Utility delays hamper Wan Bridge’s built-to-rent goals

300 Houston-area rental homes are 90 percent finished

Utility Delays Stall Wan Bridge’s Houston Rental Home Developments
Wan Bridge CEO Ting Qiao and The Edison Park Build-to-Rent community (Wan Bridge, Getty)

Wan Bridge has forged ahead with its ambitious plan to develop multiple build-to-rent communities across Texas, despite challenges related to costs, supply shortages and utilities.

The Houston-based firm, led by CEO Ting Qiao, has nearly finished construction of about 300 single-family rental homes in the Houston area. However, a delay in dry utilities are preventing their completion, the Houston Business Journal reported

Over the past year, Wan Bridge has initiated the development of 800 rental homes across Texas, aiming for completion by next month, Qiao said.

Qiao unveiled a plan two years ago to construct 30,000 build-to-rent units in 50 Texas markets by 2026, including 1,000 units in Land Tejas/Starwood Land communities in Houston.

However, a shortage of transformers hindered home production, leaving the 300 Houston-area homes 90 percent finished.

Rising interest rates also posed a challenge, as rent growth struggled to keep pace. Nonetheless, Wan Bridge maintained flexibility by controlling its budget monthly, enabling adjustment to evolving market conditions. 

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While other developers were cutting back, Wan Bridge has thrived amid less competition in the built-to-rent sector in 2023, Qiao said. He anticipates a similar trend in the coming year.

“When the market is very hot, everybody can do BTR communities because there’s easy equity and easy construction loans they can pull together,” he told the outlet.

Demand for built-to-rent housing is strong, prompting Wan Bridge to continue its expansion into Houston submarkets, including Katy, Kingwood and Galveston.

Several Houston-area communities, of single-family homes and townhomes ranging from 1,400 to 1,900 square feet, are slated to open in the first half of next year. 

—Quinn Donoghue

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