By Celeste M. Smucker –
The exciting lineup of Charlottesville’s best new construction continues this weekend—Saturday and Sunday, October 13 and 14 from noon to 5:00 p.m.—at the Blue Ridge Homebuilders Association’s (BRHBA) 55th Annual Parade of Homes.
The event features 27 homes from 16 builders plus three design centers. Whether or not you plan to build, you are welcome to visit and be amazed by the latest in energy saving technologies and design features.
The Parade “puts a spotlight on the new home offerings around town. It gets everyone thinking about whether it’s time for a new home or whether it’s time to do that renovation project they’ve been thinking about,” says Ben Davis, Vice President of Sales for Craig Builders.
Attendees can also take advantage of this once-a-year opportunity to pick the brains of builders, REALTORS® and other new construction experts like Sigora Solar and learn about the best ways to make their current house more livable and energy efficient now and in the future.
As always, the Parade is free and all visitors are welcome. Come and enjoy an easy, no-pressure time learning about the latest in new homes from professionals eager to be of service.
Parade of Homes Magazine
Be sure to get your copy of the Parade of Homes Magazine with a map in the centerfold and details about each Parade entry, suggests Jenny Tapscott, BRHBA Executive Director.
Look for it in the distribution boxes for both C-VILLE Weekly and the Real Estate Weekly, and in each Parade home. The Daily Progress will carry the map on Sunday October 14th.
You can also 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.
Outdoor Living Popular
There is much to intrigue you at the Parade, starting with stress-free ways to enjoy the outdoors.
“Outdoor space is still important to most every buyer I’m seeing,” says Kate Colvin with Roy Wheeler Realty Co. and Customer Representative for Craig Builders. “We’re getting ready to break ground on a house to be featured in the 2019 Parade of Homes (yes, we have to start planning a year ahead) that features a one level design and a private courtyard in the middle. The idea is that the customer can downsize without sacrificing outdoor space for their dog or their gardening hobby.”
Many buyers also ask for yards that require minimal upkeep allowing them to spend their time hiking, traveling or just relaxing rather than doing landscaping chores, says Michael Guthrie, CEO of Roy Wheeler Realty Co.
He adds that, in addition, when given the choice of more yard or a larger house, buyers often choose the latter, especially if their family is growing or they need extra space for an office or a hobby.
Another way to enjoy the outdoors is from a rooftop terrace, says Jodi Mills with Nest Realty and Director of Sales and Marketing for Stony Point Design/Build. This feature is especially popular when it comes with a great view such as from her builder’s model at Lochlyn Hill that features a terrace complete with a cedar pergola.
A rooftop terrace is also an option at The Towns at Stonefield, says Sales Manager, Kris King. Available attic space can be converted to a terrace to let you enjoy the outdoors, or, if you prefer, made into an additional bedroom or hobby room instead.
Other popular outdoor features include hardscape items like patios and fire pits explains Chris Sylves with Nest Realty who represents Stanley Martin Homes.
For even more ways to enjoy the outdoors, see the Parade homes that are on large lots. Melanie Lambert with Core Real Estate, who represents Lambert & Lane’s entry, describes one of the home’s many appealing features, its four-acre wooded lot.
The home also showcases other noteworthy outdoor living options: double porches in front and a sunroom with a two-sided fireplace.
In an interesting shift in homebuyer preferences, REALTORS® report that Millennials and Boomers, often want homes with similar features. Though years apart in age, many in both groups prefer one-level living with open floor plans and less square footage on smaller lots, Guthrie says.
Buyers are “not wanting more space than they will use,” agrees Suzie Pace with Pace Real Estate Associates, representing R.L. Beyer Custom Homes. Formal rooms are also no longer in high demand as buyers prefer what she calls “flexibility in design,” so they can use their space to accommodate changing needs.
“We continue to see a desire for main level living with a focus on an Easy Living design that features larger doorways, stepless entry from the front and/or garage, and open and functional plans that are designed for every season of life,” explains Andrea Akers, Sales Manager for Southern Development Homes.
“We’re seeing some parts of the market shift away from ‘Formal Dining’ that may be tucked away from the kitchen to a ‘Casual Dining’ or ‘All Day Dining’ concept, which offers a large dining room space right off of the kitchen,” says TJ Southmayd, with Nest Realty and Customer Representative for Craig Builders.
Another room that may be disappearing is the breakfast room. Lambert says that many families are opting for an extended kitchen island with a seating area instead.
While first floor master suites are popular, so are townhomes, Mills reports. “This comes in ebbs and flows, but I feel this wave moving faster than we’ve seen in the past few years.”
While one level living is not usually part of a townhouse lifestyle, builders now offer elevators for those who prefer not to climb stairs. Visitors to Mills’ Lochlyn Hill model can admire both the elevator and black iron railings on the stairs that she says are “wowing buyers.”
“Elevators are becoming more and more popular as customers look to age in place,” agrees Marc Ammons with Nest Realty, a Craig Builders Customer Representative.
Low Maintenance Favored
More time for hobbies and other pursuits is a big reason low maintenance home features are popular.
“Low maintenance exteriors give our home owners more time to enjoy life versus constant upkeep,” says David Boisvert, Sales Manager for Atlantic Builders in Spring Creek. He adds that, inside the home, “solid wood is being replaced with laminate and luxury vinyl planks that both look like hard wood but hold up much better to scratches and wear.”
“Laminate and vinyl flooring are leading the way in popularity for their low maintenance qualities,” agrees Anna Posner, Design Consultant at Southern Development Homes.
She invites Parade visitors to stop by the Cherry Avenue Design Center to “browse the latest trends and seek advice on quality products” they may be considering for a renovation or just to gain a better understanding of an idea they may have seen in a magazine.
Another way to enhance your home and keep it low maintenance is to install porcelain tile. Wayne Craft, long-time Associate at SariSand Tile, a design center Parade entrant, calls it “extremely durable, like granite. Properly installed it will last forever,” he says.
Craft invites Parade visitors to bring questions plus swatches, pictures, or floor plans if they are considering a home renovation. One of many popular ways to enhance your home with tile is to install it as an accent wall in your entry, kitchen or walk-in shower, Craft advises.
Tile is also a good choice if you are allergy-prone, he continues, and can be used throughout your home. Parade visitors can look forward to seeing a myriad of beautiful and popular tile designs from alligator skin and leather to wood planks and marbleized varieties in the light colors that are much in demand today.
Other Design Features
If you are curious about what’s new in home design, the Parade is the place to be.
“Modern and modern farmhouse are making their way into the marketplace, a tad more than we’ve seen in the past few years,” Mills says, adding that “builders are taking notice.”
Pace agrees stating that rustic accents such as old barn wood, hard wood floors and barn doors are trending. Also popular are larger laundry or mud rooms to accommodate hobbies. Some also feature dog showers to facilitate cleaning up your pet before she joins you in the house, she adds.
When it comes to color, classic grays and whites are popular as are clean (less ornamental) lines as finishes, says Lindsay Milby with Loring Woodriff Real Estate Associates. Basements with their extra storage space are popular with families, she continues.
In addition to whites and grays for cabinet colors, Posner sees growing “interest in painted colors like black, navy or even green as a departure from the timeless maple or cherry stains. Brushed brass light fixtures are back, believe it or not,” she exclaims and “black fixtures are also popular for a timeless update to the modern farmhouse style.”
Expect to save on energy costs when you move into a new home.
“The overwhelming majority of builders in our marketplace now feature energy efficient construction methods as a core part of their offering,” says Greg Slater, with Nest Realty representing Bramante Homes in the Parade.
Now the value of these features—the home’s high performing assets that contribute to its comfort, energy performance, and indoor air quality—can be incorporated into its price at resale, especially if they are certified by a company that provides third party verification such as Pearl Home Certification.
Pearl “makes the home a part of a permanent registry so the buyer can rely on Pearl in the future as a resource when it comes to future maintenance or sale of the home,” Slater says. Without this certification, the seller loses out on what differentiates it in the market, explains Cynthia Adams, Pearl’s CEO.
Pearl will have a representative at Bramante’s Parade Home (which comes with a Platinum rating, the highest available) to answer questions about their process and its benefits for buyers, sellers, appraisers and REALTORS®.
For Parade visitors with questions about going solar, representatives from Sigora Solar will be available at all of the Stanley Martin models, Sylves says, and at some of the other Parade homes as well. Sigora works closely with Pearl as one of their certified contractors and many new homes and all resale homes that have Sigora installed systems come with Pearl certification.
Bring a friend, a list of questions, and take advantage of this weekend’s final opportunity to talk to REALTORS®, builders and other new home professionals at the Parade.
Celeste Smucker is a writer and blogger who lives near Charlottesville.