See The Best Of The Best New Homes at BRHBA’s 54th Annual Parade of Homes

House mock-up on top of blueprints with pen notes and corrections House mock-up on top of blueprints with pen notes and corrections

By Celeste M. Smucker –

The Blue Ridge Home Builders Association (BRHBA) is proud to feature the very best in new construction at the 54th Annual Parade of Homes on two consecutive weekends—September 30 and October 1, and October 7 and 8—from noon to 5 p.m.

Parade attendees can marvel at 41 homes from 17 different builders and experience a wide variety of neighborhoods, housing styles and price points including (for the first time ever) Spear Builders’ Vintage Log Cabin. The amenities offered by different communities are also on display as are all the latest in cutting-edge technologies, energy saving ideas, floor plans, and color schemes plus all that’s new in kitchens and baths.

If you love your home and don’t plan to move soon, you are still invited to attend. Bring any and all questions for onsite builders and agents about creative ways to reduce energy costs, replace kitchen cabinets, build an addition, upgrade old inefficient appliances, and much more, especially—but not exclusively—if you are a home owner with plans to renovate and update your home to suit your current lifestyle or make it more livable long term.

For more information see this year’s 80 page Parade of Homes Magazine with a map in the centerfold so visitors can easily locate participating homes. The Magazine is available prior to the first Parade weekend in this issue of the CAAR Real Estate Weekly and racked in the Weekly’s blue boxes next week. Or find it in C-Ville Weekly prior to the first Parade weekend and in the Daily Progress on Sunday October 1. You can also access the Magazine online at the BRHBA website on the Parade page.

To make the most of the Parade, plot your tour using the map in the Parade of Homes Magazine.. The map is divided into three geographic areas—East, Central and West—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, including floor plans. For best results, plan to visit as many homes and neighborhoods as you can.

The Parade is free and open to the public. 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,

Make The Most Of The Parade

There is a real mixture of people who attend the Parade, and all are welcome, explained Kristin Sorokti, BRHBA’s Executive Director. Some are moving to Charlottesville and need a home they can move into right away. Others want to renovate an existing house and are looking for ways to save energy and make the most of their home’s best features. Still others have plans to build a custom home and are curious about what different builders are offering in the way of styles and floor plans.

The Parade can also help visitors get familiar with the products offered by BRHBA Associate Members such as lighting, HVAC systems, color schemes, countertops and other home components, Sorokti said.

These products can be viewed in each Parade home, or, for more help with design ideas, you are also invited to have a more hands-on experience at The Southern Development Homes Design Center on Cherry Avenue—Parade entrant # 17—Sorokti added. A visit to the Design Center is a unique chance to observe everything you need for a new home all in one location and a place where you can see and touch design features in different colors and styles. Professional designers will be available and ready to answer any questions during the Parade.

Plan to visit as many homes as possible and don’t be deterred by the price. Even if the higher priced homes don’t fit your budget, they offer a great opportunity to see the most and the best of desirable features all in one place along with knowledgeable agents and builders to answer your questions.

Finally, to make the most of the Parade, have fun. Jodi Mills, with Nest Realty Group and Director of Sales and Marketing for Stony Point Design/Build, has participated in Parades since 2010 and describes a trend of people going first to a wine tasting or some other event and then on to the Parade, making a day of it.

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 some of her regulars to stop and shop there first before visiting the best of the best new homes.

Shop For A Builder

If a brand new house is in your future, the Parade is a good place to find the best builder for your family’s needs. 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 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 builder Rich Carter of Southland Homes, Inc. whose Parade entry is in Troy east of Charlottesville.

“I suggest taking notes and pictures,” Stewart added 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.

New home buyers also benefit from the advice of experienced REALTORS® familiar with the construction process. Greg Slater with Nest Realty Group, explained that many buyers are not intending to build when they first start planning for their next home, but eventually may realize that is their best option. Buyers new to building “have to be educated to the process and the differences between buying new vs. resale, and having a REALTOR® offer advice in this regard can be very helpful,” he said.

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 these buyers to find a builder they can work well with, and an agent to help walk them through the process.

Impressive New Homes Market

Impressive growth in the new homes market means more builders and more subdivisions coming online giving buyers a lot of options to choose from.

New construction sales have been an increasing percentage of total sales for the last two years, explained Michael Guthrie, CEO and Managing Broker of Roy Wheeler Realty Co., the Parade’s main sponsor. He expects this trend to continue stating that all of this activity is “great for builders” who “are building as fast as they can.” Some are booked well into 2018.

“Market conditions are helping new homes sales,” Slater said, adding that “according to the Nest Midyear Market Report, inventory levels are down eight percent year over year.” At the same time, “resale contracts are up just one percent year over year.” In contrast, he continued, “new homes sales are up 23 percent. When existing homes aren’t available, buyers have to consider their new construction options,” he concluded.

Kate Colvin, Craig Builders Customer Representative and REALTOR® at Roy Wheeler Realty Co. agrees saying “with inventories of existing homes in the area remaining at low levels in key market segments, 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.”

Sasha Farmer, REALTOR® and Vice President of Montague Miller and Co. Realtors, Inc. represents Dobson Homes, Inc.’s Parade home. She believes that “the new construction market is offering a lot of great opportunities,” adding that many buyers appreciate having a brand new home that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. She explained that for many people having the biggest house is not as important as having one that reflects their personal lifestyle, one that allows them “to live the way they do.”

Central Virginia—and especially Albemarle County—is enjoying “a robust year for new homes,” said Jim Faulconer, Broker with McLean Faulconer, Inc. who represents Renaissance Builders in the Parade. He added that while much of the action is in the close-in areas, he is starting to see more activity in locations beyond Albemarle, and expects to see this growth continue, citing the importance of the University, the strong community and our area’s natural beauty.

Another factor impacting the market is that families now find it easier to sell existing homes, explained TJ Southmayd, Craig Builders Customer Representative and REALTOR® at Nest Realty Group. “This peace of mind allows them to move into a home and/or location that better suits their needs— whether that’s a little bit larger, or smaller—depending on the buyer.”

Builders and Associates Collaborate For Success

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.

The main or Presenting Sponsor for the 54th Parade is Roy Wheeler Realty Co., helped along by many others including Specialized Insurance Services, the Gala Presenting Sponsor for the kickoff celebration at King Family Vineyards.

Associate members also contribute to the Parade through their participation on the Parade of Homes Committee. This collaborative approach to creating this big event starts three to four months prior to opening day and is a great way for associates to give back to the building community and also to network with builder members serving on the committee. “We couldn’t do this event without our sponsors and the Parade committee,” Sorokti explained.

Guthrie is proud of his company’s prominent role as Parade sponsor (a role it has had for several years running) stating that it is one of many ways they choose to give back to the community. “It’s our way of putting our money where our mouth is,” he continued, adding that the sponsorship is a good investment and a way for them to “communicate our support for the builders.”

After all their hard work, builders and associates come together at what Sorokti called “the spectacular launch party” at King Family Vineyards. This is a premier networking opportunity and another way to celebrate the builders’ hard work in completing their homes in time for the Parade. It also generates a lot of energy and excitement about the upcoming Parade weekends, Sorokti added.

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 and blogger who lives near Charlottesville.