Rental property developer building for Sparta’s increasing demand
While the U.S. homeownership rate continues to drop, renter-occupied housing is increasing by nearly two million every year.
In fact, home ownership has declined to nearly 63.4 percent, the lowest rate its been since 1967.
Paul Hundt, a real estate developer originally from Middle Ridge, has recognized that trend and has been developing quality rental units in Sparta since 1996.
That’s when he built the Apple Blossom apartment complex, an array of 64 single-family units located on Avon Road.
Demand for those units has been high and Hundt expanded the rental development across the road onto property once owned by the late Charlie Palmer. That development, known as Gala Bend in keeping with the apple theme, just opened 16 new units, which are already occupied.
Hundt has another 16 under contract to be built by 2016 and plans on having 16 more ready for occupancy the following year. In all, he’ll have 112 units in Sparta by 2017.
He attributes the demand for his rentals to changing demographics.
“The environment has changed,” he said. “Baby Boomers by the millions are getting out of their suburban houses.”
He said the occupancy of his Sparta rentals, which are managed by his brother, Mark, is 60-70% seniors. Part of the reason for that, says Hundt, is the floor plans of the handicap-accessible units, which are all single story, two bedroom, two-and-a-half bath and include a single-car attached garage, are convenient to their life styles.
Grass maintenance and snow removal are all covered under leases, which run from $850 to $1,000 a month, depending on the unit.
Hundt said the layout of the complex is to form a community. “There are no back patios, which brings people together in the front,” he said, noting the complex has a community room complete with exercise equipment.
About 15% of the occupants are from Ft. McCoy, while the rest include young professionals who travel to either La Crosse or Tomah for work and enjoy the proximity of the rental complex to the interstate.
“We’re really pleased with our Sparta experience,” said Hundt. “Sparta has helped by having a big road go by.”
Hundt, who has a financial planning firm in Brookfield, and, in fact, was the second person in Wisconsin to become a certified financial planner, recognized residential real estate as a sound investment early on.
He started building eight-family rental units in West Salem in the early 90s, constructing one a year for five years. He also developed rental property in Westby.