Home market celebrates spring with Parade


The living room and kitchen area of a Portofino subdivision house at 1652 SW 66th Dr.

Doug Finger/Staff Photographer
Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 5:01 p.m.

Confidence in the Gainesville housing market is up, and this year's Parade of Homes will cater to the increasingly diverse population of homebuyers.

Facts

If you go

What: 2013 Spring Parade of Homes
When: From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and April 20-21
Where: Thirty-three homes in 20 Alachua County neighborhoods
Admission: Free
More: For more information, call the Builders Association at 372-5649 or visit www.bancf.com

The beauty of this year's event is variety, from the home's size, price and style to its ideal residents, said Margie Krpan, deputy executive vice president of the Builders Association of North Central Florida, which hosts the event.

Attendees will be presented with 33 homes from 20 neighborhoods, including the cities of Newberry, Alachua and High Springs.

The parade is open two consecutive weekends beginning this Saturday and Sunday and continuing April 20-21. Krpan said a notable difference from past years is that builders decided to change the times to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Builders hope the change will increase traffic.

Krpan said the Builders Association doesn't refer to the homes as models because they were specifically built for the parade. Members apply to take part in the parade six to eight months in advance, and then the building process becomes a chore at their own pace. Though not all houses are fully

furnished, they serve as examples of what the builder can do in the future. Each home will be staffed for questions.

Lori McGriff, president of Emmer Development Corp., will showcase homes in the Portofino neighborhood, a subdivision in northwest Gainesville.

McGriff said the market is coming back as people start purchasing homes again. It's a good time to buy a house because interest rates remain low, she said.

In the past few years, McGriff said she had put building on hold to avoid competition with the short sales and foreclosures in the market.

Purchasing power in the housing industry, she said, affects many different people and businesses. From buying supplies to paying for lawn care services, the sale of just one house can affect the economy, McGriff said.

Dale Kinsell, the main builder for Arthur Rutenberg Homes in North Central Florida, said the company began rebounding in 2010. Company sales have increased every year since then and are projected to increase 25 percent from 2012 to '13, he said.

Rutenberg Homes has a $1.2 million Tuscan-style, five-bedroom home in the parade this year that is in response to potential homebuyers asking for larger homes.

A new trend for builders, Kinsell said, is to condense largely unused space, such as a formal dining room, into one "great room." The plan has been used for homes smaller than 4,000 square feet because it provides a more functional space that can still be used for entertainment purposes.

Cutting down on unnecessary space also makes the house smaller, which can be ideal for buyers on a budget.

Though great rooms can save money, Kinsell said being energy-efficient and finding ways to reduce a buyer's utility bill are always goals of a responsible builder.

The Parade of Homes is one of the company's major marketing tools, Kinsell said.

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