Parade of Homes participants believe return worth the effort

Central Texas builders show back on track after year off

Harry Savio, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin said this year’s Parade of Homes reflects strength in the local market.

Jan Buchholz

Staff Writer- Austin Business Journal

This year’s 58th Parade of Homes by the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin — one of the oldest events of its kind in the country — may be more anticipated than in most years, considering that the Parade did not march last year.

“We had to cancel it last year. Constructionfinancing was too hard to come by,” saidHarry Savio, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin, who oversees the event.

This year six custom homebuilders were able to finance and complete a range ofluxury homes, which will be on tour Oct. 27 through Nov. 11 at The Overlook Estates in Southwest Austin.

The Parade is not only a huge event with 10,000 to 15,000 visitors expected; it’s also a significant investment — and hopefully a moneymaker — for the association. Savio has a $250,000 budget for it.

“Parades aren’t cheap,” Savio said. “They cost a lot to put on when you consider the costs of transportation, parking attendants, printing a magazine, having 24-hour security and trash pick up.”

Some of the costs will be covered by selling tickets, which average about $15 per person. Other expenses are covered by sponsors and the developer, who donates to the cause for the privilege of hosting the event. Specifics were not disclosed.

This year’s location was chosen through a vetting process that involved the Home Builders Association’s board of directors and the overall membership, he said.

“We solicit a development based on the feedback from our members. We want a premium location. It can get very competitive,” Savio said.

The Overlook Estates was selected partly because of its stunning views of the Hill Country, which appeals to builders and homebuyers alike, as well as other reasons.

“The moderate deed restrictions allow everything from modern to traditional styles. The homeowners association dues are low. We have really good schools, including private schools, and it’s very accessible to downtown,” said Michele Turnquist, president of Turnquist Partners and a co-developer of The Overlook Estates through an entity named Overlook JV.

Located off Circle Drive west of Thomas Springs Road, the development dates back to 1986 when it was platted, Overlook JV just began selling lots, however, this past January. There are 79 lots, including 35 in phase 1 and 24 in phase 2. The Parade of Homes is in phase 1.

“We think the timing is really good for this because the economy is turning and the homes are in a more affordable price range than in years past,” Turnquist said.

Most of the homes in the 2012 Parade are under $1 million, including one designed and built by JKD Builders for $899,000.

“I’m the only one doing a single-floor house with 3,400 square feet,” said J. Keith Durio, owner of JKD Builders. “It’s a Hill Country contemporary with 20-mile views.”

This is Durio’s first Parade of Homes entry, and he said it wasn’t easy to pull off.

“Financing was a little difficult because I don’t have a large portfolio,” he said. “So I paid cash for the lot and basically went to the bank and used the lot as a down payment.”

Now that the house is almost finished — including the landscaping with a three-sided infinity edge swimming pool — Durio hopes participating in the Parade will translate into new customers.

“I’ve added a lot of nice features, and I think it’s a plus that everything is on one floor,” Durio said.

Five other builders have homes featured: Enertech Builders, Dillon Custom Homes, Pillar Custom Homes, PGM Design Build and Hennessee Group.

Michael Cohen, president of Pillar Custom Homes, said he hasn’t been featured in a Parade event previously but has participated in similar shows and believes the investment is worth it.

“It’s great exposure to the public,” he said.

His 3,150-square-foot house, which he considers ideal for a family of four, is $865,000.

Financing was not an issue for Cohen, and he’s not particularly worried about how quickly the house sells.

“If it’s two weeks before or two weeks after, it’s fine by me. Even by the end of the year, that would be great,” Cohen said.

Two homes in this year’s Parade have already been sold, and Savio wouldn’t be surprised if the rest are quickly pursued. He hopes all six are under contract within 30 days after the Parade ends.

Savio noted also that not only do the builders benefit from the exposure, but so do the many vendors whose products are showcased.

“This is an event that allows the industry to display the best products, and it gives credibility to the builders,” Savio said. “I think this all reflects on the strength of the Austin market, and we even make some money on it.”

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