This is no ordinary Fall Parade of Homes kicking off today around the Wichita area, with the theme "The Right Home, Right Now."
At a time when interest rates are at historic lows — but poised to rise, according to several local analysts — the Wichita Area Builders Association will kick off its parade at noon today with 164 featured homes from Newton to Derby north and south, and from El Dorado to Goddard east to west.
Rates are indeed low and money is available if you've got what WABA president Wess Galyon calls "the comfort level" to make a move in the most favorable homebuying market, yet unstable job market, in years.
Rates should remain low for the foreseeable future, Wichita State's Stan Longhofer said this week at the annual housing conference — but will soon begin inching up toward 6 percent.
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"We're still in record low interest rates and money is available to credit-worthy borrowers," Galyon said. "The price of materials used in these homes is as low as we've seen in decades, and it won't stay that way. It will jump quickly as soon as the market improves....
"And if people have the comfort level that they want to buy something, now is the time to do it. Rates will go up."
The parade includes a wide variety of homes, including a couple of Jack DeBoer's repackaged WaterWalk condominiums.
DeBoer has redecorated living spaces and repackaged entryways since acquiring the downtown development a year ago.
The parade is intended to bolster a Wichita housing market that has slowed since the deadline for federal tax credits expired last spring and slowed some more under the weight of aviation layoffs.
"We hope it will keep the momentum of the recovering housing market going through the end of 2010," said Tessa Hultz, chief executive of the Wichita Area Association of Realtors.
"We hope that the Parade of Homes will provide an opportunity for buyers to get out to see the fantastic selection of homes available and take advantage of today's record low interest rates."