The Salt Lake Valley's annual Parade of Homes is in full swing. There are 33 models on display through Aug. 12 from Cottonwood Heights to Riverton. Given that we're in a seller's market and there are few available homes, having all these beautiful, tempting residences to visit is like smelling the sweet goodness of fresh cinnamon buns wafting through the mall when the bakery just sold out.
According to the Salt Lake Home Builders Association, our Parade of Homes dates back to 1946, and was one of the first in the country. That year, the average annual income in the U.S. was $2,600 and the average cost of a home was $5,150. A new car was $1,125 and a gallon of gas was 21 cents. Since then, countless potential buyers from around the country have viewed the grand showcase of town homes, ranch/ramblers, multi-levels, condominiums and patio homes. Participating in the event will cost you a small fee (which pays for advertising and goes to charities the builders have chosen) but the benefits are terrific because you get the latest in both big and small builders' designs and finishes.
In recent Parades, I saw modern granite and composite countertops (like recycled glass and quartz), Nest monitoring systems, 3-D electric fireplaces and kitchen appliances. If I had just gone to my local big-box hardware store, I wouldn't have been able to see these items installed and working as they would in my own home.
The reality is that you can't actually buy any of the properties on the tour just yet, as they are models for builders' subdivisions and examples of their work. Nor do builders throw up 20 homes and wait for you to buy them during the event. Each builder has a certain number of lots, and you can meet with their representatives to discuss where you might want to live and in what style home. Sadly, our market is so tight for buyers that construction time (which would usually be around six months) might be closer to 10 months, due to a lack of available land and a labor shortage in the construction industry. And, of course, the cost of living is much more expensive now than in 1946—a gallon of gas averages $2.48, monthly rent for a 900-square-foot apartment is $1,173 and finding a home for less than $350,000 is near impossible in Salt Lake City, at least in my experience.
If you love to shop, love to dream or are truly ready to build and buy a home, check out saltlakeparade.com to see where the model homes are located and visit them.