"I think that these funds, these investor groups are looking at a cultural move away from your garden apartment with elevators, swimming pools, tennis courts and common areas," Ellenburg said. "Homeownership is looking less desirable to some, particularly in the affordable arena, and they have a chance, for very close to the same price, to rent a three-bedroom, two-bath or a four-bedroom, three-bath home and are able to call it their own."
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This week a small Tampa, Florida-based builder, ERC Homebuilders, is launching a "soft" IPO, hoping to raise $100 million to build more than 1,000 rental homes across the state. It is offering investors private shares using Regulation A+, a form of investment crowdfunding that allows small companies to raise limited funds from the general public. Accredited and nonaccredited investors can participate.