Redwood Living has been building single-story, stand-alone rental homes for 20 years, long before the build-to-rent asset class became an industry favorite. But contrary to new entrants into the space, who are adding full-scale amenity packages to BTR communities, like swimming pools and fitness centers, Redwood has a different approach: the Redwood Advantage, a laser focus on tenant experience and service-based amenities.
There might be something to this, as for the second consecutive year, Redwood has placed in the top 10 nationally for reputation management in the Division ORA Power Rankings, the multifamily standard to assess a property’s online reputation. Redwood Living CEO Steve Kimmelman sees it as a natural result of their focus on enriching the residents’ lives and giving them what they want and deserve.
“We don’t get involved in amenity wars,” says Kimmelman, but in many ways, Redwood’s commitment to tenant experience is an amenity. This experience includes sprawling single-story homes with an individual address, private entrance and two-car garage. Redwood also eschews density, and chooses not to maximize units per acre in favor of creating a spacious, inviting environment for tenants. Tenants enjoy a range of perks, like flexible leasing and a gracious pet policy that allows up to three pets per home. “We know that matters to residents. It is one of our most popular perks,” says Kimmelman.
This model wasn’t created in vacuum. Redwood conducts thorough resident surveys to uncover what both current and prospective tenants want and need. Kimmelman says this lets them more closely align amenities to the demand of their residents, and they often discover supposed hot-ticket amenities like clubhouses or gyms are not a priority.
The easy living experience is compounded by thoughtful services, like a maintenance-free experience, easy package delivery via private entrances and proximity to local amenities. “Redwood wants to make the experience seamless and easy. We want to take away whatever stress exists in a home,” says Kimmelman. “Let us be responsible.”
Although the industry has trended toward communal amenities, like swimming pools, clubhouses and gyms, Kimmelman says that the data has proven Redwood’s experiential approach is more impactful.
From an investment perspective, the properties are highly successful. The company has stabilized 163 rental properties, and has an average occupancy of 95%. Perhaps most impressively, Redwood has never sold an asset, the company’s way of ensuring that it fulfills tenant needs and maintains quality. Kimmelman sees this is a cornerstone of the Redwood Advantage.
Redwood is doubling down on this strategy, expanding through the Midwest with a pipeline of 4,000 units—and the model continues to be popular among both tenants and investors. “Investors are not only benefitting themselves financially,” says Kimmelman, “but they are also enhancing residents’ lives.”