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What's new in Manatee, Sarasota counties?

Buyers can check out 130 homes in a range of prices and admire three dream homes.

The spring Parade of Homes season begins today, when 130 homes by 61 builders open the doors of model homes in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Builders are offering something for every price range: from townhomes under $100,000 to single-family homes beginning at $107,000 in Manatee to the top of the market at $799,000.

The parade, a showcase of new construction, continues through Feb. 20. See the box on Page 5D for times and details.

The number of entries is up from last year's 118, said Brenda Talbert, executive officer of the Home Builders Association of Manatee County, but down from the all-time high of 141 three years ago. "A lot of it is product availability, new developments coming on line," she said.

There's an increase in the number of multifamily entries: 13 in Manatee and 12 in Sarasota, up from only one or two in that category in years past. That reflects the interest in townhouses as well as beachfront condos, Talbert said.

"The preponderance of entries in Sarasota are in the range of $185,000 to $263,000," she said. Manatee probably has more entries under $150,000, but "there's still a very strong middle range from $200,000 to $300,000."

Something different has been added this year: the "Boulevard of Dreams." Three expensive homes in the Silver Oak section at the huge Palmer Ranch subdivision in Sarasota have been set aside for this special showcase. Visitors will pay $5 to tour these three homes only, with the proceeds going to the Children's Haven, a local organization that benefits disabled children and adults.

The Boulevard of Dreams homes include the Talia model, by John Cannon Homes ($819,900), with a second-floor guest suite, French country kitchen and luxurious family room. The Biscayne, by Bamboo Building & Development ($644,564), has four bedrooms, 3{ baths, a conservatory, split garage and loft retreat. Todd Johnston Homes will introduce its Augusta model ($798,071), an Italian Renaissance home with 4,476 square feet, a theater, balcony and bath with Roman shower.

(To reach Silver Oak at Palmer Ranch, take I-75 south to Exit 39 and turn west on Clark Road. Turn left on Beneva Road, left on U.S. 41, and left on Central Sarasota Parkway and follow it to Silver Oak.)

Readers of the February issue of Home magazine may have noticed a story about Sarasota interior designer Ed Biggs of Home Resource, who designed a home for first-time buyers in Sarasota with vivid citrus colors and '50s designs. He has used many of the same colors and design trends for the Pembrook model at Savannah in Turtle Rock: an orange shag rug in the great room, yellow barrel chairs with blue trim surrounding a stainless-framed glass cocktail table. (To reach Turtle Rock, take I-75 south to Exit 39 and turn west on Clark Road. Pass the Winn-Dixie and turn left on Honore Parkway. Turtle Rock is about 2{ miles ahead on the left.)

Manatee-Sarasota Parade of Homes

What: Parade of Homes, showcase of new construction

When: Today through Feb. 20. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; noon to 5 p.m. Sundays

Where: At subdivisions throughout Manatee and Sarasota counties. The parade guidebook is available at SunTrust branches in the two counties and at the models. It will be inserted in Sunday editions of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and the Bradenton Herald.