Courtesy Zonda

Four years ago, 72% of the population thought it was a good time to buy a house. Today, according to Zonda principal Mollie Carmichael, only 25% feel that way, signaling many would-be buyers are looking to rent.

“That’s a huge opportunity,” she states during one of her panels at the recent Zonda Build-to-Rent conference. “You’re definitely in the right room for build-to-rent (BTR).”

In the Demographics, Demand Drivers, and Design Evolution session, Carmichael was joined on stage by two residential architects, Garrett Hoskins, principal at Robert Hidey Architects, and Mike Cantrell, senior principal at WHA Architects Planners Designers, to discuss how demographic shifts and burgeoning demand in the sector have impacted the design of BTR homes and communities.

“There’s so many different styles they want,” says Carmichael. “There’s so many things that they’re looking at.”

To help narrow down the options, Hoskins and Cantrell presented some of their recent BTR home designs—alongside Carmichael’s demographic data—and shared the following tips for creating BTR communities that renters will love.

Add timeless qualities: Although people have been trending more modern, Hoskins says to make the homes timeless. “We can put more design emphasis in a house if we're willing to use scissor trusses to pop out the roof. So it looks like it's been built over time,” he says. “It’s rich quality detailing with simple architecture and it creates something where people love to live there.”

Create front porch living: Both architects emphasized how front porches engage the street. “We have a big focus on front porch living and bringing residents out to the front of their houses,” states Hoskins. “It creates community by engaging with all the dog walkers etc. In a way, it creates this fantastic place to live.”

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