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8:54 am
Wed June 25, 2014

Plenty of People Love a Parade of Homes to Take Ideas Back to Their House

  The parking lot was crowded, and hundreds of people milled about the street in Cicero, strolling between the dozen brand new houses on this gorgeous first day of summer.

I've given up on trying to figure out why the annual Parade of Homes is so darn popular and just enjoy it. And this year was a very good one.

The scrooge in me a decade ago started out wide-eyed and rebellious when the woman who would become my dear wife Karen convinced me to attend my first walk between the expensive homes. Who could ever afford places like this, I said to her, loudly, drawing a look that said shaddup and a lesson in neighborly behavior all in one.

So I pulled on the white booties at each doorstep, walked up one flight of stairs and down another, saw big kitchens with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, visited master bedrooms with walk-in closets and in-suite bathrooms with jetted tubs and walk-in showers. I'm sure I was shaking my head an awful lot. The house I'd moved from in the Madison County village of Morrisville was big, in my mind, at least. It was also old and drafty and had none of those modern things.

Karen kept me around anyway, and we kept going to the Parade of Homes, traipsing through different new neighborhoods on the outskirts of Syracuse, even after we happily bought our Little Bitty in Eastwood.

When the planning started as we replaced the windows and doors and siding, Karen was able to say to me: Remember what we saw at the Parade of Homes?

As we decided it was time to have the kitchen remodeled, we had a good idea of what styles and colors of cabinets and flooring and countertops we wanted because of those visits to the Parade of Homes. By then we were regular viewers of the Home and Garden Network's "House Hunters" and "House Hunters International" shows. Those were like a shot of Parade of Homes in our living room every night. 

So these houses sit proudly, both sides of the same street. They are staged with new furniture and filled with realtors and designers and builders ready to answer questions and steer you to their easy and available purchase points. They are individually picked apart and analyzed by the thousands of visitors on the three weekends they're open during the Parade of Homes.

Traditionally, the Home Builders and Remodelers of Central New York has staged the event in September. This year, besides moving it to June, the amount of houses jumped from eight to an even dozen.

The neighborhood, off Maple Road in the Town of Clay, is called The Farmstead.

And, as Karen and I walked from the parking lot to the lovely lane, it looked like a true neighborhood. Although all 12 were constructed by different builders, the designs fit in well as a whole. Priced from about the mid-$300,000s to the high-$500,000s, a bunch of the houses have already been sold. A few are still available. The agent at the door made sure every visitor knew the name of the model, the name of the builder, the square footage, the price, and whether or not the house had already been purchased.

If so, and you really, really fell in love with the floor plan? Of course they'll build it for you on the lot of your choice.

I no longer ask myself who can afford these places because I can't.

Obviously, people around Central New York can. Bully for you. Invite Karen and I over for a barbecue. I'm a good conversationalist, and I can afford a bottle of wine to bring over.

Karen and I again were drawn to the one-story models because we're at the stage of our lives where we prefer stairs to be in our past. We have none now. We want none, ever. An open kitchen and living room and eating area in the middle, with the master suite off to one side and guest quarters and another bedroom/bath off to the other is quite attractive. There were several of these one-story types.

My favorite of the dozen was built by Martin Custom Homes. It carried the name The Skyler Rose, a 3,017-square-foot ranch. The concept was so open my jaw dropped when I walked in the front door. OK, maybe that had a little something to do with the pool table that was set up in the space immediately to the right, or the home theater that was front-left with a low-slung eating area set up in front of it, or the expansive kitchen island just behind it ...

Agents saw the enthusiasm in my eyes, or the iPhone clicking in my hand. In either case, one big guy wearing an official Martin Custom Homes shirt came over and told me that every day, without bringing in an extra table, there was room for 20 people to eat dinner in this big, open space.

He told me all of this was custom built for the couple who'd purchased this very house.

I bowed from the waist.

Are you reading, owners of this Skyler Rose? You can reach me via contact pages available at  waer.org or markbialczak.com once you're settled in, and Karen and I will definitely bring the wine AND the beer.

 The home buying market is up. Are you ready to purchase a new home? Have you gone to the Parade of Homes and come away with better ideas for what you'd like in a house? What are things you like or don't like about the Parade of Homes

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