Once again the Blue Ridge Home Builders Association (BRHBA) is excited to offer this year’s much anticipated Parade of Homes where local builders put their very best product on display. As always Parade goers will enjoy a close-up look at a variety of home styles, prices and locations and learn about cutting-edge technologies like the latest and best energy saving ideas, the newest floor plans, and the most current color schemes and amenities.
This year’s parade features 38 homes from 18 different builders a nice increase from last year reflecting today’s active new construction market. In addition, Parade goers can check out three neighborhoods on display and visit Southern Development Homes Design Center to see what is new in the way of counter tops, cabinets, floors, fixtures and carpet and get advice from professional designers onsite during the event.
The Parade is free, open to the public and everyone is invited to join in the fun. Even if you are not planning to buy or build anytime soon, come and enjoy the best of the best local craftsmanship and learn what is new. Planning to renovate your current home? The Parade is also a great way to get ideas about creative ways to upgrade your insulation, replace your kitchen cabinets, build an addition, upgrade old inefficient appliances, and much more.
Bring your questions and don’t be shy about engaging both site agents and builders who will be on hand with answers and great advice about what is new and what might work best in your house. If you are ready to build, they can also advise as to which of their homes and communities would be a good fit. Look forward to spending a relaxed couple of weekends visiting homes and neighborhoods with family and friends all at the 53rd Annual Parade of Homes.
The Parade runs from noon to 5 p.m. on two consecutive weekends, Saturday and Sunday, October 1 & 2, 8 & 9. Look for information in the Parade of Homes Magazine in the CAAR Real Estate Weekly prior to the Parade weekends, or online at the BRHBA website and Parade of Homes Facebook page, or find it at C-VILLE Weekly and the Daily Progress.
Make the Most of Your Parade Experience
Plan your Parade experience online with a visit to the map located in the centerfold of the Parade of Homes Magazine. The map is divided into four areas with homes identified by number, address and the builder’s name. Each home also has its own page with the name of the builder, the site agent and more information including floor plans. Then enjoy visiting a variety of homes in a range of price points and styles so that you can get an idea of what is available and have the opportunity to talk to different builders and their site agents all in an afternoon or two.
There is a real mixture of people who attend the Parade, and all are welcome. Some, explained Kristin Sorokti, BRHBA’s Executive Director, are people moving to Charlottesville who need a home they can move into right away. Others have plans to renovate their existing home and want ideas to make the most of what they have. Still others have plans to build a custom home and are looking at what different builders have to offer in the way of unique styles and floor plans.
Parade visitors looking for ideas should plan to visit as many homes as possible, and be sure not to miss the highest priced homes. Even if you can’t afford them, they will have the most and best of desirable features all in one place along with knowledgeable agents and builders to answer your questions.
Parade visitors who want help with design ideas can stop at the Southern Development Homes Design Center, a separate Parade entrant noted on the map. “We are exceptionally proud of our 3,000 square foot Sales and Marketing Center,” said Kendra Dunn, Sales and Marketing Administrator. She explained that the Center is unique in having everything you need for a new home all in one location.
“It’s a place where visitors can really see their home come together,” she said adding that visitors can see, touch and compare design features such as cabinets, counter tops and hardware in all their different colors and styles and receive input and suggestions from the on-site designers. She encourages Parade visitors to bring their ideas and their questions.
The Parade also attracts visitors who are shopping for a builder. This group may have questions such as how many years a company has been in the business, what types of homes they build, and their overall approach to the building process.
The Parade offers serious buyers a unique opportunity to talk to several builders all in one afternoon to find one they want to work with. “The Parade of Homes is the best way for purchasers to get out and see many local builders and their quality of work,” advises Susan Stewart with Roy Wheeler Realty Co who represents Dobson Homes’ Parade entry. “I suggest taking notes and pictures,” she continued and “…learn as much as possible about each subdivision and what is going on within the communities, what the standard options are each builder offers,” she said.
Of course building a home is a process that can take four to six months or longer and the complexity almost guarantees some challenges along the way, which is all the more reason to find a builder you can work well with explained Charif Soubra with Southern Development Homes.
Another benefit of visiting the Parade is learning about what is coming on the market in different subdivisions. Three of these communities are being featured as separate entries into the Parade including Bundoran Farms by Natural Retreats south of Charlottesville in North Garden, and Stanley Martin Homes’ Chesterfield Landing in Crozet, and Hollymead Walk on 29 North.
Finally, to make the most of the Parade, have fun. Jodi Mills, Director of Sales and Marketing for Stony Point Design/Build has participated in Parades since 2010. She says a lot of people make a day of it, going first to a wine tasting or some other event and then on to the Parade. It’s kind of like “old home week,” she said where you see a lot of familiar faces.
New Homes Market Going Strong
Builders and agents describe a strong new construction market and expect it is just getting started. All the more reason for new home buyers to jump in now before prices go higher.
“The new homes market has picked up significantly,” said Michael Guthrie, CEO and Managing Broker for Roy Wheeler Realty Co. He added that he expects 2016 and 2017 to be “the years of new construction,” thanks in part to all the new communities that have been approved recently and where the ground is cleared and new homes are going up.
“The new construction market is still excelling,” Stewart said. “I think one of the reasons for that is the resale market inventory is low right now.” She added that people often choose new construction over resale because they want to avoid the work that comes with renovating and updating an existing home to suit their needs.
This belief was confirmed recently when eight different couples walked into a model where she is the site agent, each of them telling the same story. In every case they had been looking at resales for some time, and not having found one they liked, were now considering new construction. She added that two extra incentives for these buyers is that new construction prices are often “about in-line with resales” and new homes come with warranties on many items. Of course new construction buyers can also customize their homes, choosing colors, floor plans and fixtures to suit their personal tastes.
Greg Slater with Nest Realty, representing Bramante Homes’ Parade entry, described the new construction market as “strong,” although the number of new home sales as a percentage of the total market has declined some in recent years. He believes this is due in part to increased numbers of sales in the under $400,000 range which, given the cost of new construction, is primarily resales. Also builders are so busy right now it takes longer for new homes to be built reducing the total number of contracts. However, at the same time, the total value of new home sales contracts has grown substantially since 2014.
“The new construction market is slowly returning to what many would call a ‘healthy’ level,” said Ben Davis, Vice President of Sales for Craig Builders. “We’ve seen gradual improvements in the number of homes sold and closed over the past forty-eight months,” he continued. He believes the new construction market would be even stronger were it not for a both a “shortage of land in the most desirable locations” and an inadequate supply of labor.
Builders and Associates Partner to Sponsor the Parade
The Parade is an annual cooperative effort between builders and associates active in new construction and the BRHBA. This year’s main or Presenting Sponsor is once again Roy Wheeler Realty Co. However there are many other sponsors including Specialized Insurance Services, the Gala Presenting Sponsor for the kickoff event at King Family Vineyards, and First Heritage Mortgage, which is the Wine Sponsor for the Gala. “We couldn’t do this without our sponsors,” Sorokti said.
Guthrie is proud that his company has chosen to be Presenting Sponsor of the Parade for the fifth year in a row. He emphasized the importance of the partnership between the builders and the local real estate community stating that over the last several years this partnership has become stronger. He described the Parade as “lots of builders putting their best foot forward, and when you only give one party a year, you want everything to be in the best possible shape. We like having our name associated with a first class event like this.”
He is particularly happy to see the increased number of homes in this year’s Parade, compared to a few years ago when the inventory was small. Given the option he believes most buyers prefer a new home over resale because they can customize it to meet their needs.
Guthrie is also appreciative of the cooperation that goes into making for a successful Parade. One tradition from years past was to judge Parade entries and award prizes at the Gala. When the Parade committee decided to eliminate the contest the result was what Guthrie called a much more cooperative effort. “As we market together, the activity increases and there is a ripple effect that benefits everyone,” he said. And that kind of camaraderie and cooperation extends beyond the Parade. He was at a tailgating party prior to a UVA football game recently and was happy to see a group of REALTOR® friends from competing companies enjoying a similar gathering nearby.
The Parade, is a once a year chance to ask questions and enjoy the best new construction our area has to offer. Don’t miss it!
Celeste Smucker is a writer, blogger and author who lives near Charlottesville.