PORT ST LUCIE, Fla. — As the housing crisis continues in South Florida and the Treasure Coast, build-to-rent homes may be the new solution for families who can't afford interest rates and a down payment.
Build-to-rent homes are not entirely new: for years renting a home instead of buying has been an option.
However, now, entire communities of rental homes, built similarly to apartment complexes, are popping up across the country. Construction of new build-to-rent homes hit a record in 2022, with more than 14,500 houses completed.
According to RentCafe, construction of new build-to-rent homes hit a record in 2022, with more than 14,500 houses completed. Since then, RentCafe data shows 44,700 build-to-rent houses are under construction, which is triple the number of new homes completed in 2022.
A Wednesday morning ribbon-cutting ceremony officially opened a new build-to-rent development, called The Cottages, in Port St. Lucie's Tradition neighborhood.
"We started building these communities across the country," Davis Maxwell, vice president of Capstone Communities, the company behind The Cottages, said.
Maxwell said Capstone Communities pivoted to the build-to-rent model to give families more options as housing prices soar and down payments are hard to pay out-of-pocket.
"Especially with these interest rates being as high as they are, it's a nice alternative," Maxwell said.
Maxwell said The Cottages is already 30% full and the community just opened.
Port St. Lucie Police Assistant Chief Leo Niemczyk said it's a sign of growth that he's seen specifically in the Tradition area of the city.
"I've seen the city more than double in size," Niemczyk said. "It's difficult to recognize."
Niemcyzk said Tradition's population is now about 40,000 people, more than double the size of the city of Stuart, and the police department has had to adjust.
"We've expanded our patrol district to District 5," Niemczyk said. "It details 24 new police officers and six new police supervisors."
Jenn Newman just moved into The Cottages and said as a Port St. Lucie native, she's seen the growth firsthand.
"Where we're walking right now, I used to ride my four-wheeler and dirt bike," Newman said.
She recently moved back to Port St Lucie from North Carolina and didn't want to buy a home because of the high prices.
"We're going to wait for those numbers to drop like they always do," Newman said.
Still, Newman said she didn't want to move into an apartment and is thankful to have the space of a house.
"It's not just some condo that you see popping up everywhere," Newman said.
While not everyone's in favor of the development, Newman sees it as progress and an opportunity for her to have a home that's affordable.