Through most of my professional career, I have considered myself a big picture designer. I never really dove into the weeds of design, but instead focused on the overall vision and concept of a project. That is, until we hit the great recession from 2007-2009. Coming out of the recession, infill developments were first to the market. Of these infill projects came a new product: the Nexmetro model of a single family built for rent (SFBR). This new product inspired me to come out of the clouds at 35,000 feet and dive into the details of design and landscape architecture. Now, as we face another economic shift and potential change in attitude towards housing, I believe single family for rent may be poised for even greater popularity.
This housing product goes by several different names: single family for rent, garden style single family for rent, tiny homes for rent, and bungalows, to name a few. The design of the SFBR product combines the space and privacy of owning your own home with the low-risk and low-maintenance lifestyle of apartment living. While it was first intended to provide new housing options for those coming out of the recession, SFBR ended up reaching and appealing to so many more. Now, the demographics vary from empty nesters downsizing and wanting a “lock and leave” situation, to young professionals not quite ready to buy a home but also wanting a way out of cramped apartment living, as well as single parents looking for a low-maintenance community environment where the kids can stretch their legs. Over the past decade, SFBR has become less of a price sensitive market and more a conscious lifestyle decision. However, as we enter a period of economic instability brought on by the current health crisis, this housing product may strike a new appeal with those looking to avoid down payments and mortgages while still enjoying the benefits of a private residence and a community environment.
As a landscape architect, I believe that we can change the way people live and socialize for the better. I believe that we can inspire a sense of community, one that people take pride in and ownership of. This is exactly what this product has done by not only changing the way we look at rental communities and renter profiles, but also shaping a new way for people to live their daily lives. These communities require thoughtful planning and design on a micro level to achieve target densities while also creating safe, comfortable, and desirable places for people to call home. Creating design diversity in the community environment and designing amenities that appeal to the lifestyle demographic are additional ways in which we bring value to these projects. Stay tuned over the coming weeks as we dive into more detail on how SFBR continues to evolve, and the ingredients that make these communities successful.