Single-family homes built to rent? How CPI Capital is trying to bring an underused asset class to Canada

The Vancouver-based company is first trying out the model in the U.S.

single-family homes

Credit: CPI Capital/ A rendering of CPI Capital’s Tucson development

The Vancouver-based company is first trying out the model in the U.S. 

Something is happening in Arizona at this very moment that could have direct consequences on Vancouver. No, we’re not talking about the senate race, or the emergence of Arizona Coyotes prospect Dylan Guenther (who the Coyotes only have because of mismanagement by the Vancouver Canucks).  

In Tucson, Vancouver-based real estate investment firm CPI Capital and its team of 14 is currently overseeing the development of 71 detached single-family homes that are being built to rent. Essentially, a neighbourhood is being developed on a swath of land that will create a community in an instant. Families will live in homes approximately 1,500 square feet in size for some $2,000 a month.  

“In Tucson, there’s a hunger for occupancy,” says Ava Benesocky, CEO and co-founder of CPI Capital. “About 1.1 million people live there and there are only about 1,000 units going up, it’s a big problem.”  

In the next 15 months, Benesocky projects that all the homes will be rent, built and fully operational. That won’t be the end of it though. CPI wants to bring that same model to Canadian cities like Edmonton, Calgary and, especially, its home base.  

Sounds great, of course: who wouldn’t want to live in a single-family home with relatively cheap rents? Unfortunately, there isn’t exactly tons of space crying out for development in Vancouver that’s not already spoken for. But Benesocky and co-founder and COO August Biniaz are confident this model can work—if not in Vancouver then at least in its surrounding areas.  

“There is a lot of land available, as long as we can bring the different levels of government together, we can make it work,” says Biniaz, who talked to Vancouver mayor-elect Ken Sim before the municipal election and notes that Sim is “very pro-development and housing—he wants to really change things.”  

Biniaz, who has spent years in the real estate industry as a developer, hasn’t specifically brought the concept—which CPI calls “Build-to-Rent Single-Family-Rental (BTR-SFR)”—to government yet because the company wants to show proof of concept in Tucson. He also notes that there are no re-zonings that would need to take place, as single-family homes are already legal to build everywhere.  

If CPI pulls off the Tucson project in a city that is desperate for housing, it may provide some notice to governments that it actually is possible. But, again, the circumstances in the two areas are quite different—it’s hard to imagine that there’s the land mass ready for this to be built in Vancouver proper.  

For Benesocky and Biniaz—who host a twice-weekly YouTube show about real estate investing—this is more than just a development opportunity. “Imagine how many communities we could build in in Canada, we have an abundance of land here,” says Benesocky. “My dream is really to help Canadians have an affordable place to live and a decent home.”