The Built to Rent Opportunity
Yet, with so few options for affordable housing, the built to rent housing market is drawing significant interest.
It’s a rental market trend worth investigating. Buyers want single family houses and not being able to buy, they are eager to rent, and at high rent prices. That creates an opportunity for investors.
A new report from Rentcafe states that a record 6,740 new built-to-rent houses were completed in 2021, and that 14,000 new houses for rent would be completed by end of 2022.
NAHB’s reports new construction starts of about 16,000 single-family built-for-rent (SFBFR) starts during Q3 2022 (down 6% vs Q3 2021). That’s understandable given the housing market trend overall. During this past 12 months, there were 68,000 new house starts, which was up 42% vs the 48,000 in the previous 12 months.
Built for rent however is gaining marketshare vs other housing options.
And in the Multifamily housing sector, the trend to built for rent is obvious. America is a renter nation.
Built for rent multifamily starts in USA. Screenshot courtesy of NAHB and eyeonhousing.
Investors Eyeing the Built for Rent Business Model
Investors are interested in the built to rent sector. It is creating demand for both property managers and HOA management companies.
Las Vegas, Houston, Tucson, and Phoenix currently have the most built for rent housing in the US. Cities that are adopting built to rent communities at the fastest pace include Phoenix, Columbus, Dallas, Houston, Riverside, Las Vegas and Kansas. Given migration to the south, and availability of land in southwestern cities such as Phoenix, it’s not surprise that more built to rent houses are being built.
They are suburban communities for the most part. HOA management services firms in those cities will have some excellent opportunities in 2023.
What is Build to Rent, BFR or B2R?
“Build-to-rent, built for rent, BFR and B2R” are loose terms tossed around by investors looking into this exciting new real estate investment model, one that leverages the cheaper option of building from scratch, adding value via controlling the properties and being able to set the ideal rent price from the get go.
Managed well, built for rent properties could be very profitable.
The Right Features for Smart Investors
More builders and real estate investors believe built to rent properties have an outstanding ROI due to:
- excellent demographics including Millennials
- huge market due to low housing supply and fast rising rent price
- preference for work home raises demand for houses
- incoming migrating workers need rental housing
- cities such as Las Vegas and Phoenix have land to build these communities
- continued low financing costs
- managed communities with designer amenities renters want
While the multifamily sector was often built to rent projects too, the new focus is on single family dwellings which are in extreme demand.
From 2009 onward US property investors bought up distressed and foreclosed properties to create residential rental properties. Distressed and foreclosed properties comprised only 2% of the residential real estate market in 2019.
CNBC takes a closer look at the built to rent new construction market.
ERC is a leading build-to-rent (B2R) real estate development company wholesaling mini-neighborhoods of affordable single-family homes. They typically build developments of 20+ units, whereas other larger builders produce projects into the hundreds of units.
Renters Are Choosing to Rent Rather Than Buy
Builders are accommodating the renters, with a big increase in build-to-rent construction. The US rental market has become that it’s drawing away those individual buyers who would otherwise be buying. Renters from Florida to New York to California are desperate for rental accommodation and many will pay big rent prices for homes and townhouses.
Will this draw in more major investment firms and construction firms such as Toll Brothers because they’re suddenly seeing the trend?
The new build to rent product is considered safer and better performing. The fact it doesn’t have to renovated and can be designed to incorporate the latest amenities and features , i.e., technology, that renters demand is no small factor as well. It looks like heaven for property management solutions companies who see the value-added side.
“We are investing in the single-family build-to-rent sector,” Toll Brothers CEO Doug Yearly said in a second-quarter earnings call last week. “This is another business we believe has great potential.” — From magazine.realtor/ report.
Toll Brothers and Built to Rent
Big construction firms are getting into Built to Rent including Toll Brothers with their recently announced a $60 million investment in a joint venture with BB Living. They are working initially in Boise Idaho; Dallas Texas, Denver Colorado, Houston Texas, Jacksonville Florida, Las Vegas Nevada, and Phoenix Arizona. Another firm, ECR Hombuilders is offering a new IPO, to raise $100 million to build more than 1,000 rental homes in Florida.
Avilla Buffalo Run in Commerce City (Colorado) epitomizes the new build to rent model. Colorado multifamily development is good too, however there’s more land in pricey Colorado for this type of development. This development in Commerce City is a single-family community built from the ground up entirely for renters and not owners. Its managing director believes a low maintenance lifestyle is more appealing as people age and to baby boomers who would rather rent after selling their homes.
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Build to Rent Homes a Big Market
“According to National Multifamily Housing Council data, 15 million households, representing 35% of renting households, rent single-family homes rather than multi-unit apartments. Also, one of every four renters of properties newer than 1990 earn household incomes of $75,000 or more.” — from report on Hanleywood.com
NAR ran a report last January that pondered whether entire build to rent communities might be the real trend in the future. Nar believes builders will focus on low-cost markets such as Atlanta and Phoenix where there is also entry-level home building.
The NAR report spoke of two companies into build-to-rent initiatives. One is AHV Communities who developing 175 upscale single-family homes in SFR communities in Austin, Texas. They cited GTIS Partners, based in New York, is also shifting focus from 4200 homes it bought, to new homes.
Hunter Housing and Economics discusses the market in their webinar.
Build to Rent Sweeping the UK
Build to rent is hot in the UK as well. It’s reported that the total number of build-to-rent homes under construction across the UK has increased by nearly 40%. That’s 14,615 completed homes last year with 24,000 more estimated to be completed.
In London, Pension fund Public Sector Pension Investment Board and global real estate company QuadReal Property Group are combining to build a new development called Cherry Park. It will be one of London’s largest single-site schemes featuring 1,200 new homes with high end facilities, workspace and public areas within a build-to-rent model.
If multifamily housing development does falter due to weaker demand, it seems the single family build to rent market might grow quickly. These opportunities take time to take hold and be capitalized on. With big construction companies such as Toll Brothers getting excited about it, it’s hard to ignore.
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