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With 1.2 million more foreclosures in the processing pipeline and well-funded hedge funds and REITs now spending billions to buy and manage single family rentals, many wonder whether there will be a market for so many rented houses, which have experienced extraordinary growth. From the peak of the housing boom in 2005 to 2010, single family rentals grew at a rate of 21 percent versus just a 4 percent increase in total housing units.

Is the single family rental boom just another real estate bubble? Or are we witnessing the expansion of a new housing option, one that has existed for centuries that’s perfect for a generation burned by the housing bust and wanting the space, privacy, security and sense of community for their children that they grew up with? A good place to find the answer is to listen to the expectations and dreams of families already living in single family rentals.

We contracted with ORC International, Opinion Research Corporation, one of the most respected Caravan survey companies in the world, to look at both apartment dwellers and single family renters to learn more about them. What transpired was eventually published as the National Survey of Renters.

Some of the findings were expected. Single-family renters tend to place a higher value on safety, cleanliness and friendliness of the area and schools than on access to parks, recreation and community centers. They also tend to be more affluent than multi-family renters and are more apt to have children. In addition, the data showed that single family home renters tend to be a little older.

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