SPRING HILL — One could call the revived sponsorship by the Hernando Builders Association of the 2014 Parade of Homes of the Nature Coast a sign of faith that the county's building industry finally is climbing out of its long slumber.
Last year saw 239 permits issued for single-family home construction, a marked increase from the 160 issued in 2012, and the most issued in any single year since 2008, when home sales and prices everywhere in Florida began slumping and consumer confidence was plummeting. So dismal was the housing picture that the Hernando builders chose to simply skip their spring home showcase in 2010, opting to combine efforts with the Citrus County Builders Association the next four years.
That said, organizers of this year's effort are putting their best face on a situation that many say is still uncertain.
"The new housing market is getting stronger, but it still has plenty of ups and down," said Brenda McDaniel, executive officer of the Hernando Builders Association. "Builders are still very optimistic about their ability to sell and about what's on the market."
Essential to encouraging buying interest is getting people to walk through a model and take note of aesthetics and features such as energy-efficient kitchens and innovative floor plans. That's what events like parades of homes are designed to do. Then the trick is to turn lookers into buyers.
The two-week showcase, which kicked off Saturday and runs through April 13, has been heavily promoted by both the Hernando and Citrus home builders associations. Models are in Hernando Oaks, Southern Pines Condos, Sand Ridge, at the corner of Mariner and Elgin boulevards, along Spring Hill Drive and on U.S. 19 near River Country Estates in Hernando County. In Citrus County, there are models in Sugarmill Woods, Black Diamond Ranch, Pine Ridge and Homosassa.
Included in the showcase are three virtual entries, a feature that has grown increasingly popular in recent years with smaller builders who do not maintain active model homes.
Being that it is Hernando's first Parade of Homes since 2009, McDaniel is predicting a good turnout.
"I feel like people are ready to move on," she said. "If they've been thinking about building a home, they've decided that rates probably aren't going to get any better anytime soon, and property values are no longer falling like they were. It's a good time to build."
Logan Neill can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 848-1435.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Model homes for the 2014 Parade of Homes of the Nature Coast, sponsored by the Hernando Builders Association, are in Hernando Oaks, Southern Pines Condos, Sand Ridge, at the corner of Mariner and Elgin boulevards, along Spring Hill Drive and on U.S. 19 near River Country Estates in Hernando County. In Citrus County, there are models in Sugarmill Woods, Black Diamond Ranch, Pine Ridge and Homosassa. The locations were incorrect in a story published in Sunday's Hernando Times. The parade runs through April 13. Models are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.