The 2016 Parade of Homes, presented by the Greater Fort Smith Association of Home Builders (GFSAHB), will kick off Thursday night, Oct. 20, with a VIP reception from this year’s Showcase Home at 8508 Stoneshire Drive in the Chaffee Crossing area. The home is one of 22 entered in this year’s parade – almost double that of last year’s 12.
The increase in activity is exemplary of rising home sales and real estate values in the Fort Smith metro. There were 1,655 homes sold in the region valued at $241.964 million through the first nine months of this year. Unit sales in Crawford and Sebastian counties increased 2.41% from the 1,616 homes sold through September 2015.
Built by Todd Basham of Basham Homes, the 2,600-square foot Showcase Home is a four-bed, four-bath with an open floor plan, gourmet/outdoor kitchens, bonus room, 3-car garage, and professional landscaping among other amenities. It will be open to the public starting Oct. 21 and remain so through Oct. 30.
According to GFSAHB Executive Officer Stephanie Stipins, the house already has an offer on it with an anticipated closing date of Nov. 10, marking the third consecutive year the Showcase Home has been under contract before the end of the Parade of Homes event. Coincidentally, three years is the same amount of time Stipins has been in her position, but she insisted that “It doesn’t have a lot to do with me. It’s just the momentum.”
The Parade of Homes began sometime in the early 1980s, Stipins said, admitting she wasn’t sure on the exact date but that the first Showcase Homes started to appear “in 1983 or ’84.”
Area builders will typically enter homes they have built “on spec” (without a buyer) and the GFSAHB will market the grouping through online, television, and newspaper media sources as well as the organization’s website and Facebook pages. Each home will also feature a game card where attendees can receive “proof” of visitation, thus qualifying for a $1,000 drawing, Stipins said, because “we want to encourage people to go see every house.”
“That’s because they’ll say, ‘Oh I don’t want to live in Alma, or I don’t want to live in Van Buren, but I want to enter the $1,000 competition to win. So Armstrong Bank is sponsoring that, and it encourages people to see each home.”
Visibility, Stipins notes, can make all the difference when it comes to closing sales.
“We had two houses on the north side of town, over on North 6th — reduced price, brand new homes the Fort Smith Housing Authority built that just couldn’t draw traffic, but we were able to get them out there.”
Both sold, Stipins said, “because people were like, ‘Oh this isn’t so bad.’ We just had to get them over there to see it.”
The 2016 Parade of Homes Schedule for 21 of the 22 homes will run from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays through Sundays (Oct. 21-23, 28-30), while the Showcase Home will remain open for the entire two-week period. Fort Smith – specifically the Chaffee Crossing and Rye Hill areas – will host 15 of the locations while the remaining seven will be split across Van Buren (4), Greenwood (2), and Alma (1). List prices range from $142,000 to $488,800. The Showcase Home is listed at $434,400.