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Houston Rental Market Blooms as Home Buying Lags

Developers ramping up investments in built-to-rent.

Greater Houston’s single-family rental market is in bloom.

It experienced a 5 percent uptick year-over-year in March, with about 3,990 leases signed, according to the Houston Association of Realtors. New listings saw a 9 percent uptick. 

Average single-family rents grew by about 5 percent to $2,260. Meanwhile, days on market for rentals steadied at 38. Townhome leases climbed 4 percent year-over-year, and new listings surged 21 percent.

On the flip side, home buying is lethargic. March marked a significant downturn, with single-family home sales plummeting by 7.5 percent year-over-year. Active listings increased 26 percent, but that didn’t translate to increased sales, indicating buyers are tentative despite increased inventory.

Rentals have been an attractive alternative for Houstonians hesitant to accept high interest rates that have rocked the homebuying market.

In response to the burgeoning rental market, developers are ramping up their investments in built-to-rent communities. 

The Howard Hughes Corporation opened its first build-to-rent community in Bridgeland last year, with the 27-acre, gated Wingspan community off Bridgeland Creek Parkway and Peek Road. Clay Residential, a branch of Clay Development & Construction, initiated its second built-to-rent project in the Houston area last year. Its Marvida master-planned community in Cypress is slated for 368 rental homes. 

Illinois apartment developer Marquette Companies began construction earlier this year on the Sylvan, a 300-unit community planned with 188 single-family homes and townhome rentals near The Woodlands. 

Greater Houston has seen nearly 2,000 built-to-rent single-family homes completed in the last five years, making it one of the top cities for such developments, according to RentCafe. The metro has 5,430 build-to-rent units under construction with an additional 1,650 planned, according to construction data firm Zonda Home. 

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