The extremely welcome warm weather of the past week has been bringing interested visitors by the thousands to the Spring Parade of Homes.
New home sales agents are reporting people were lined up in anticipation of visiting show homes.
It's been a long, cold, miserable winter and it's been fabulous to finally be able to get out and discover the possibilities represented by the new homes on display during the parade.
Sales representatives showing the parade's 122 new homes have also been bombarded with a flurry of questions in the first two weeks of the event, with financial items front and centre. Visitors seem particularly enamoured with low mortgage rates and predictions they will continue, assuring now is an ideal time to buy a new home.
Some show homes display samples of mortgage calculations, while others promote banks and credit unions that are able to assist buyers.
Given most people visit a variety of new homes in the parade, it's inevitable comparison shopping and questions about the availability of different features arise. For instance, sales representatives have been asked about the cost of changing flooring to something that was seen elsewhere. Kitchen countertops and cabinets also stimulate discussions for changes, bathroom design is always a popular topic.
Given the cold weather of the past four months, energy efficiency is of interest and importance to visitors. Manitoba new homes are the most energy-efficient in Canada. Since 1990, their energy efficiency has increased by 21.6 per cent while greenhouse gas emissions have declined by 40 per cent.
A new feature at this year's Parade that has proven to be very popular is the online ranking of new homes. Everyparade attendee can rank each home they visit in four different categories on a five-star scale. Simply click on the QR code on display in the home and you get to decide the winners of this year's parade.
If you don't know, don't be afraid to ask. The show-home staff offer a wealth of information and, if they don't immediately know the answer, they can find out and get back to you.
Remember, the 2014 Spring Parade of Homes continues through Sunday, March 23. Show homes are open Monday through Thursday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.
Mike Moore is the president of the Manitoba Home Builders' Association.