HOUSTON - Sky-high prices and rising mortgage rates are pricing more would-be home buyers out of a dream-home, and more people are turning to the rental market for relief while finding whole neighborhoods with a welcome sign.
The Houston Association of Realtors says single-family home rentals in Houston rose nearly 25% in the last year. Renters can find it to be a more affordable way to get into a house as developers are finding it's a lucrative way to build.
When Heather Weaver-Wehner moved her family out of an apartment and into a new home in Katy two years ago, the rental was much bigger than she was used to.
"It was also a breath of fresh air," she says.
The entire neighborhood, just off Morten Road, was built for single-family rentals. From the outside, it looks like any other community. Among neighbors, it feels that way, too.
"Here, we're all renters," says Weaver-Wehner. "You're not judged on whether you're able to buy a house, or not. You're judged as a person."
Those choosing to rent saying it's hard to beat the finances over a traditional apartment.
"Four bedrooms, three boys, they all have their own rooms," says neighbor Laurie Rivesman, "We can all spread out and not be on top of each other."
Commercial mortgage broker Jake Clopton says growing rental rates are driving investors and developers to lean heavily of single-family rentals, "When investors see that type of rent growth, it's very attractive."
In Houston, there are several such projects in the works, including one with nearly 300 homes planned in the Bridgeland development in Cypress.
Clopton thinks high home prices and rising mortgage rates will push more regular buyers out of the market, in favor of deep-pockets that are ready to buy or build.
"They don't have to finance stuff," he says. "They can pay in cash, and the next day, it's on the rental market."
For Heather Weaver-Wehner, it's an arrangement that works for now,
"For us, it was always a 'bridge' until we felt we were financially ready to buy a house."
While buying a home remains a challenge, for some, the number of 'build-to-rent' projects is likely to grow and provide the sense of ownership without the responsibility and cost that goes with it.