It’s been almost a quarter century since the Outer Banks Home Builders Association’s first Parade of Homes became a part of autumn traditions on the Outer Banks. We’ve never sat down and counted just how many homes have been a part of creating that tradition, but it’s a lot and it has always represented the finest builders and artisans living and working on the Outer Banks.
Over the years a number of builders have always made it a point to be a part of the Parade, and it’s interesting hearing what they have to say about it.
Mark and Sandy Martin are Sandmark Construction and they may hold the record for the most appearances in a Parade of Homes. “This is our 20th,” Mark says. “We’ve missed maybe three of them.” Usually, he notes, it’s family-related if they don’t have at least one entry —taking kids to college and helping them get settled in or a wedding or birthday that coincides.
What they have found, according to Mark, is that it gives the people touring the homes a chance to know they are going to be there. “People see us year after year,” he says. “They may want to do something three or four years down the road, and by seeing us every year, they know we’ll be here.”
He also notes it’s a chance to demonstrate the range of expertise Sandmark can offer clients. “We have two homes (in the Parade) this year A new home and a big remodel on Scarborough Lane.”
Matt Neal of Neal Contracting is a third generation builder on the Outer Banks following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Briggs and father David.
Like Mark Martin, he has learned the Outer Banks Parade of Homes is about building relationships. “Leads percolate over time,” he says. What he has found particularly helpful for him is the personal relationships he can build with prospective clients. “They want to see it and feel it for themselves,” Matt says. “It’s a really good chance to meet face to face.” As a contractor building custom homes, building that personal relationship is important. “It’s how we differentiate ourselves,” he says.
The Parade of Homes seems to work for the small builder who builds only four or five custom homes a year and for the large volume builders as well. SAGA Construction and Development has not missed a year since their first entries in 2007. Principal in the corporation Amit Gupta explains a somewhat different perspective. “Most builders tend to use Parade of Homes as a sales tool to sell a “spec” home or a new home that could be replicated, which is great, but for SAGA it is has a much more valuable purpose! Parade of Homes is our single biggest event of the year, and it’s a great time for us to connect one-on-one with our potential clients. This allows us to have real-time feedback on what we are doing right and where there are areas we can improve on for the future. Real estate in the Outer Banks is very dynamic as far as home features, style, and services, and in order to stay ahead of the competition, we have to be able to connect with the people. As a brand and lifestyle company, Parade of Homes provides an excellent venue to interact with past owners and future clients over the 4 days.”