The Changing Landscape of Single-Family Rental Homes


The Single-Family Rental (SFR) industry is growing fast, attracting families, millennials and baby boomers alike, who are drawn to the flexibility of renting. Our residents are America’s teachers, police officers and military families looking to rent homes in good neighborhoods with good schools.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS), the percentage of renters electing to live in a single-family home (both attached and detached) has consistently grown over the last several years, rising from roughly 31 percent in 2005 to approximately 35 percent in 2015.

While the SFR industry is not new, the professionalization of it now offers residents access to quality rental housing as rental demand grows. The Green Street Single-Family Rental Primer estimates 3.9 million new renter households between 2016 and 2020, which equals 1.5 million new units of single-family rental demand.

I turned to some of the smart, dynamic women in our ranks to get their take on our industry and the role we play within the housing landscape. They are enthused and passionate about their work and the future of the SFR industry.

Cynthia Pinter joined Colony American Homes, now Colony Starwood Homes, nearly five years ago when the SFR space was a relatively new concept. She was drawn to the excitement of being part of a start-up and a new industry. “It was exciting to be a part of a different way of doing things,” said Pinter. “We were creating jobs, renovating homes instead of letting them sit empty, and investing in communities.”

Alysia Cherry is in the financial planning division at Altisource and came from the commercial real estate industry. “This industry was very intriguing to me because it is so new,” said Cherry. She felt the time was right, and liked the prospect of moving into this industry. “Many of us now working in this sector have backgrounds in something else, but that fresh and diverse perspective from so many great minds is a huge benefit,” added Cherry.

As the SFR industry continues to grow, companies show growth and maturity, quarter after quarter, and they demonstrate the ability to operate long-term.

“We are recruiting high-caliber individuals because of our growth potential,” said Joanne Halliday, Senior Vice President – Counsel, American Homes 4 Rent. She sees, “a stabilization of the industry, and, most importantly, an industry that is providing affordable housing.”

Homes in this sector create opportunities for families, offering more space at a lower cost per sq. ft., access to high quality school districts and good neighborhoods, and added benefits that are important to families. “The SFR industry also provides an attractive option for a resident who might want a backyard and the feeling of being a part of a community,” added Pinter.

“Many people don’t want to take on the upfront costs of ownership and like the flexibility that is offered by renting,” said Cherry. “For those who cannot afford a mortgage, or whose situations make it less attractive to own, they can now choose to live in a property that gives them all the characteristics of home ownership in an affordable rental package.”

These women know that this industry is about the people. It’s about the individual and giving them their dream home; it’s about investing and building value in each of these communities.

“We are great homeowners with high standards for our residents. We keep homes occupied with people who want to live the single-family lifestyle,” said Tiffany Broberg, Associate General Counsel, Progress Residential. She explains that many of the residents are families in a single-family home for the first time. Broberg believes that her experience having a young family translates well when it comes to solving residents’ problems.

“We are focused on enhancing the lives of our residents,” explained Jiggs Foster, SVP, Marketing, Invitation Homes. “We know our residents are looking for the leasing lifestyle, and we are committed to working with them to make their house a home.”

Halliday knows that another benefit of this sector is that it offers recognizable landlords, and centralized maintenance and support, “it gives consumers a platform to voice their needs and/or concerns, which, as a consumer, is a tremendous asset.”

Indeed, consumers are also benefiting from the vast technologies being utilized by the SFR industry. Smart Home technology is improving rapidly and allows prospective renters to tour homes on their own time, without an agent being present. Residents also have access to Smart Home options such as remotely controlling heat, air conditioning and home security.

Invitation Homes is effectively using technology to deliver services and attract residents. Through their ProCare Program, they offer residents proactive maintenance visits and 24/7 emergency service. “It starts when the residents move in,” noted Foster.

Technology has also helped the SFR companies respond to residents’ needs such as home repairs and community safety, in faster, more efficient ways.

“Technology is a huge trend for us,” said Cherry. “We get to rethink technology and its role in building out this newly institutionalized business.” Cherry sees that the industry has an opportunity to build a fresh technological infrastructure that will not only optimize operations but also help it improve the asset management side of the business.

Single-family rentals are another part of the housing continuum. For many renters, we are a great stepping-stone on the way to homeownership; for others, we offer the flexibility and security of a well-managed rental home. Most importantly, we offer all residents the four “S’s” – safety, schools, services and space.

Diane Tomb
Executive Director, National
Rental Home Council

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