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BUILD-TO-RENT: Babcock Ranch introduces a housing solution amid peak prices

As home prices and interest rates have stayed high, leaders at Babcock Ranch say Build-to-Rent communities are getting more popular
Posted at 1:07 PM, Jan 30, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-30 13:07:14-05

BABCOCK RANCH, Fla. — As home prices and interest rates have stayed high, leaders at Babcock Ranch says “Build-to-Rent” communities are getting more popular. The Flatwoods, Babcock Ranch’s first single-family home rental neighborhood, aims to provide a more affordable home ownership solution.

The sights and sounds of construction are a common backdrop as homes are quickly going up for families, like Andrea Schmitz’s, who are choosing to settle there.

"We had sold our house in Iowa and just decided to become renters for a bit until we got a lay of the land since we've never lived in Florida," said Schmitz, a resident at Flatwoods. She says her family moved into their new home in November, becoming the community's first renters. With her husband employed at Babcock Schools, Schmitz says her family benefited from Babcock Ranch's workforce opportunities, which offer a discount on rent.

"My husband can work here, and it's more of an affordable option for us. So, we were beyond excited to be able to do this," she says.

The prospect of a permanent stay in the neighborhood is already on their minds, with Andrea adding, "There's so many houses being built and there are so many options - we definitely see ourselves buying in the future."

Syd Kitson, the founder of Babcock Ranch, envisions the community serving a diverse demographic. "What we hope to do is cater to not only families and empty nesters but even our teachers and first responders and others who might want to live at Babcock Ranch," Kitson explains. He says this build-to-rent model offers a "try before you buy" experience, allowing residents to live without the immediate financial burden of a downpayment.

In addition to the Flatwoods, Babcock Ranch is also finishing construction on 'The Canopy' - a rental condo complex. Kitson highlights the inclusive nature of these developments: "It does give people the ability, to some degree, to live in a place they otherwise may not have been able to."

With 25 units in the Flatwoods currently available and more to be rolled out in the coming months, Kitson anticipates the development to be complete by fall. "We're very excited about having Flatwoods finally open up here, and it will be the first of, I think, many!" Kitson says.

As the community grows, residents like Andrea Schmitz look forward to the future. "It’s exciting to see the growth," she remarks.