By Celeste M. Smucker –
The Blue Ridge Home Builders Association (BRHBA) announces its 55th Annual Parade of Homes featuring the best of the best in new construction. Visitors are invited to attend the Parade the first two weekends in October—October 6 and 7 and October 13 and 14—from noon to 5 p.m.
The 2018 event features 27 homes from 16 different builders as well as three design centers. Homes come in a wide variety of housing styles, price points and geographic locations and visitors can view the latest in energy saving ideas, floor plans, and color schemes.
Planning to renovate your home? The Parade is also for you and for those curious about the latest in interior design trends or who want to explore what’s new in home technologies while spending two fun weekends with family and friends.
Come prepared with all of your questions about energy saving ideas—including solar panels—for onsite builders, agents and green technology specialists such as Sigora Solar. Plus, view the latest in kitchen cabinets, countertops, appliance colors, bath fixtures and much more.
The Parade is an opportunity for builders to showcase their homes and for visitors “to see all of the exciting innovations in new home construction,” explains David Boisvert, Sales Manager for Atlantic Builders.
The event is free and open to the public, and there is lots to be excited about so bring family and friends and come on down to meet the builders and their agents at BRHBA’s biggest event of the year.
Parade of Homes Magazine Now Available
Be sure to get your copy of this year’s Parade of Homes Magazine. It has a map in the centerfold and details about each Parade entry explains Jenny Tapscott, BRHBA Executive Director.
Parade magazines are available in the distribution boxes for both C-VILLE Weekly and the Real Estate Weekly. There will also be copies in each Parade home. The Daily Progress will carry the map only on both Parade Sundays, October 7 and 14.
Alternatively, access the Magazine online at the BRHBA website or download the app (available at the Apple and Google App Stores).
The color-coded map is divided into three areas—East, Central and West—with each entry identified by a number, address and builder or design center name. Each entry also has its own page with detailed information, so visitors can plan a trip that includes all of the homes, neighborhoods, design centers and builders of greatest interest.
Best Possible Parade Experience
There is a real mixture of people who attend the Parade, and all are welcome.
To get the most out of your time, plan to walk through as many homes as possible says Chris Sylves with Nest Realty who represents Stanley Martin Homes in the Parade. He suggests starting in Louisa, and heading west through Charlottesville and on to Crozet.
Melanie Lambert with Core Real Estate, who represents Lambert & Lane’s Parade entry in Glenmore, looks forward to seeing two kinds of visitors attending the Parade: those who come to have fun and learn about design trends, and those who plan to build. Either way she suggests you review the entries and plot a Parade course that lets you see the homes that appeal to your interests the most.
“Bring a bag or a backpack for all the handouts and goodies you will collect on the Parade route,” advises Kris King, Sales Manager at The Towns at Stonefield. “And don’t forget to check out the neighborhoods as well as the homes,” he adds.
If you have questions about home products such as lighting, HVAC systems, color schemes, countertops and other home components, the Parade is the place to be.
View these features in each Parade home and, for even more insight, plan to visit the three design centers that are Parade entries this year: Better Living, Inc. on Berkmar Drive, Sarisand Tile Resource and Design Showroom on Harris Street, and Southern Development Homes Design Center on Cherry Avenue.
Agents also advise that when you plan your route, take time to walk through homes that may be out of your price range. The high end homes are some of the best places to see the most in demand features all in one location.
Finally, “have fun,” advises Jodi Mills, with Nest Realty and Director of Sales and Marketing for Stony Point Design/Build. Her Parade participation dates back to 2010 and she looks forward to greeting visitors, some of whom enjoy attending another event such as a wine tasting before moving on to view the Parade homes.
It’s kind of like “old home week,” Mills said “where you see a lot of familiar faces.” This year Martha’s Market coincides with the Parade’s first weekend and she expects “the ladies will be out together and include the Parade in their day. It’s always nice when they’re the same weekend.”
Shop For A Builder
If a brand new house is in your future, the Parade is a good resource to learn about different builders and what they have to offer. Feel free to ask questions about how many years a company has been in the business, what type of homes they build, and their overall approach to the building process.
“[The] Parade of Homes is a wonderful opportunity for the community to explore our homes and engage with our knowledgeable team on new and exciting projects,” says Anna Posner, Design Consultant at Southern Development’s Design Center.
One of the strong points of the Parade is that attendees can acquaint themselves with the surprising variety of options available in new construction, says Suzie Pace with Pace Real Estate Associates, LLC who represents R.L. Beyer Custom Homes in the Parade. “I am a big believer in the Parade,” she continues, adding that our community is fortunate to have so many quality builders to choose from.
Not only can Parade visitors explore existing homes, they can also learn about upcoming projects. For example, Lindsay Milby with Loring Woodriff Real Estate Associates, representing Evergreen Home Builders, explains that not only will they be showcasing her builder’s quality construction but can also “provide information about all of their developments including those existing and others that will soon be on the market.”
Advice from REALTORS® familiar with the construction process is also available at the Parade. Greg Slater with Nest Realty, who represents Bramante Homes’ entry explains that “often buyers are not intending to build when they first start looking for their next home, but eventually may realize that is their best option.”
Kate Colvin, Craig Builders Customer Representative and REALTOR® at Roy Wheeler Realty Co. agrees saying “new construction has provided a great alternative for customers who may not otherwise be able to find exactly what they’re looking for. These customers typically have to wait a little longer for their new home than they would have with an existing home, but many say having a brand new home is worth the wait.”
Attending the Parade can also help buyers understand that building is a multi-step journey that can take four to six months or longer to complete. The complexity involved almost guarantees there will be some challenges, so it is critical for new home buyers to work with a builder they respect and use a knowledgeable agent to help walk them through the process.
Buyers new to building “have to be educated to the process and the differences between buying new versus resale, and having a REALTOR® offer advice in this regard can be very helpful,” Slater said.
While shopping for a builder, Parade attendees can also give feedback to assist builders planning for next year’s Parade. “I’ll be working in a Village Home in Old Trail Village that was built just for this year’s Parade,” said Blissie Du Bose, with Sally Du Bose Real Estate Partners and a Customer Service Representative for Craig Builders. “I’m excited to collect feedback from visitors that we can use to continue to improve our designs for future customers,” she said.
New Homes Market Sizzles
Impressive growth in the new homes market means more builders and more subdivisions coming online giving buyers much to choose from.
Sylves described new homes sales as “robust,” adding that his company was “busy through the summer.” He is especially pleased that as of mid-September they had already racked up five sales.
“We’ve had great success the past two years in Spring Creek” Boisvert says. “We experienced the typical summer slowdown but I’m already seeing business pick up this month.”
“The overall number of new construction contracts is up year over year by around 9 percent based on CAAR [Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS®] data that we follow monthly,” said Ben Davis, VP of Sales for Craig Builders.
Jim Dickerson with Charlottesville Solutions represents Bethel Builders in the Parade, a company that is new to BRHBA and looking forward to the exposure the Parade brings. He is excited about the Parade as a great way to “get people out looking” and thinking about new homes now that their kids are back in school.
He believes Parade activity also impacts the sale of existing homes as well as inspiring renovations, which is good for remodelers. “It’s a shot in the arm” for everyone in our industry, he said.
Dickerson described the new homes market as “steady,” with “lots of sales.” He is not seeing as many spec homes as was once the case, which he believes is due in part to the fact that “they get grabbed up as soon as they get on the market.”
A Collaboration of Builders and Associates
A successful Parade reflects a huge cooperative effort between BRHBA builders and their associates from related industries such as REALTORS®, lenders, insurance agents and vendors.
Sponsorship is one way companies can participate. This year the main or Presenting Sponsor for the Parade is Roy Wheeler Realty Co. Michael Guthrie, Roy Wheeler’s CEO, is proud of his company’s prominent role as Parade sponsor (a role it has had for several years running) stating “it’s our way of putting our money where our mouth is.” He adds that the sponsorship is a good investment and a way for his company to “communicate our support for the builders.”
There are many other sponsors including Dominion Energy, sponsor for the Parade kickoff celebration at King Family Vineyards. Dominion is assisted by First Heritage Mortgage, the event’s wine sponsor.
The kickoff party and gala is a premier networking opportunity and, explained Mike Bitrick, VP and Branch Manager for First Heritage Mortgage, another way to celebrate the builders’ hard work in completing their homes in time for the Parade.
Builders get tickets for the gala with their Parade entries and always invite associates such as REALTORS® to be their guests at this premier networking event, Tapscott said.
BRHBA members, both builders and associates, also collaborate by participating on the Parade of Homes Committee. This activity starts three to four months prior to the Parade’s opening day and is a powerful way for associates to give back to the building community while they network with builder members.
The Parade, is a once a year chance to ask questions and learn about the best in new construction in our area. Don’t miss it!
Celeste Smucker is a writer and blogger who lives near Charlottesville.