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This year's Salt Lake Parade of Homes is a long-awaited celebration of the return of the homebuyer.

Five years after the housing market along the Wasatch Front went bust, sales of new homes are slowly on the rebound.

"With lower prices and 3½ to 4 percent mortgage rates, people are seeing that they can get more home than they could before," said Paul Peterson, executive officer with the Salt Lake Home Builders Association. "It's brought affordability back."

In 2007, at the height of the market, builders took out permits for the construction of more than 7,200 homes along the Wasatch Front from January through July. By 2008, building activity plummeted to about 2,600 permits in that same period.

This year, builders took out 3,788 permits in that time frame — a five year high that's up 28 percent from during the same period last year.

The 2012 Salt Lake Parade of Homes features properties of all styles and sizes in locations throughout the Salt Lake area. In addition to the 23 "traditional" parade properties built specifically for the annual event, there are another dozen model homes being showcased. The event runs Friday through August 18 from noon to 9 p.m. daily. (Some individual properties may not be open for viewing on Sundays.)

For home locations and information go to

Although most homes in the parade are detached single-family houses, several are attached dwellings, including townhomes priced as low as $182,000.

Absent is the array of million dollar-plus mansions popular in past parades. In fact, the only home that's worth more than $1 million in this year's collection is the Loeffler Residence in Draper, a 20,222-square-foot custom home built by Lane Myers Construction for David Loeffler, co-manager for the recording artist Usher. The cost of construction and the sales price of the mansion are not being disclosed.

The overall theme of the year's show, though, remains affordable elegance — homes with features such as granite countertops and vaulted ceilings.

Most of the homes in this year's parade are priced in the $200,000s to the $400,000s. Only four are in the $800,000-$900,000 range.

Garbett Homes is using the event to show off a solar-powered home it is building in the Daybreak development in South Jordan. The energy-efficient dwelling priced at $236,400 has 2,160 square feet and qualifies for an $8,000 federal income tax credit for energy-efficient construction.

"It's the greenest home in the parade," said Garbett's marketing director Rene Oehlerking. "It's pretty cool."

To appeal to a more diverse group of buyers, many builders are expanding their offerings of lower-priced townhomes and other high-density housing.

Holmes Homes has a townhome priced at $196,000 in this year's parade with a private front yard and two-car garage.

Even though the parade this year is doesn't feature a bunch of million-dollar properties, the Home Builders' Peterson said there is still plenty of luxury for those who enjoy looking at — and dreaming about — expensive homes.

"You have to remember that what in 2006 would have been a $1 million home is now a $600,000 or $700,000 home. They may have a lower price tag, but they are still luxury homes." Twitter: @cheapchick —

If you go

P Salt Lake Parade of Homes

When • Friday-Aug. 18,noon-9 p.m. daily (some homes are not open on Sundays)

Tickets • Regular admission is $15. Discount tickets are $12 if you buy at or $10 if purchased at any RC Willey store.

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