DAYTONA BEACH — The Volusia Building Industry Association quietly kicked off its annual Volusia Parade of Homes event this past weekend six months after it was originally scheduled.
The delay was caused by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
The nine-day event, which features more than 50 entries by area home builders throughout Volusia County, runs through this Sunday.
While September is usually considered one of the slower months of the year for home sales, local builders appeared pleased with the turnout for the Parade’s opening weekend, said Laura Perkins, the association’s executive director.
ALSO READ: Home prices, sales climbing at record pace in Volusia, Flagler counties
And to be clear, there is nothing usual or normal about this year with the COVID-19 crisis still going on.
“Nothing is the same. There’s no measurements with what’s going on this year,” said Perkins. “The builders seem optimistic. They’re busier than ever.”
Michelle Llanos, director of sales training and strategies for ICI Homes, said her company’s model home at the new Verona Oceanside community in Ormond-by-the-Sea had nearly 200 visitors during the Parade’s opening weekend.
“We had three people interested in purchasing,” she added.
Verona is the featured Showcase Community in this year’s Parade. The community off of A1A, directly west of Ormond-by-the-Sea’s historic World War II-era watch tower, offers 39 single-family home lots as well as lots for 18 townhouses.
“Instead of having a VIP event (to celebrate the start of this year’s Parade), in place of that because of COVID we did a virtual tour video that we’ve circulated,” Llanos said. “So it’s a little bit different this year.”
The Parade offers prospective homebuyers, as well as those who are just plain curious, to check out model homes and communities by dozens of local homebuilders via self-guided tours. The event is essentially a simultaneous open house of 53 different properties throughout the county.
This year’s Parade is the first to take place in the fall as opposed to the start of spring, which is typically peak home-buying season.
Rick Daniels, this year’s board president for the Volusia Building Industry Association, acknowledged that foot traffic at Parade entries this year is down from what can normally be expected in March, but said, “It’s been positive. We’re getting a lot of serious lookers.”
Daniels is a project manager with Vanacore Homes in Ormond Beach, which has three entries in this year’s Parade, all at its Halifax Plantation community just east of Interstate 95’s Exit 278.
“We wrote two contracts at Halifax Plantation this past weekend,” Daniels said. “One is local. The other is from the North.”
Dale Roberts, a spokesman for Vanacore Homes, said there were people waiting to see the Parade homes at Halifax Plantation 30 minutes before opening time.
Shannon Pennett, director of sales for Olsen Custom Homes, said her company’s Parade entry also had a “very strong” turnout opening weekend.
“There were more serious buyers than prior years with many prospects already owning a lot or actively looking for one,” she said. “They are looking to build very soon and are happy to have the Parade of Homes to tour area home builders.”
Perkins said one unusual thing that wound up happening because of the six-month delay in holding the Parade is that several of the entries have already been sold.
The association also decided to go ahead and hold its Parade awards gala in early September, something that usually occurs after the event.
“The awards have already been handed out because nothing is normal this year,” said Perkins. “So the builders who won have their awards displayed in their Parade entries.”
This year’s top score winner in the single-family home category was the “Lambrusco II” home built by Fretwell Homes in the Briargate section of Hunter’s Ridge in Ormond Beach. The house is at 116 Briargate Look.
The top score winner in the multifamily residential unit category was a condominium unit in the Marina Grande twin-tower condo complex along the Halifax River in Holly Hill. The condo, unit 1902-1, was an entry by Re/Max Signature.
The Parade’s Showcase Community this year is ICI Homes’ Verona Oceanside community at 5 Watchtower Drive in Ormond Beach.
The top 55-and-older community was Minto Communities’ Latitude Margaritaville in Daytona Beach.
All Parade entries are following the coronavirus safety guidelines issued by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, including social distancing and requiring visitors to wear masks while inside the model homes.
Llanos of ICI said attendees of this year’s Parade seem understanding of the need to follow coronavirus safety guidelines.
“I’d say 98% come with their own masks,” she said, adding that ICI has masks available at its Parade homes for visitors who don’t have one.
“So many people have been calling (the Volusia Building Industry Association) to find out of the Parade is a virtual or in-person event,” said Perkins. “They seem excited to learn that it is in-person.”
For information, including a full list of this year’s Parade entries and how to visit them, as well as a complete list of this year’s award winners, please visit news-journalonline/paradeofhomes. The Volusia Building Industry Association can be reached at 386-226-1414.
This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Volusia Parade of Homes underway