In 2017, 37,000 homes were built as rentals, according to the National Association of Home Builders. That grew to 43,000 last year, or just under 5% of total single-family housing starts. But that is just homes built and held by builders for rent and doesn't include those sold directly to investors, so the numbers are likely larger and growing more quickly.
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"It's viewed as an ancillary income stream. We see this as more and more renters may prefer to raise a family or live in a single-family home versus an apartment complex or community or building. And so it is part of our Apartment Living group," Toll Brothers CEO Douglas Yearley said on the company's second quarter earnings conference call last month.
The only operating expense for landlords is the landscaping. In addition, the rents for single family are growing fast at 4.5% annually now compared with 3% rent growth for multifamily apartments, according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting. There is also much less turnover in single-family rentals, and the rental market is much less volatile than the home sales market.
"We recently entered an agreement with one of our long-standing third-party relationships to build homes that will be purchased by that third-party in a stand-alone rental community," Lennar President Rick Beckwitt said on the company's earnings call. "This community is in Florida and is the first in what we believe will be an ongoing business strategy and relationship where we build and sell homes in bulk on land owned by third parties with no lease-up risk."

The only operating expense for landlords is the landscaping. In addition, the rents for single family are growing fast at 4.5% annually now compared with 3% rent growth for multifamily apartments, according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting. There is also much less turnover in single-family rentals, and the rental market is much less volatile than the home sales market.
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