National Association of Home Builders chief economist Rob Dietz--who's drilling into the detail of the latest Census Bureau Quarterly Starts and Completions by Purpose and Design--notes that single-family for-rent doesn't clock in as the next big thing in home building.
Anecdotally, we're starting to hear more about the viability of for-rent single family homes as an asset class, and to an increasing extent a consumer-driven "weigh station" between apartment living and homeownership. It makes sense that households who are caught between rent trends and homeownership's hurdles may be drawn by the opportunity to live in new-home detached-house neighborhoods like homeowners, but without the high barriers to entry.
Still, as Dietz notes, single-family new-home builders aren't finding a major new vein of business in building such communities, although a few are trying it out. Dietz clarifies that this data counts homes built by owners and held specifically for rent purposes (not ones built and sold to others, who may put them up for rent):
Given the small size of the market segment, the quarter-to-quarter movements are typically not statistically significant. The current market share remains higher than the historical average of 2.8% but is down from the 5.8% registered at the start of 2013.
For the year as a whole, single-family built-for-rent starts totaled 26,000 units in 2015 compared to 25,000 in 2014.