The last two years, local builder Josh Doyle has constructed model homes for display in the annual Parade of Homes and gotten a pretty good response from visitors. The area event usually features more than a dozen homes scattered among numerous sites throughout the metro Toledo.
This year, however, he has built three homes to display in the parade, which starts next week. And enthusiasm for the event — and possibly overall interest in buying new homes — seems to be growing.
"For the most part, we will probably double the amount of people that came through last year, based on the number who are e-mailing us and inquiring," said Mr. Doyle, owner of Homes by Josh Doyle LLC. "So I think the market is picking up on the real estate side and people are just getting a little more enthusiastic than they were last year.
"My business is way ahead of last year and I see things getting even better next year," he added.
The Parade of Homes, which is sponsored by the Home Builders Association of Greater Toledo Inc., begins Sept. 21 and runs through Sept. 30. It will feature homes at 19 sites throughout northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan, with home prices ranging from $120,000 to more than $500,000.
"We've got 'em on the water up in Monroe and practically any kind of setting you want," said Bill Brennan, HBA executive vice president.
"I don't predict how these things will go, but, absolutely, I think interest is up in home building."
Mr. Brennan said he has recently received four or five new applications from home builders.
"So we're seeing more interest in people getting back into the association," Mr. Brennan said. "To me, that means they're making a little money again."
Mr. Doyle's company is working in three price ranges for the upcoming parade: a $240,000 house in Whitehouse, a $375,000 house in Monclova Township, and a $500,000 house in Monclova Township. "A lot of this is happenstance. This year I just happened to be building two more models than normal and they all just came together about the same time," he said.
But Mr. Brennan said that at recent association membership meetings "everybody is more optimistic" about new home sales. He said there is a general feeling among area homebuilders participating in the parade that this year's event, unlike the last several, is going to be about far more than just showing the public the type of homes they can build.
"I think most sense now that, if they've got a model to show, that there is an opportunity to get work off of it," Mr. Brennan said. "Instead of being in the doldrums, I think they now sense this show will be a generator of business."
Housing starts in metro Toledo this year are running about the same as in 2011. But the level of optimism appears to be running significantly higher this year among area home builders, Mr. Brennan said, as the housing picture continues to improve nationwide. According to the National Association of Home Builders, sales of new single-family homes rose 3.6 percent in July from the previous month — the fastest sales rate in two years.
Also, builders nationwide pulled more permits in July for planned new-home projects than they have in any month since August, 2008.
Interest in home building locally has revived to the point where next year the Home Builders Association plans to hold two Parades of Homes — the scattered-site edition in the fall, but also a single-site edition in the spring. That one will feature about nine homes in the new Walnut Springs subdivision in Sylvania Township being planned by local developer Doug Wamsher.
It would be the HBA's first single-site parade in eight years.
"We had nine builders show up for lot drawing. Everyone is pretty excited about it," Mr. Brennan said. The last single-site parade was held in 2004, after which subdivision development slowed to the point that such an event was difficult to produce.
"The last thing we needed was to put 15 spec homes in a neighborhood and let them sit there," Mr. Brennan said. "But I think the whole industry is feeling that maybe it's time we can start doing things again."
The upcoming fall parade will be open from 5 to 8 p.m. Fridays, from 1 to 8 p.m. Saturdays, and from 1 to 6 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $5 and can be bought at any Parade home or at The Andersons stores. A Parade of Homes Guide including a map to the homes will be published Sept. 20 in The Blade.
Contact Jon Chavez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6103.