One amenity that's been scarce for several years will probably be seen in every one of the 120 new houses in this year's Parade of Homes:
The parade, sponsored by Womble Co., state distributor of Pella windows and doors, has 120 homes open free to the public from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. through Oct. 7. A smart app is available help guide guests. Free parade guides with maps and home descriptions are available at metro-area Arvest Bank and Best Buy locations or go online to www.paradeofhomesok.com.
Building is booming again, with Oklahoma City 30 percent ahead of this time last year in home starts and consumer and homebuilder confidence both on the rise.
“(Judging from) everyone I've talked to, it seems to be the best year we've had in the past four years, by far,” said Kurt Dinnes, president of the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association and owner of Sun Custom Homes.
Unlike previous election years, people seem to be rushing to buy before Election Day, he said, because the uncertainty after the election is outweighing the questions people have before the Nov. 6 vote.
Persistently low loan rates — 3.69 percent here in August, according to the Metro Association of Realtors — are driving buyers to make decisions now, he said, because people worry that rates will rise next year after the election, depending on what the federal government does regarding the economy.
Oklahoma housing and the state's low unemployment rate — 5.1 percent in August, compared with 8.1 percent for the nation — still are getting the national attention of builders, said Dinnes, just back from the National Association of Home Builders fall board of directors meeting in Austin, Texas.
“Oklahoma shows being almost back to the normal levels and has remained one of the top five states leading the nation in homebuilding recovery, thus leading the nation with respect to the economic recovery,” he said.
The nation's builders are starting to smile, as well.
“It now appears that all states are reporting fairly good increase in new starts over 2011 numbers and that unemployment has also improved. The general consensus was that the homebuilding recovery is moving in the right direction,” Dinnes said.
Oklahoma City-area Realtors reported 1,922 home sales in August, up 25.6 percent from August 2011, with it taking 74 days on average to sell a home once put on the Multiple Listing service, a full week faster than a year ago.
During the Parade of Homes, shoppers will see the latest and best that builders and their subcontractors and suppliers have to offer, said builder Kenyon Woods, parade chairman and co-owner of Authentic Custom Homes.
Energy conservation features and home automation “where you can control your house with an iPhone or iPad, are two areas getting a lot of attention this year, Woods said.
“It has been a great year of homebuilding in the Oklahoma City metro and we are proud to present to you what we have been working on,” he wrote in the parade guide book. “We, as builders, spend many hours attending conferences both in our area and across the U.S., touring homes and researching the latest innovations in building to make sure that our homes are excellent in both construction and style. We take great pride in our homes and we are very excited to show them off to the public during the Parade of Homes.”
Most parade homes are in the following neighborhoods: Hidden Creek, north of NW 122 and east of MacArthur Boulevard; Pleasant Grove, west of Council Road north of Memorial Road; Monterau, at NW 150 and County Line Road; Rose Creek, NW 164 and N May Avenue; and Williamson Farms, SW 119 and Meridian Avenue.