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American Homes 4 Rent buys shovel-ready subdivisions for single-family rentals in Apopka and Clermont

Celery Cove is an American Homes 4 Rent community in Sanford featuring 37 single-family rental homes.
Celery Cove is an American Homes 4 Rent community in Sanford featuring 37 single-family rental homes. (AH4R)

American Homes 4 Rent just bought a 153-lot subdivision in Clermont and its third subdivision in Apopka.

The Maryland real estate investment trust, which is increasingly growing its footprint throughout the nation, just scooped up 101 lots in Apopka for $2.7 million with plans to introduce another one of its purpose-built rental home communities to the city.

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Windward Hills LLC, led by Frank Cawthon of FHC Development and David DeCurtis of DeCurtis Corporation, was the seller.

The partners fully engineered the subdivision prior to trading hands with AH4R, in a deal that breaks down to about $27,730 per lot. Records show Windward Hills LLC bought the 65-acre property at 4145 W. Orange Blossom Trail in 2017 for $1.75 million.

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Windward Hills is a 101-lot single-family home subdivision at 4145 W. Orange Blossom Trail. Outlined in pink is the commercial portion of the project.
Windward Hills is a 101-lot single-family home subdivision at 4145 W. Orange Blossom Trail. Outlined in pink is the commercial portion of the project. (Orange County Property Appraiser/GrowthSpotter)

Windward Hills LLC retained two commercial outparcels totaling about 3.5 acres along U.S. Route 441. Cawthon said the partners are in talks with a daycare, while the other parcel, he believes, could support medical office uses due to its proximity to a future planned AdventHealth facility.

Across from the site, AdventHealth is planning to build a new distribution center. In March, the non-profit healthcare system submitted a Major Development Plan in Apopka asking for the entitlements to build more than 455,000 square feet of distribution space throughout multiple phases.

The Windward Hills subdivision features 70-foot lots, two pond tracts, more than 3 acres of open space and a recreation/amenity center. In 2018, the company bought the 14-lot Zarabrooke subdivision across from Apopka High School for $534,900.

Lately, the AH4R has been snapping up larger subdivisions thanks to a growing attractiveness to single-family rental properties as an asset class for institutional investors, as well as good living options for Americans looking for more space without the commitment of making a down payment on a house.

As of the end of the first quarter of its 2021 fiscal year, AH4R owned 53,984 single-family properties located throughout 22 states. Its largest area of concentration for business is in Atlanta where it owns 4,977 single-family units, according to a 2021 first-quarter report.

The South Carolina-based private equity firm wants to grow its single-family rental portfolio to 5,000 homes over the next three years.

In metro Orlando, the REIT owns 1,769 units. Its communities include Zarabrooke; Celery Cove, a 37-home subdivision in Sanford; and Crestridge at Leesburg, a 27-lot community in Lake County.

AH4R also owns smaller communities in Apopka including the 44-lot Binion Reserve community and the 22-lot Country Crossing single-family rental community.

Its bigger purchases have happened over the last year.

In October, AH4R paid $5.77 million for the first phase of the 143-acre Sky Lake community in St. Cloud. The land deal is expected to introduce 222 purpose-built rental homes to the Orlando market.

In March, the REIT paid $7.25 million for a foothold in another St. Cloud community called Pine Grove. The 94-acre residential subdivision is set to feature 279 single-family rental homes that will be available to lease in 2023.

Earlier this week, the company purchased a 153-lot subdivision in Clermont called Ivey Ridge, according to company spokeswoman Megan Grabos. The seller is an LLC tied to Michael Boutros with Clermont-based Pillar Homes. The deed has not yet cleared records. The community will be located on the southwest corner of East Lake Louisa Road and Hammock Ridge Road.

AH4R delivered 1,647 homes in 2020 and made its debut as number 45 on BUILDER Magazine’s 2021 ranking of top 100 homebuilders.

Single-family rents were up 5.3% year over year in April, rising from a 2.4% increase in April 2020, according to CoreLogic. The jump represents the industry’s largest gain in nearly 15 years.

Cawthon of FHC Development said he’s noticed more build-for-rent buyers in the market.

“I was curious about it too,” he told GrowthSpotter about the trend. Just recently he sold a 232-lot subdivision on Lake Ella Road near The Villages in Lake County to RealOp Investments for $4.9 million. The South Carolina-based private equity firm recently formed a new division aimed at single-family rental homes.

He said a single-family rental REIT may have more buying power if it’s looking for investments with cash flow and not the immediate gains made from selling new homes in a recently bought subdivision.

“Typically homebuilders want to make no less than a 20% profit [off a land purchase],” he said.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at arabines@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-5427, or tweet me at @amanda_rabines. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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