From the NYT:
The lawns are manicured. The swimming pools sparkle in the sun. And the homes, all of them turnkey and smelling of fresh paint, are lined up in tidy rows, an army of cookie-cutter porches standing at attention.
Covid-19 inflamed the real estate market, pushed Americans toward the suburbs and changed our relationship with where we live, work and play. It also accelerated interest in built-to-rent housing, which even before the pandemic was expanding at a breakneck pace.
The number of built-to-rent homes — single-family homes constructed expressly for the purpose of renting — increased 30 percent from 2019 to 2020. Today, they make up about 6 percent of all new homes being built in the United States, and that number is poised to double in the next 10 years. This is the fastest-growing sector of the American housing market, and it is increasingly master-planned and built on tracts. On the fringes of America’s second-tier cities, entire villages owned by large-scale investors are popping up, offering renters who either can’t or don’t want to spring for a down payment another path to the American dream.
Two months ago, Brian and Amanda Voorhees moved with their two children to 360 Communities at Shearwater, a community of 127 two-, three- and four-bedroom townhouses and single-family homes about 40 minutes from Jacksonville, Fla. They left New Jersey after selling their 3,600-square-foot home there at the top of the market, and they weren’t ready to jump into a new investment.
“We really wanted to have the flexibility to enjoy life versus having to worry about repairing the roof or cutting the grass rather than heading to the beach,” said Mr. Voorhees, a vice president of underwriting for an insurance broker. “We didn’t want to have to worry about all the potential pitfalls of homeownership.”
They rent their new home, a four-bedroom townhouse, for $2,600 a month. Mr. Voorhees, 33, now works from home, and Ms. Voorhees, 36, stays at home with Braden, 7, and Abigail, 4, taking the children for bike rides along the community’s trails and spending hours with them at the community pool.