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It was a very happy Valentine’s Day in February 2020 when Quinn Residences closed on its first project, a 93-home community in Raleigh, North Carolina. The company had big plans for the townhome community, including a shift from the for-sale community it had been to something that was still emerging as a distinct industry in early 2020: a purpose-built community of single-family homes for rent. The community consisted of 13 completed homes and room for another 80, so things were going to take off fast. It was an exciting time, recalled Quinn’s chief executive officer, Richard Ross.

“We felt (and still believe today) there is a really big opportunity to build a best-in-class operating platform that gives people a truly institutional experience that just makes living easier, safer, and more accessible for people,” Ross said. “At that time, no one had really done a great job of utilizing technology and the advantages of the institutional experience for a community consisting entirely of rentals.”

It turned out even in the middle of a pandemic, we were offering exactly what people wanted and needed

Richard RossChief Operating Officer

The fledgling company dove into the project, but just one month later, a global pandemic changed everything. Of course, said Ross, that community and the ones that came after ended up being just what residents wanted and needed as lockdowns began and an increasing portion of the population realized they needed more living space and fewer “shared walls” in the era of COVID-19.
“Starting a new business is always a little uncertain, but we knew we had a very solid business plan,” Ross said. “It turned out even in the middle of a pandemic, we were offering exactly what people wanted and needed: a place of their own where they could find quality, opportunity, community, and a high level of service.”

From that point on, Quinn Residences has not slowed down. Just four years later, the company boasts 38 communities comprised of more than 5,000 homes spread throughout the southeast from Florida to North Carolina and in various stages of development. At present, fully 1,900 homes are completed and operating across 17 communities.

Recently, Quinn’s first community, Houndswood Village, was featured on Market Place Morning Report in July 2023, showcasing the fact that it is dedicated to families that love their pets. Every home offers amenities tailored to the needs of a loving pet owner, including phone-controlled locks that let dog walkers inside without permitting access to the rest of the house, scratch-resistant wooden floors, and even a special “dog cubby” under the stairwell with room for a dog bed, water bowl, and a little bit of canine décor. Of course, the community also offers a dog park, dog-washing station/pet spa, and plenty of neighbors with furry friends.

“Houndswood, like all of our communities, is modern, energy-efficient, and offers homes with a two-car garage, private backyard, and office work area,” observed Colleen Yeager, chief operating officer at Quinn. Although Houndswood is the only Quinn Residences community with such a distinctly “furry friends” theme, all Quinn communities are designed with community, eco-friendliness, and high-caliber service in mind, she added, noting, “Most of our communities have or will have a dog park, playground, and greenspace, [while] larger communities will provide a swimming pool and clubhouse facilities.”

“Our homes are brand-new, offer smart-home technology, and are designed to offer residents a no-maintenance lifestyle with outstanding customer service,” said Ross. He continued, “A large portion of the renting population today is renting by choice rather than necessity, and that means offering flexibility and low- or no-maintenance options is a huge driver in this business.” Quinn offers app-based service and maintenance request options as well as lawn maintenance.

“We want to build not just homes, but actual communities that enrich people’s lives,” said James Howley, chief investment officer at Quinn. “People are raising families and making cherished memories in our communities, and they are doing it while paying reasonable rates on places they can be proud to call home.”

A Permanent Shift for the Better

Historically, renting in the United States has been viewed solely as a steppingstone to homeownership. As recently as 1981, academics like Allan Heskin, professor emeritus in the University of California Los Angeles Department of Urban Planning, were publishing research stating unequivocally, “Being a tenant has never been part of the ‘American Dream’” and “Tenant’s immediate interests seem to lie in opposition to those with property” (International Journal of Urban & Regional Research, July 1981). Just four decades later, however, Quinn Residences leadership finds this verbiage no longer describes the majority of the renting population.

“The preference for renting is going to be permanent [for this generation],” stated Ross. “From what we have learned since our inception in 2020, a third of our residents will eventually move out and buy a home when they are able.”
He went on to say these residents are able to save money for that down payment in part because Quinn communities tend to be between 40% and 50% less expensive than owning a comparable property in the same area of the country and the company also diligently reports “positive credit,” meaning rent payments made on time. This helps residents improve credit scores over time. For this group, renting from Quinn Residences is a solid step on the path to homeownership.

However, the remaining two-thirds of Quinn’s renting population are what Ross refers to as “renters-by-choice.” They are not on a path to homeownership because they do not choose to be, but they are choosey about where they rent. Ross explained, “These people want the flexibility of renting, the bells and whistles that come with brand-new homes, the no-maintenance lifestyle, the eco-friendliness, and the community that is created when people are not moving out every year but staying for extended periods of time. The American Dream is changing for a substantial percentage of the population, and it is not necessarily buying a house, living in it for 30 years, and then cashing out anymore.”

Yeager noted Quinn’s communities are designed to foster the elements of the traditional “American Dream” that are most appealing to residents while also providing the best aspects of a rental lifestyle. “We have larger three- and four-bedroom homes that allow families to grow, first-floor bedrooms to provide space for aging parents, and lenient policies around making the house a home,” she said. Residents are encouraged to plant a garden, install swing sets and lighting, or even put up a gazebo or a basketball hoop to create a feeling of neighborhood and homeownership. As a result, Yeager said, residents are expected to live in Quinn communities for more than 3.5 years.

Quinn’s communities are designed to foster the elements of the traditional “American Dream”

Colleen YeagerChief Operating Officer

Plenty of Room for the Growth to Come

As a still-young company of just four years of age, the Quinn Residences team believes there are many good things to come in the BTR space. For starters, the need for more inventory in this space is as pressing as in any other; Howley noted only about one in 10 traditional apartments in the United States have even three bedrooms, much less four, and they do not offer the many other advantages that come with single-family living.

“As Millennials and Gen Z continue to age and progress to the next stages of their lives, be that partnering up with someone, expanding their families, or both, there really are not going to be a lot of places for them to go,” Howley said. “They need single-family homes that they can afford and that will accommodate their families and their lifestyles.”

For Quinn Residences, the way forward definitely involves helping those families meet their changing housing needs. “We are going to continue to grow,” said Yeager. “Thanks to our internalized management, we are constantly improving our processes, quality control, and resident experience.”

In late 2023, the company announced another important element of its continued growth when it formally debuted a $500 million revolving credit facility with borrowing capacity potentially as high as $1.5 billion led by JPMorgan Chase Bank. The new facility and additional committed equity will be used to work with local builders and developers in “attractive, high-growth markets,” Ross said at the time. “We believe increasing the amount of reasonably priced, highly amenitized, impeccably maintained housing…is an essential element [of] addressing our nation’s housing shortage,” he said. The Quinn team firmly believes its product will lead the way as BTR becomes a more clearly defined and increasingly competitive space in the real estate industry.

“The way BTR will shape real estate investing going forward will be different than we have seen over the last few years,” Howley said. “What we are doing has worked because we understand how this unique product works, which markets work, and how to creatively get deals done. Those things are going to be hugely important moving forward — even more so than they have been in the past.”

Millennials and Gen Z need single-family homes that they can afford and that will accommodate their families and their lifestyles

James HowleyChief Investment Officer

BTR is a Space of Its Own

When the term “build-to-rent” comes up in conversation, it is a certainty that there will be multiple definitions of the term in play. According to Quinn Residences CEO Richard Ross, most people do not really have a good handle on exactly what this emerging space in the real estate industry really looks like. “You have to understand upfront that build-to-rent (BTR) is not multifamily; it is not apartments,” Ross said. He continued, “It is also not single-family rental (SFR), which we refer to as ‘scattered site’ because the owner — institutional or otherwise — owns individual homes in multiple locations rather than in one contiguous community.”

Ross said there is a lot more to BTR than “just building 150 homes in a neighborhood,” and those additional dimensions are what distinguish the BTR spaces from other rental- and development-related spaces. “We are always considering the preferences of our future residents when we build a community,” he explained. “We build sustainably and put a lot of technology in our homes. We put solar power in our communities. Maybe most importantly, we are serving a demographic that is renting by choice, which makes our residents and the broader communities more accepting of rental developments than ever before.”

Ross acknowledged that NIMBY (not in my backyard)-ism is still a substantial issue for BTR investors as it is for other types of rental owners and operators, but noted that Quinn Residences communities are designed to fit into the aesthetic of their locations and appeal to the wants and needs of residents who are renting by choice.

“BTR is built purposefully for rent, and that means the entire community has cohesion,” he said. “Typically a Quinn Residences BTR community will have its own entrance and exit, possibly community facilities like a swimming pool, playground, or dog park, depending on local trends, and all the properties will be managed by us to maintain our no-maintenance promise to our residents.”

Colleen Yeager, COO of Quinn Residences, added, “We want to give customers from multifamily apartment communities with expanding families a chance to grow and experience the positive impact living in a BTR community can provide.” She noted that because Quinn communities are designed to feel more like homes than temporary living locations, guidelines around landscaping and external upgrades tend to be more lenient than residents may have experienced in more traditional renting scenarios.

“We encourage residents to make these properties their homes by planting gardens or using the garage as a home gym if they want to,” she said. Interestingly, most Quinn Residences customers use the spacious two-car garages for social activities or as expanded living space and park their cars in the driveway.

“We are just a true option for a lot of people,” said James Howley, CIO at the company, proudly. “When you choose to call a Quinn community home, it accommodates your family and your lifestyle.”

By Carole VanSickle Ellis

This article of featured on the cover of the March 2023 issue of REI INK Magazine

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