by Christy Heitger-Ewing

Years ago, Reebok ran an ad: “Life is short. Play hard.” It’s pretty sound advice, actually, and with so many work, school, and social demands, increasingly, people are looking for ways to make their lives a bit simpler. One way to do that is by seeking a maintenance-free lifestyle, and that can be found by renting rather than owning property.

Nevertheless, apartment dwelling gets old due to lack of privacy. Plus, as a family grows, they require more space, which makes homes appealing. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that demand for BFR rentals is increasing. According to John Burns Research & Consulting, builders put up 68,000 new single-family rental homes last year, up 31% from the year before.

These potential homebuyers are renting both out of necessity when mortgage rates are too steep and out of choice because by renting they don’t have to worry about paying taxes on the home. Plus, if something breaks, it’s up to the landlord to fix it.

“The recent surge in build-for-rent product around the country has provided many families an opportunity to live in a single-family home without the need to own a home,” says Mark Gradison, owner of Gradison Land Development.

BFR homes are different than just leasing a home in a random neighborhood. They are clustered together to form a community. Many of these BFR communities even offer amenities similar to apartments such as pools, fitness facilities, dog parks, and yards (green space).

Christian Rector, Division President of Arbor Homes, maintains that we have a shortage of housing at all price points, but it’s most apparent in the lack of supply for first-time buyers.

“Ultimately, I believe we all want to see more people own homes,” says Rector. “But the Single-family for Rent product helps create additional supply for those that cannot or do not want to purchase a home while also providing twice the revenue in property taxes.”

The Northmarq report notes that while the economic interest for BFR projects declined throughout 2022, “the short- and medium-term outlooks for single-family build-to-rent properties have remained attractive.”

This is because single-family housing prices are out of reach for millennials, who don’t want sky-high mortgages yet still want a house; BTR fits the bill.

“Some people need to move as their lives change or take them to new cities. Others are looking for more affordable alternatives to apartment living,” says Gradison. “BTR fits a space in the marketplace for people that do not desire home ownership.”

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