Take a walk on the Street of Dreams to see the latest in home design and décor in Lake County.
Story: Leigh Neely
Browsing is often the most enjoyable part of a shopping trip. The 2017 Parade of Homes, running from Feb. 5 through March 5 at Harbor Hills in Lady Lake, gives you a chance to browse the beautiful new homes in this area. There is no entry fee.
Lisa Templin-Raybon is executive director of the Home Builders Association of Lake-Sumter (HBA-LS), and she says you’ll find a variety of ideas, styles, and builders and possibly, your dream home.
“You’ll get great ideas for decorating and discover exactly what national, regional, and custom builders do,” Lisa says. “It’s the perfect place to get ideas for updating or remodeling the home you love or finding something you want to add to your current building plans.”
Harbor Hills, the dream community, is a popular Lake County development that includes an array of amenities and the Florida favorite—great golf! Add to that the peaceful, open spaces along with the safety of a gated community.
There are 21 different builders, offering a variety of model homes as well as custom-built homes that will meet the needs of first-home buyers, families, and seniors, that built the houses featured in this year’s Parade of Homes.
“Lake and Sumter counties are great places to buy and build right now,” Lisa says. “A lot of people don’t want the hustle and bustle of Orlando but enjoy that this area is close to everything they like doing without the traffic and congestion.”
She went on to say there are many opportunities for a better quality of life along with great schools, an array of opportunities and amenities for seniors, and it’s located in the heart of the state.
“This gives our builders a chance to display their work and allows people to see what they can do to create the perfect home for the buyer’s needs and wants,” Lisa says.
For the first time this year, there will also be the option of visiting remodeled and renovated homes. These will opened on weekends only, but members of HBA-LS realize many people are opting to do renovations, addition, or remodels because they don’t want to leave a treasured neighborhood or home.
“These homes give people ideas and let them view the handiwork of those who do renovations,” Lisa says.
According to market studies, houses in the $200,000 to $250,000 range are selling quickly and the inventory is low. “The Parade of Homes gives Realtors® a good opportunity to show customers everything that’s available,” Lisa says. “We’ve seen many people move to this area because their parents moved down here to The Villages or another community, and the children find they want to live here to, so that’s a draw for us.”
Builders and Realtors® know that moves are often made when transitions occur in life—a new baby or an adult child moving back home adds the need for another bedroom, retiring may signal the need to downsize and decrease the amount of home and yard maintenance.
“Some people are empty nesters and wonder where they want to go now,” Lisa says. “A friend of mine just built a house on Lake Harris, and she built a smaller house, but it is on the lake where before she was in a subdivision. I think you’re constantly moving in your phases of life, and with Lake County, lots of people love that it’s a little bit more laid back than they find in the city.”
Lisa says they also have people call the HBA from out of state to find out when the Parade of Homes is scheduled so they can come and see the homes, meet the builders, and get to know the area.
“All of our builders do different things, and you have a lot of different options with production builders and national and regional builders, and then there’s the person who already has their own lot and wants to go with the custom builder so they can make design choices that production builders don’t do,” Lisa says.
The beauty of the Parade of Homes is that it showcases the latest in home design. Though builders are more prominently featured, there are also architects, interior designers, landscapers, home automation specialists, kitchen and bath designers and manufacturers, and building product suppliers involved with the homes.
There is no better way to see what’s trending in home design, decorating, or appliances than to tour the Parade of Homes. It really is a way to learn everything you need to know about home design and building your dream house.
It’s interesting to note the strong connection between the number of homes in the parade and the strength of the local market. Last year’s event featured 31 homes. With the addition of remodeled homes, visitors will not only view the latest in contemporary looks, they’ll be able to see how timeless architectural design elements are blended with the latest in energy efficiency and home automation advances.
There are also some new popular elements you may see like the “drop zone,” a place to put purses, keys, mail, and phones or the addition of a pet bathing station, and home theaters.
“We also do an event with the Realtors Association to maximize exposure. We provide bus tours for the north, the south, and the central parts of the county to showcase the Parade of Homes for them,” Lisa says. “We serve them breakfast and then take them from home to home. Last year I went to all of the homes in a weekend, and even if you’re happy with your house, you can’t help but be impressed with what you aee.”
Outdoor living spaces is definitely a selling point for homes now. “It’s kind of like the urban campfire,” Lisa says. “People want the fire pit and those kinds of features make focus more on the family and that’s another draw for Lake County.”
Lisa says there are also the seniors who enjoy doing a lot of entertaining and the outdoor kitchen and fire pit become the focal point. “Pools are still a huge draw for people.”
“We’ve got homes as far down as Clermont and all the way up to Oxford, and everywhere in between,” Lisa says. “We have entries coming from all those different cities.”
The judges of the Parade of Homes must be from out of the area, and they will be judging the homes on Friday, Feb. 17, with the awards banquet the following Friday at the Harbor Hills Country Club. The judges will also choose the best feature of each home, and there will be a merit award given for this.
The HBA-LS members are not just builders. The three membership categories are builder members, associate members, and affiliate members. Associate members include title, mortgage, automotive, marketing, media, pool, paver, site work, concrete, lumber supply fencing, irrigation, lawn care, cleaning services, dumpster, roofer, electrical, and stucco companies (anyone who wants to network with builders) along with Realtors. One advantage for members of HBA-LS is they also belong to Florida Home Builders Association and the National Association of Home Builders.
Parade of Homes Entries
American Family Homes
Arlington Ridge Homes
David Weekley Homes
Dream Custom Homes of Citrus
Dream Finders Homes
Grand Oaks Manor
Mainsail Solutions/Green Key Village
Shea Homes/Trilogy Orlando
Parade of Home Entry Cities
Prepare for the tour
Pick out what you’re particularly interested in seeing before your go.
Plan your route so you know exactly where you’re going next.
Be prepared for the weather.
Wear comfortable shoes.
Arrive early and take your time touring the homes.
Take notes so you remember what you really liked.
Take photos with your cell phone.