Why We’re Betting Big On Build-For-Rent

May 5, 2022

From the Desk of the COO

We recently announced the groundbreaking at our newest development in Ocala, Florida, a 71-acre residential site called West Shire Village. My father Bob, the founder of our company, has always talked about how special the moment is, waxing poetic about the smell of fresh dirt and the promise of all the great things to come. The notion of creating something from nothing has always inspired him, likening it to a farmer planting a seed and watching it grow. In many ways it’s his own personal version of the American dream.

While I operate more on the analytical side, the analogy is quite apt, especially for West Shire Village. We’ve broken ground on many projects over the years, and each one holds a distinct significance both personally and professionally, but this one felt different. This particular undertaking represents one of the biggest investments in the history of our company. It signifies the beginning of a large-scale expansion in our residential operations both in form and function. Namely, our foray into Build-For-Rent development.

Beyond that, this new venture underscores a much larger nationwide shift in how people are approaching their relationship with renting versus home owning and how Build-For-Rent can, in many ways, offer the perfect option during these transitional times. Additionally, it highlights just how critical it has become for developers to stay in touch with the market they serve. Keeping a pulse on the community is more important than ever.

With housing prices reaching historic highs across the country, people from every demographic are searching to find solid alternatives to home buying. Whether it has become too expensive to own, as is the case in the majority of coastal cities, or simply too difficult to find a suitable place from existing housing stock, the real estate market is calling out for a correction. Necessity is the mother of invention, and with so many people stuck between a rock and a hard place, something had to give.

The current constraints of supply and demand, amongst other things like financing, supply chain, and talent acquisition, have driven real estate developers to seek out new models to serve their clientele. The concept of Build-For-Rent has emerged in a big way. We’re seeing this new style pop up in cities across the country. Builders are constructing beautiful, sprawling rental properties that are nearly indistinguishable from the classic American neighborhood filled with for-sale homes. The main difference, however, accessibility.

Young professionals fresh out of school are very hard pressed to have the capital to go straight to home buying, especially with so many saddled down by student loan debt. At the same time, however, they are still eager to fully enter adulthood and capitalize on all the hard work and money they’ve put forward to get to this point. While we have seen a historic influx of young professionals into urban centers, price constraints on rentals have presented a real problem and that will only intensify over time. Build-For-Rent offers the best of both worlds. They can get the neighborhood and community vibe they would find in a traditional for-sale setting without the massive price tag … accessibility. Not to mention, the host of amenities BFR offers would often exceed what they might find in a traditional rental setting, particularly in a city center.

On the other side of the coin, we’re seeing empty-nesters and retirees who are looking to find something more low maintenance without having to sacrifice on things like location and community. Build-For-Rent once again delivers a strong case for choosing to rent over own. Eliminating financial responsibilities for everything from property taxes to interior/exterior maintenance is an incredibly enticing option, especially for older renters. Accessibility without all the responsibility. Not to mention, with the state of the current investment market, money saved on cost of owning can often be invested at higher return rates than what homeownership can provide.

As it was hundreds of years ago, people are still searching for a way to live a happy, fulfilled life. Much like my dad and myself, they’re out searching for their own personalized version of the American dream. The dream of owning a home may no longer be at the top of that list for many people, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still place the highest priority behind where they lay their head at night. Having a comfortable, safe space to call home is hardwired into our existence, and we are intent on helping offer a new, more accessible version of that space. So, when we break ground on the next development and the one after that, we know we’re building more than just a roof and four walls. We’re building a space for people of all walks of life to call home as they pursue their own dreams, the new American dream.


Ezra Stark
Chief Operating Officer