Parade of Homes boasts seven new luxury homes

Organizers hope event, running through Aug. 7, will beat last year's turnout

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter



If you go

What: The 2011 Northwest Natural Parade of Homes, a tour of model houses that highlights innovation in home construction.

When: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. today through Aug. 7 (closed Mondays and Tuesdays).

Where: Moongate subdivision in Felida.

Cost: $10 for adults and children 13 and older; free to children 12 and younger.

Information: http://www.clarkc...

Local builders spent this week putting the final touches on seven new houses being prepped for the annual Parade of Homes showcase.

The event kicks off at 11 a.m. today at the Moongate subdivision in the Felida area. It is sponsored by Northwest Natural Gas Co. and hosted by the 700-member Clark County Building Industry Association. The group will highlight a variety of houses equipped with the latest building materials and techniques, said Jim Beriault, the association’s promoter. He expects at least 10,000 visitors to attend.

“That’s how many came last year. We’d love to get in the mid-teens this year,” said Beriault of Beriault Entertainment Marketing.

He said four out of the seven Parade of Homes models have been presold, calling it a good sign for local builders. Local homebuilding has been halved so far this year, as measured by building permits for single-family houses. In the six months ending in June, there were 162 permits issued in unincorporated Clark County, down from 329 permits handed out during the first two quarters of 2010.

Beriault said presales were pretty much a requirement for builders to secure financing, due to the sluggish housing market and tightened lending restrictions.

“That’s just the reality of doing business now,” he said. “Five years ago, the homes were built on spec and you had to hope they sold.”

Parade houses on display have list prices ranging from $500,000 to $800,000.

This year’s showcase will feature the work of six local custom home-building companies: Tamarack Homes, Bella Villa Homes, Cascade West Development, NW Classic Homes, Axiom Luxury Homes and Manor Custom Homes.

Beriault estimated the construction site has kept hundreds of local contractors and their employees working since early spring. He said the activity helps builders justify hosting the event, despite sluggish home sales.

“There’s always criticism from the public that this (event) doesn’t need to happen,” he said. “But a lot of people got some steady pay over the last few months.”

Among the show’s target buyers are high-income families and retiring baby boomers. Beriault said many of the elegant, model homes are suitable for retirement living.

Features include floor plans with main-floor living, luxurious travertine tile and granite finishes, and the latest in home technology, including the Freewatt electrical system, which uses natural gas to provide heating while generating the home’s electricity simultaneously.

“That technology will make its Washington debut,” Beriault said.

For parade attendees who are interested in seeing more houses for sale, builders also will host a self-guided Open House Tour of more than 20 newer houses. The event will run the length of the Parade of Homes event. For remodeling ideas, the builders group will highlight its work through the Remodeled Home Tour on July 30-31.