A Parade of Homes and Dreams

To live is to dream, and some of my favorite fantasies involve beautiful houses! How adult of me, right?

I just love seeing what’s new and trendy in the world of home building, and enjoy taking mental notes of what I’d love to have or try to avoid once I’m in the process of finding (or some day building) a home. And how do I do that without being hounded by realtors during an open house? I participate in the Parade of Homes — specifically the event in Grand Rapids.

The Home Builders Association of Greater Grand Rapids hosts a spring and fall Parade, showcasing dozens of newly constructed or renovated houses and condos. For a small $12 fee, you get to explore as many houses listed on the roster as you want, and the ticket lasts throughout the entire event, which is typically two to three weekends and some Wednesdays. You drive yourself to each location.


The homes that are featured come in all styles and square footage, and while many are up for sale, some have already sold to lucky families. Typically you’ll be able to speak to the builder on site, even if it’s just to compliment his work, and most of the houses are decorated with furniture, artwork, and other home goods from local businesses to help you really get a feel for what it would be like to live under the roof.

I’ve been to a good number of Parade of Homes tours, and I’ve learned that if you try to see everything, it could be a waste of time depending on your likes, dislikes, and needs when dreaming of or seriously looking to build/purchase a new home. I personally have a few guidelines when planning which houses to see and which to leave behind.

Builders: Simply put, after seeing so many houses by generally the same builders every year, you get to learn which perform quality work and which, well, don’t. I definitely have my favorite companies (Eastbrook Homes, y’all!), so I always make a point to see their new homes, even though I’m familiar with their styles. Builders who are new or at least new to the Parade of Homes are usually a “go look” for me, unless they lack on the two other things in my guidelines…

Square Footage: Although I seriously doubt I’m going to have children one day, I’ve found that houses in the 2,500 square foot range are ones I feel fit me best. It’s large enough without being too big, allowing for room to grow. Usually a home of this size has 2-3 bedrooms, two full baths, and one half bath, along with a finished basement. I prefer to have the extra space because I’d love to entertain and have guests over often, and desire an office space. Square footage is more important to me than having a two-story or ranch-style home.

The Dream: Some houses, no matter what, are “must sees.” I’m talking about the larger-than-life, decked out in all things luxury and excess type of homes. These particular showcases are not to be taken seriously as housing prospects, but to simply marvel at the space and dream of owning something like it if you became famous or won the lottery. Homes in this category usually hit about 4,000 square feet or higher, and have a “contact builder for price” printed in the description. These houses will make your eyes bug out of your head upon arrival.

However, there are a few exceptions to the rule. If there’s a really awesome-looking home built by a construction company I know I don’t care for, I will forgo the visit to that location. There’s one builder in particular I pretty much refuse to waste my time on, so I take a minute to cross all of their houses off the list. I also don’t visit the renovated homes or condos.

I look forward to the Parade of Homes each time it arrives, and even if I don’t attend, I usually check out the website to see what I’ll miss. If you love houses and love to dream like I do, give it a try. I know other communities in Michigan have their own Parade of Homes, and I’m sure other states do, too! You never know what you’ll see.

And speaking of never knowing what you’ll see, make sure you follow me on Instagram and check out my daily Instagram Stories! Get a behind-the-scenes and sometimes first look at my daily life and blog posts! You know you want to.


— Some photos by Justin McKee —

About Karin

Journalist, singer, reader, movie fanatic, photography buff, GVSU alum, wanna-be-Brit, Crohn's fighter, Coca-Cola addict, animal lover, not a kid person, hater of winter, Michigander
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