Why build for rent -and not for sale?
Reading Chris Nelson's book Reshaping Metropolitan America. Today the US has 31MM Single person households and 82MM households without kids. In 2030 these numbers are projected to be 45MM and 105MM respectively. Nelson describes the epic miss-match between the configuration, location and tenure of the existing US housing stock and the current demand. He lays out good arguments for why he thinks 75% of new housing delivered between now and 2030 need to be rental.
For sale housing requires a serious enterprise to deliver something like a 10-12% margin. You need to close 30-40 houses a year minimum to justify the overhead needed to control your costs, make sure your quality is right, deliver houses on time, and take care of any warranty issues. It is hard to keep outside realtors in line and have a full time superintendent on less than 30 closes a year. Also, you are at the mercy of the local appraisers who may not have a clue what a well located, well-built house in an urban neighborhood is worth, and if the appraiser says the house is worth less than you want to sell it for the buyer has to come up with a larger down payment, and you could lose the sale. If you are well organized enough to sell houses to buyers with crazy expectations, you could be building apartments and mixed use buildings with more flexible delivery deadlines and get a much better return on the brain damage of running a building enterprise.