Incentives a factor as Spring Parade of Homes kicks off

04/11/2012 10:55 PM

04/11/2012 10:55 PM

One of the smallest Spring Parades of Homes in recent memory kicks off this weekend with big hopes, as Wichita and local cities jockey for their piece of the shrinking new homes industry.

A total of 113 new homes – about 30 fewer than usual with inventories still tight due to credit availability – will be open from noon to 6 p.m. for the next three Saturdays and Sundays, according to information from the Wichita Area Association of Builders. Homes range in price from $100,000 to more than $1.5 million. Tour guidebooks are available through the WABA office at 730 N. Main.

“The builders’ Parade and the Realtors Nationwide Open House are both happening in April, and we think there will be a good number of potential buyers getting out to see what is on the market,” said Tessa Hultz, chief executive of the Wichita Area Association of Realtors. “The low interest rates, affordable prices and homebuyer incentives coupled with the wonderful weather have all the hallmarks for making a great April kickoff to the spring/summer home-buying season.”

This spring, the parade is bolstered by the growing popularity of homebuyer incentives, with most area cities offering some sort of program to lure new-home buyers to town. The incentives run into the thousands of dollars per home, and have succeeded in places such as Maize, where housing starts have returned to pre-recession levels.

“Since the city announced its rebate program, which was taken note of more than some of the others, the awareness of that program and also the other incentive programs offered by area cities has gone way up,” said Wess Galyon, WABA president. “Since then, we have received hundreds of calls about the programs. It’s my opinion they see this property tax rebate as something of real value to them. … The individuals who’ve been in a buying mode but on the fence, I think it’s stimulated them to go out and shop and see what’s available.”

Those homebuyer incentives include:

•  100 percent property-tax rebates for five- and 10-year periods.
•  Free water and sewer service for limited periods.
•  Utility bill credits, depending on the prices of homes purchased.
•  Cash grants applicable to closing or landscaping costs.
•  Community recreation center memberships.
•  Prepayment of special assessments for specific time periods in certain areas.

The incentives, along with what brokers call growing consumer confidence, make this the most optimistic Parade in several years.

“The market seems to be strengthening, and we have definitely seen new interest,” said Doug Rupe of WaterWalk, which will display its condos during the event.

“We hope to introduce WaterWalk to people that haven’t considered us previously and to invite those that have toured before to return for another look. … We expect to build on the successful activity we experienced during last fall’s Parade.”

For more information on the Spring Parade of Homes, see www.wabahome.com

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