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.

The only operating expense for landlords is the landscaping. In addition, the rents for single family are growing fast at 4.5% annually now compared with 3% rent growth for multifamily apartments, according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting. There is also much less turnover in single-family rentals, and the rental market is much less volatile than the home sales market.

"It's viewed as an ancillary income stream. We see this as more and more renters may prefer to raise a family or live in a single-family home versus an apartment complex or community or building. And so it is part of our Apartment Living group," Toll Brothers CEO Douglas Yearley said on the company's second quarter earnings conference call last month.

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