Abe Degnan of Degnan Design Builders toured the relatively empty rooms of his latest customized home. This one was built from the ground up in the Conservancy Place neighborhood, and he has about two weeks to finish and furnish the building.
Starting June 8, thousands of people will tour his creation and dozens of other homes around Dane County for the annual Parade of Homes.
"They come back, and they search out the same builders to talk to year after year after year, and they keep an eye on them so that when they're ready to go with their process, their building or remodeling," Degnan said, "they already have been watching the results that the Parade of Homes' builders deliver year after year after year."
Degnan, who also serves as the Madison Builder's Association president, admitted the recession called for some flexibility in his business.
"If your business is slower, you need to figure out how you're going to tighten things up, how you're going to be able to accomplish things with fewer employees," Degnan said, "and then being ready to have that team of trade contractors to be available to help your business grow and expand again as things start to pick up."
According to the Wisconsin Realtors’ Association, home sales were up 9.2 percent across the state last month compared to April 2012, representing the 22nd consecutive month of positive sales growth in Wisconsin. Home sales in Dane County were up 29.1 percent from April 2012 to April 2013.
Degnan has seen the effect of that boost in sales in his own business. He said inquiries and jobs are up for him and other builders, but that could mean a longer wait time for buyers and less availability of ready-to-buy homes.
Degnan said some of the area's contractors couldn't survive the economy.
"The most qualified companies are the ones that have still stayed in business and are the ones that are here today compared to when it was a little bit easier for just anyone to jump into business six years ago, eight years ago," Degnan said.
If nothing else, Degnan saw this ongoing improvement in the housing market as a good sign for everyone's wallet.
"Home building and remodeling truly leads the economy of this country on an upward path. When home building suffers, the economy suffers, and when home building is going well, the economy rises," Degnan explained.
For more information on the Parade of Homes, visit http://maba.org/.