Wilmington, North Carolina – Our House Your Home LLC, a family-owned company, has developed a unique build-to-rent program focused on building and renting high-quality homes for underserved tenants in Wilmington, NC. By identifying infill lots and building 4–5-bedroom houses, the company can meet the needs of underserved tenants and provide them with a happy, stable, and affordable living experience. Our House Your Home, owned by Jeffrey and Becky Maynard, has been highly successful and their program and portfolio will include 50 homes and host over 300 people by March 2024.
“There are very few 4 and 5-bedroom homes available for larger families in the Wilmington area and there were many vacant buildable lots for sale in recent years that no one else seemed to want”, explained Maynard. “These infill lots have been a great investment opportunity in our market because they do not attract the developers interested in larger land tracts, or owners interested in building custom homes,” expressed Maynard. “Further, building on infill lots improves and builds community since infill lots can attract undesirable and illegal activity. This is a real estate trash-to-treasure story. We have built several homes on lots that were being used as dump sites.”
To ensure the seamless execution of their construction projects, and optimize the opportunity available on these infill lots, Our House Your Home hired a builder partner. Their partner, Herrington Classic Homes, is owned by Craig and Mary Johnson, trusted friends of the Maynard family. Together, they designed 4- and 5-bedroom floor plans that fit in the buildable areas of infill lots and can be built side-by-side as duplexes where allowed. The houses were thoughtfully designed to meet the specific needs of families, with features such as: off-street parking, private outdoor areas, accessible ground-floor bedrooms, spacious kitchens with high-quality appliances, energy efficiency and bathrooms with multiple sinks.
Tenants discover the rental properties offered by Our House Your Home through various channels like tenant referrals, social media platforms, and local housing authority lists. The company prioritizes veterans and relatives of current tenants, ensuring that those with military service or existing connections to the community have preferred access to affordable rental units.
Jeffrey Maynard, reflecting on the rewarding experience of providing housing to large, underserved families, emphasizes the emotional impact of their work. “Families moving into one of our new homes always evokes tears of joy, hugs, and smiles of appreciation.” The Maynards firmly believe that it becomes “Our House and Your Home” for the families they serve.
The Maynards anticipate an average tenancy period of at least five years for their rental units. This remarkable stability is a testament to the high-quality living experience, strong community connections, and unwavering commitment to long-term tenant satisfaction that Our House Your Home delivers. “Small developers like the Maynards are aligned with their tenants when both parties have a long-term perspective,” stated Jack BeVier, Partner, Dominion Financial Services, a privately-owned lender for real estate investors. “Tenants and their families benefit from the stability and sense of community that comes from planting roots in a community. Property owners benefit financially by avoiding costly turnovers and re-leasing expenses.”
A crucial factor contributing to the success of Our House Your Home is its partnership with Dominion Financial Services. Serving as the essential banking ally, Dominion Financial Services has played a pivotal role in financing the company’s housing program, enabling the company to scale by building multiple homes simultaneously. “There is no way we could have developed our 50-house portfolio without Dominion Financial Services. We set our construction timeline and our build start scheduling around Dominion Financial and how they operate,” stated Maynard.
Leveraging the collaboration with Dominion Financial Services, the Maynards utilize an Investor Line of Credit to secure bridge loans during construction. Once each property is completed and leased, the construction debt is refinanced into long-term Debt-Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR) loans, ensuring stable monthly cash flow for the completed rental units. “Dominion Financial Services has been helping the Maynards scale since 2019. Their wins are Dominion’s wins. We have a great partnership and are excited about taking them to even higher levels of success!” exclaimed Dominion Financial’s Head of Underwriting, Kathleen Mitchell. The expertise and comprehensive financial services provided by Dominion Financial Services have been instrumental in ensuring seamless construction processes and overall scalability.
Aside from financing, Jeff explains that the heart of any build-to-rent program is the business relationship between the owner/developers and the builder. This relationship is best treated as a partnership. The Our House Your Home and Herrington Classic Homes partnership is built on trust, work ethic, and total commitment to overcome the inevitable obstacles that come with land development. “Further, we have developed a great team that includes a project manager, Craig Johnson’s brother, Keith Johnson, agent team (Andrea Arth, Brian Baucom, and Domenico Grillo), experienced land surveyor (Derek Danford), and a law firm focused specifically on real estate transactions (Mann, McGibney and Jordan PLLC),” explains Maynard.
Other investors can develop and sustain similar partnerships with builders to develop a portfolio like that of Our House Your Home. Maynard, a former marine and climate scientist with a Ph.D. in Environmental Risk Analysis, now aims to combine his science and real estate skill sets to help other investors develop build-to-rent programs. “This is an investment strategy that a lot of investors ignore or think only suits larger developers. There are markets throughout the US where portfolios of new and affordable rental homes could be built on vacant and buildable infill lots. I would like to work with the US-HUD and other partners to develop a national map of markets where criteria are met for build-to-rent programs to be successful, given rents, real estate values, and land and construction costs.”
The success of Our House Your Home reflects its commitment to excellence, community service, and sustainability. The company’s self-managed rental business, which Jeff and Becky refer to as a ‘lifestyle business’, allows the Maynard family time to raise their four children, and engage in hobbies and travel. This unique blend of purpose, profitability, and personal fulfillment makes Our House Your Home a model of rental portfolio development and management.