MReport March 2020

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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24 | M R EP O RT FEATURE T o give you a sense of how big the single-family rental (SFR) housing market is in 2020, it cur- rently makes up 63% of the rental housing stock. Since 2006, more than seven million single-family rentals have been added to the market, compared to the three million properties with 10 units or more. In terms of opportunity for entrepreneurs, 99% of the SFR market is dominated by non- institutional investors, according to a November 2016 white paper by Amherst Capital. One reason the SFR market is booming today is because of our country's ongoing student loan crisis. A study by Apartment List surveyed 6,400 Millennial renters across the nation, and even though nearly 50% of them said they wanted to buy a home, they reported having almost no savings for the necessary down payment. According to a CNBC report, "Student loan debt in the U.S. has increased by 170% over the past decade," with almost 20% of Millennials needing financial assistance to even consider home- ownership. As a result, the majority of the next generation of "homeowners" aren't actually looking to own. They're looking to rent. With so much opportunity to service this new class of rent- ers who want to move out of apartment complexes and into single-family homes, I want you to think about real estate as an entrepreneur. I want you to consider the ways you can build an SFR business that keeps ten- ants happier, staying longer and devoted to living in properties you own—because you give them the best customer service. Here are four entrepreneur- ial strategies you can use to get started. 01 Put Yourself in the Shoes of the Customer T here are two types of people who get into real estate. There are those who see real estate as a great way to diversify their capi- tal, and look for deals that involve little else besides writing a check. Sometimes, this means putting capital into real estate exchange- traded funds (ETFs) or real estate investment trusts (REITs). Other times, investors will pool their money together to buy a complex with 16 units (or, if they have the means, buy the building outright themselves). And then there are the entre- preneurs. Before I started my current com- pany, LendingOne, I built Wilmar, one of the largest distributors of plumbing, hardware, electrical, and maintenance products to the multi-family housing industry. I created a multi-end market holding company, Interline Brands, to add to Wilmar's end-market oppor- tunities. Interline Brands is now owned by Home Depot. Like most entrepreneurs, I took what I had learned build- ing Interline and applied it to all of my future businesses. One of those businesses was Crestar Homes, acquiring and renting homes that I primarily acquired through tax lien auctions. It was a real estate business—but unlike most real estate investors, I was extremely hands on. Running a single-family rental business should be viewed like any other business. Your renters are your customers, and your customers deserve special atten- tion. To you, this might just be a property in your real estate portfolio, but to the customer, this is their home—so, make them feel like it. Put yourself in their shoes. What would you want waiting for you when you first walked into the house? What sort of ap- pliances should the kitchen have so they feel proud to have people over for dinner? Instead of just having the renter pick up their keys from the office, why not prepare a welcome pack- age for them, including materials on great nearby restaurants, a number to call for on-demand maintenance, and other little things like that. These small gestures made a difference. It helps tenants feel less like they are moving into a temporary place. Instead, they feel like they are right at home. 02 Provide Better Service and Tenants Will Want to Stay Longer O ne of the biggest challenges in the SFR business is how long it takes to rent a property. Your property economics could look great on paper, but if your vacancy rate is too high, it's im- possible to be profitable. For professionally run proper- ties, 30-60 days to rent a home is about standard. But for entrepre- neurs who own a property or two and are just getting started, it can take twice as long. In any other type of business, the solu- Standing Out From the Crowd The single-family rental market is booming. Here are four strategies investors can utilize to ensure your portfolio of properties gets the attention it deserves. By Bill Green

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