Eliminating the “who’s living above me?” drawback of apartment living


An example of Redwood’s single-story apartment communities.

by Dan Rafter

What’s one of the biggest drawbacks of apartment living? What if the family living above you has a toddler that likes to run across her kitchen floors at 4 a.m.? What if the recent college graduate living above you plays the drums? What if the bickering couple one floor up likes to spend their evenings shouting at each other?

Depending on the tenants living immediately above your head, peace and quiet might be in short supply.

That’s where Redwood Communities Group comes in. The company, which boasts a portfolio of more than 4,800 apartment homes in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, builds just one type of apartment community: single-story ones.

The rationale for this is simple. As Redwood’s own marketing material say, “Every individual wants to live in an apartment home that is of a single-story design with an attached garage and no stairs, compared to a walk-up or two- or three-story garden-style apartment complex.”

Brokers Bill Drinkall and Al Stovall with Fort Wayne, Ind.-based NAI Harding Dahm, know just how successful this approach can be. The two CRE pros are working with Redwood to find sites for them in Northern Indiana.

Drinkall and Stovall recently represented Redwood in its purchase of 32.25 acres of land at 1225 W. Wallen Road in Fort Wayne. The company will develop its one-story luxury apartments at this location.

“The communities they build don’t have amenities such as clubhouses or playgrounds. They build one-story luxury apartments that are aimed at the empty nester and the professionals in the area,” Drinkall said. “They have been quite successful at putting this type of product out there for people who want a very well-kept and clean and quiet place to live. It is a home without owning. It’s not like living in an apartment because there is no one above you.”

Drinkall said that Redwood has a goal to build at least 2,000 of these units in Indiana, a mission the company started last year.

Both Drinkall and Stovall say that Fort Wayne makes sense for Redwood because of its demographics.

“Fort Wayne is known for its neighborhoods,” said Stovall. “There is a variety of homes here, from the starters to the move-up to the luxury. This is a great place to live and raise a family. Once residents here get to the empty-nester category they still love the town. It makes sense for them to downsize the family home and move on to a property like this.”

Stovall and Drinkall work with Redwood, too, through the due-diligence process that the company conducts before building its single-story homes. This might involve speaking to neighbors about any concerns they might have. It might involve researching the history of a piece of land or doing the preliminary research on any easements Redwood might need to acquire.

“We’ll be out in front,” Drinkall said. “We get everyone together and find the contacts they need. We work with them through the proces. It’s not just, ‘Here’s a piece of land. Do your thing.’ We work closely with them through the entire process.”

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One Response to Eliminating the “who’s living above me?” drawback of apartment living

  1. mpclark says:

    The question experienced, licensed real estate agents/property managers have is, “How much is the average rent plus utilities, monthly?”.
    I am concerned about the tearing down of older affordable housing and the lack of new affordable housing. This is great concern for all managers and real estate professionals. States like Ohio are in need of affordable housing for working families and those seeking employment. Without that option, we will see more losses to everyone due to homelessness. There is no need for anyone being homeless.
    Everything I have seen from the NAR and other media sources implies that the glut of vacant housing does not exist and that everyone must have a McMansion again. The NAR seems to be unable to comprehend that no one has the income for McMansion mortgage payments. Multiple builders in Ohio can’t sell and are asking for help from agents to move these properties. In Cincinnati, we have many luxury units built with tax increment financing. These tend to remain vacant since no one can afford them. Traditionally when this happens, taxpayers foot all the bills for the developers. This does not lead to solutions for the bulk of renters.
    Multifamilies are cheaper for many renters who work the usual low paying service jobs we have had since the 1980’s. Landominiums and condominiums serve a certain sector of the market; usually retired and wealthier people. Condos lately have been getting discounted due to slow sales of the existing vacant properties still on the market. Single family housing serves a portion of the market and always has.
    Apartments serve the majority of renters. I don’t see much locally that would imply that builders or investors have much interest in providing needed housing for those who work the usual low paying jobs and have families to provide for. This is a large sector of the market and they normally are paying renters who are not interested in buying a home. This is a sector which is profitable for intelligent and experienced investors. As costs rise for housing and utilities, it would seem that perhaps builders and investors who have experience might want to consider this overlooked market. With experienced management, these properties do well over the long term.

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