This week a small Tampa, Florida-based builder, ERC Homebuilders, is launching a "soft" IPO, hoping to raise $100 million to build more than 1,000 rental homes across the state. It is offering investors private shares using Regulation A+, a form of investment crowdfunding that allows small companies to raise limited funds from the general public. Accredited and nonaccredited investors can participate.
"We recently entered an agreement with one of our long-standing third-party relationships to build homes that will be purchased by that third-party in a stand-alone rental community," Lennar President Rick Beckwitt said on the company's earnings call. "This community is in Florida and is the first in what we believe will be an ongoing business strategy and relationship where we build and sell homes in bulk on land owned by third parties with no lease-up risk."
Foreclosures, however, are now few and far between. Distressed properties — foreclosures and short sales ) — make up just 2% of home sales today, down from a high of 49% in March 2009, according to the National Association of Realtors. The regular existing home market is very pricey, so investors are now turning to a new strategy: Buy new. And suddenly, the so-called build-to-rent market is exploding.