Shared from the 5/26/2023 Houston Chronicle eEdition

Build-to-rent neighborhoods expand across Houston suburbs

Clay Residential

Clay Residential is building homes for rent in Willow at Marvida in Cypress.


Katherine Feser


McLain Homes

Amenities at the Cottages at Buckshot Landing include a pool and clubhouse. The development is planned for 129 rental homes on Buckshot Lane off FM 1488 in Magnolia.


Rents at the Cottages at Buckshot Landing, a development of McLain Homes on Buckshot Lane off FM 1488 in Magnolia, start at $2,050 a month.

More build-to-rent neighborhoods are taking shape in the Houston area, providing new options for renters who want a suburban lifestyle without the mortgage or maintenance of homeownership.

We’ve written about Wingspan in Bridgeland, Balcara at Meridiana and the Villas at Sunterra. Now, in Cypress, Clay Residential has started construction on a rental community planned for 368 homes within the Marvida master planned community. It is the second build-to-rent project for the company, an affiliate of industrial development powerhouse Clay Development & Construction following the launch of Willow at Sierra Vista in Iowa Colony south of Houston last year. The first homes will be available in late July.

McLain Homes, a newcomer to Texas based in Lafayette, La., opened The Cottages at Buckshot Landing, a gated community on 18 acres planned for 129 homes off FM 1488 at Buckshot Lane in Magnolia, just west of The Woodlands. Next up, The Buckshot at Magnolia on 15 acres near FM 149 and FM 1488 will feature duplexes.

The developments come as single-family rentals have gained traction among investors as home prices have outpaced wage growth, putting ownership out of reach for many. In Houston, the median single-family home price grew by 42 percent over the past five years, to $334,000 in the first quarter, according to research firm Moody’s Analytics.

The median household income in Houston, meanwhile, grew by 14 percent during the period. Higher mortgage rates, which doubled from last year to about 6.5 percent, are another obstacle for buyers.

“The headwinds for the single-family purchase market are the tailwinds of the single-family rental market,” said Ermengarde Jabir, senior economist at Moody’s Analytics, adding that as people get older and start families, they often look to the suburbs for a better quality of life and certain schools.

“If they’re facing affordability issues purchasing their own home, the alternative for that portion of the population becomes a single-family rental,” Jabir said.

Mickey Pizzitola, principal of Clay Residential, says the rents at Willow at Marvida, ranging from $2,500 to $3,500, are currently below what it would cost to buy a comparable home.

Homes ranging from 1,382 to 2,900 square feet with three to five bedrooms and two-car garages, bring a rental option to Marvida, a Land Tejas community northeast of the Grand Parkway and FM 529 in the Cypress-Fairbanks ISD. Near the amenity center with a lazy river, pools, sports courts, parks and a clubhouse, the rental homes consist of 134 detached homes and 234 attached villas slated for build-out in 2026.

Testing the waters

Clay is testing five-bedroom homes that would appeal to families who have children in school or coming back home to live with them, and “if the market responds, we’ll build more,” Pizzitola said.

In Magnolia, property manager Michelle Cigler said that in addition to young families, The Cottages at Buckshot Landing is getting interest from older residents who are downsizing.

“They want to free up their time with less house to maintain,” Cigler said. “That’s very new for us.”

Rents at The Cottages at Buckshot Landing range from $2,050 for a two-bedroom home to $2,500 for the largest three-bedroom plan. The cottages have covered carports and include all maintenance, from light bulbs to lawn care to valet door-to-door trash pick up, Cigler said.

Amenities include a pool, fire pit, outdoor lounge areas and games, a walking trail and dog park.

Beach niche

A real estate company focused on lake homes is getting into a new niche designed to make shopping for properties near the beach easier.

Beach Homes Realty, a sister company to Hoover, Ala.-based Lake Homes Realty, unveiled its new website for coastal property searches in 14 is designed to facilitate searching, buying or selling beach homes or lots with 68,000 current listings.

Texas is second only to Florida for properties on the market, with nearly 7,500 listings in 41 beach communities, according to Beach Homes Realty. Florida has 41,600 listings in 185 communities. The company accesses Multiple Listing Services data to provide the listings.

“From coastal lots in quiet beach communities to spectacular multimillion dollar estates in Miami, has something for anyone who has dreamed of living the beach life,” CEO Glenn S. Phillips said in an announcement.

Also led by Phillips, Lake Homes Realty claims to be the nation’s largest lake-focused real estate with property listings on more than 6,600 lakes across 34 states at .

Fort Bend signs partner

The Fort Bend County Epicenter, an upcoming multipurpose sports and entertainment facility in Rosenberg, announced its first “founding partner” agreement with Energy Texas. The five-year agreement will make the Houston-based electricity provider the venue’s “Official Energy Provider” and provide other marketing benefits such as signage in the arena and marketing messages on the marquis sign. Energy Texas was founded in 2022.

Sugar Land-based Stonehenge Holdings is developing the 230,000-square-foot Epicenter at 28505 Southwest Freeway at Fairgrounds Road in partnership with Fort Bend County.

With capacity for 10,000, the Epicenter will host multicourt basketball and volleyball tournaments, concerts, family entertainment and livestock shows. Opening is planned at the end of August.

The Epicenter is looking for other founding partnerships in categories such as hospital/ health care, grocery and banking, according to general manager Toby Wyman.

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