Parade of Homes starting earlier as housing market shows signs of improvement

Deadline for tax credit is quickly approaching

Property owner Dan Schriner mows Thursday at 824 La. The Old West Lawrence home is one of 22 homes on the Spring Parade of Homes, which begins Saturday.

Early results are in: Home sales are up. Mortgage numbers are down. And folks who build homes are making one last push to cash in on a federal program that’s helping pump up the market.

The annual Spring Parade of Homes opens this weekend — a week earlier than normal — so potential buyers just might qualify for a tax credit up to $8,000.

“That tax credit goes away at the end of this month,” said Bobbie Flory of the Lawrence Home Builders Association. “We just don’t want somebody looking to buy at the end of May to say, ‘Oh, I missed that.’ “

A look at some numbers:


Percentage increase in number of home sales in Lawrence during the first 14 weeks of 2010, compared with the same period a year ago. Thank the tax credit, which stipulates a buyer must have a home under contract by April 30 and close within the following 60 days:

“We’re hoping this gives us the stimulus we need to get us going again,” said Steve LaRue of the Lawrence Board of Realtors.


Median price of a home sold in the first three months of this year, up $1,050 from same period in 2009.


Number of “contracts pending” on homes, expected to close during the next 60 days. Total sales during the first three months of 2010: 205. While the market likely will soften somewhat in the second half, “I think we’re turning the corner,” said Rub Hulse, the board’s executive director.


Properties on the home builders’ parade, which runs noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and April 24 and 25. For more information, including a map of homes open for viewing, visit


Old West Lawrence properties — at 642 La and 824 La. — on the parade, marking the first entries for a neighborhood with some of the city’s oldest homes. Extensive remodeling qualified them for the event normally limited to new construction, Flory said.


Percentage decline in collections of mortgage taxes during the first three months of 2010, compared with the same months last year. Reasons for the drop — $228,464 — are unclear, but commercial mortgages are down and refinancing activity may be off, said Kay Pesnell, the county’s register of deeds. LaRue, of McGrew Real Estate, suspects more buyers may be trading down or picking up foreclosed properties.

“I’ve already done four cash deals in 2010, and I usually only get one or two a year,” he said.