PEORIA, Ill. -- John Callear is getting ready for the 21st annual Parade of Homes this weekend.
As a local home builder, Callear says the market for new home construction in this area bottomed out about a year ago but is now on the way back.
"We've seen a large turnaround since the end of last year through the beginning of this year," said Callear, who owns C & L Homes. "We already have more homes under contract this year than we did all of last year."
The increase in Callear's business seems to be a microcosm of a national trend. According the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development housing starts for single-family homes are up more than 18-percent from last year.
Interest rates are one reason for the increase in new home construction. The rate on a 30-year fixed loan is under 4-percent.
Peoria area realtor Rich Gillespie says those rates are helping fuel his best year as an agent.
"The lower the interest rate the more home people can buy because their payments are lower," Gillespie said. "It's a win-win for buyers and sellers."
The 18 properties featured in this year's Parade of Homes are all new builds, offering those who take the tour a wide range of designs and floor plans.
"Some are completely finished and furnished and landscaped," explained Lisa Scott, executive director of the Home Builders Association of Greater Peoria, "and others are in different stages of construction. For someone looking to buy a home, to tour the ones that maybe aren't completely finished, they still have the opportunity to make some personal choices for their home."
Tour books for the Parade of Homes are available at CEFCU. Or there's a list of the featured properties on the website of the Home Builders Association of Greater Peoria at PeoriaHBA.com .