At the height of the Wasatch Front's real estate market, the Salt Lake Parade of Homes had no shortage of properties priced at $1 million or more.
Four years into one of the deepest real estate downturns the state has ever seen, this year's showcase is less about unbridled opulence and more about homes that Utahns can actually afford.
Only three of the 27 custom-built homes that debut Friday in the 2011 Salt Lake Parade of Homes are priced at $1 million and up.
"Five years ago we probably would have had 12 to 15 homes in that price range," said Curt Dowdle, executive officer of the Salt Lake Home Builders Association. "The price point and the size of the homes in the parade has come way down."
Looser lending criteria of the early to mid-2000s fueled demand for and the construction of larger and more expensive homes. But when the housing market started to sour in the summer of 2007, banks put in place tighter lending criteria designed to stem losses. As a result, many builders can't get the loans needed to build multimillion-dollar homes, and more buyers those who don't pay cash can't get financing to buy them.
The Salt Lake Parade of Homes this year features properties of all styles and sizes scattered throughout Salt Lake, Davis and Tooele counties rather than in just one area or neighborhood. In addition to the 27 "traditional" parade properties built specifically for the annual event, there are another 15 model homes. The lowest priced property starts at $164,900.
Some Utahns are drawn to the parade because they are in the market for a new home; others look for decorating or design ideas or like to tour model homes for fun.
Dowdle said one encouraging sign is this year's 27 homes built specifically for the parade, which represents an increase from 16 last year.
In some cases, the homes were constructed by builders that are once again constructing some "spec" homes that don't yet have a buyer but will be marketed as move-in ready. In other cases the builder already has a buyer lined up.
"Either way, it's a good sign that there are more homes in the parade this year," Dowdle said.
In 2009, the Salt Lake Parade of Homes had a low of only one dozen homes. By that year, banks had yanked the credit lines of a number of builders making it impossible for many to build "spec" homes at all and many consumers found it extremely difficult to get home loans.
Ron Nelson, sales director for South Jordan-based Bangerter Homes, said financing these days is a little easier to come by these days, both for builders and buyers.
Bangerter Homes has two abodes in this year's parade. Entry No. 21 is in Daybreak and is priced at $399,000. But it's the house from the Disney movie "Up" that's attracted the most interest. The 2,800-square-foot home Parade of Homes entry No. 14 was designed to look as the home appears early in the movie, which features a house that floats away on balloons.
Bangerter Homes received permission from The Walt Disney Co. and its wholly owned subsidiary Pixar to market the property as the "Up House" until the end of the parade.
Nelson said his company doesn't have a specific asking price for the property, which is located in Herriman Towne Center. He said the company would like to sell the home with its furnishings, which also were modeled after the movie. But for now, the company is just enjoying all the attention the home is receiving.
Folks who want to see just how much talk there is about the property can do a Web search for "Up House in Utah."
"We've had a lot of interest in the house, and we have some people who want to buy it," Nelson said. "But we're not in a hurry to sell."
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If you go
The Salt Lake Parade of Homes runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily Friday through Aug. 14, including Sundays. This year, 42 properties are in the showcase 27 built specifically for the parade and 15 other model homes. For more information, go to saltlakeparade.com. Tickets are $10. For information about Parade of Homes in other areas, go to utahparade.com.