Passionate about the Parade
Builders take extreme pride in presenting houses in annual Parade of Homes
Builders are passionate about the Parade of Homes, usually working long hours and losing more than a little sleep in an effort to make sure their parade homes are finished and ready to shine. With good reason, too, since a good showing in the parade can mean increased business.
“It’s the best marketing you can do,” said Nate Porter with Porter Homes, who is also serving as the president of the HBA through the end of 2012. Porter estimates that 50 percent of his business in the last year came from his participation in previous years’ parades.
Most of the other builders agree that being in the Parade of Homes can lead to an increase in business, which makes it a no-brainer on their part to enter the parade.
Although this is the first year that Garrett Blecha with On Track Builders has entered a home in the Parade of Homes, he had a home in the HBA’s spring home tour, which was held in conjunction with the Home Improvement and Remodeling Tour.
“I got a lot of business off the tour,” said Blecha, who estimated that five of the 15 homes he built in White Willows were due to the great response he had from the home tour. His Parade home was available for sale, but it sold within four days of its listing on the MLS, so buyers will have to talk to him about pre-solds during their tour of the Parade of Homes.
The homes that are in the parade tend to stick in consumers’ heads, which is usually a good thing. Griffin Concepts is already working on a custom home for the 2013 Parade of Homes with an owner who met the builder at a parade five years ago.
Participation can also have some unintended consequences, however, as Chuck Lopez witnessed firsthand. Lopez, the builder of the home at 2105 Desert Hills Road, built several parade homes in Redlands Mesa Golf Course in the boom years, which generated other homes in Redlands Mesa Golf Course.
“In the good years, it benefitted me,” Lopez said, “but it also put me in a category where buyers made assumptions about the types of houses I would build.”
For the record, Lopez will build whatever size home a customer wants. He is an Energy Star builder, but he doesn’t insist on upgraded amenities or specific locations.
“We build in the $95 a square foot and we build in the $300 per square foot range,” said Lopez. The difference between the two isn’t the quality of construction from Lopez, but the cost of the amenities chosen by the buyer.
Subcontractors also benefit from participation in the Parade of Homes. Aaron Varbel with Varbel Plumbing has worked on parade homes for more than five years.
“They are more stressful,” Varbel said. “But it gives a great platform to introduce yourself as a professional and as a business.”
Varbel worked on the two Porter Homes entries in this year’s parade, and he may spend part of the Parade in the two homes built by Porter Homes. He also hopes for an opportunity to visit other parade homes. He goes for the same reasons consumers visit the parade; he wants to see the new products and he wants to make sure he’s on top of the latest trends.
If builders can find the time, most of them like to go to other parade homes, too. Some do it as a way of showing support to fellow builders and some are simply curious to see what other builders are doing. Some are too busy to leave their own homes, but try to visit parades in other towns.
“I’m really after knowledge of what other people are doing across the country,” said Mike Zagrzbeski with Zag Built, who tries to visit at least one parade of homes on the Front Range and in Utah. This year, he also hopes to visit home tours in Scottsdale, Ariz. and in Texas.
Most builders see the parade as an educational opportunity, both for themselves and for the people who tour their homes.
“There’s a value that Energy Star brings,” said Darin Carei with Senergy Builders, who is one of several builders in the parade who builds to Energy Star standards. “It’s more than a simple blue stamp. You have to go in and explain to potential buyers what’s behind the walls.”
For consumers, the Parade of Homes offers a no-pressure opportunity to tour homes without a real estate agent in tow. If you have questions for the builders, they’re usually more than happy to take the time to answer them. And if you just want to see the cool houses, with pretty furniture and professional interior design, that’s fine, too.