We like rental apartments as an investment because they are stable sources of income-driven by the fundamental human need to put a roof over your head. Millions of Americans choose to rent their housing and Accend provides that service with a unique twist for the military tenant. A great business has to provide a valuable product or service to its target customers at an attractive price. Jeff and I realized that the way apartments are traditionally leased in the United States doesn’t necessarily meet the needs of a military lifestyle which calls for frequent relocation. And that’s why we created Accend.
Moving your residence is a major undertaking for any family. Finding a suitable home or apartment in the right location for commuting to work and near quality schools, shopping, etc is just the beginning. Moving a home full of furniture is also a challenge, especially for people who move very often. Furthermore, military families are often moving long distances, adding to the challenge of trying to shop for an apartment from afar.
Our basic business model is to provide an option for the military and their families to afford furnished apartments at an Accend property for a short- or long-term rental. We make it easy for them to find and lease from us online or through a smartphone. Our leasing agents act as a “moving concierge” to give personalized video tours, answer questions about the local area and complete the leasing process from afar.
We also provide property amenities that are great for any tenant but over time we’ve learned are particularly important to the military audience. For instance, physical fitness is crucial to our soldiers and they like to work out. Our properties feature high-quality and well-maintained fitness centers. We’ve also learned that military families love their pets – dogs in particular. So we feature dog parks to make it easy. Little things like that go a long way to attracting and servicing our military tenants.
Apartments, in general, are viewed as a stable income property, and our business model at Accend calls for taking this stable income and enhancing it through our unique services. When we look at a property for investment, we make sure that we can price our offerings within an acceptable range of the prevailing local housing allowance for members of the military.
The basic allowance for housing, or “BAH”, is a $21 billion line item in the defense budget that is set every year by the Department of Defense and has never been meaningfully impacted by politics, government shutdowns or budget sequestration. Over the last 20 years, the BAH has grown by more than 4% on an annualized basis. In that sense, the BAH has outpaced inflation over a very long period. This forms the basis of an Accend’s investment thesis – target tenants who can afford rents priced at an attractive level to their income – which, in turn, grows every year to accommodate rental increases. Accend investors earn attractive current income from rents and also long-term growth in the value of the property based on the prevailing dynamics of demographic demand for housing.
Our opinion is that these returns can be achieved with less risk relative to comparable real estate investments. And, of course, it makes us feel good to be providing a high-quality service to the men and women who defend our nation.