The development represents a proof of concept for Casata, an Austin-based company that launched in 2020 and plans to build similar communities of tiny homes for rent across Texas and, eventually, across the country.
Casata says its next development will be in San Marcos, a fast-growing college town about 30 miles south of Austin. At over 200 units, it would be much larger than Casata Austin.
The company is also considering developments in other Texas cities like San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Waco and College Station.
Casata welcomed its first residents in February, about a year after construction began. Of the 60 units intended for long-term residents, only five remain available for rent.
Home sizes range from 378 square feet for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom unit to 758 square feet for the largest two-bedroom floor plan. Each rental home has a covered porch, which also varies in size.
Monthly rents range from $1,400 for the smallest unit to $1,865 for the largest.
Forrest Hardy, who oversees technology, marketing and Casata’s short-term rental business, CasataStay, said the remaining units should be rented out in the coming weeks.
Casata is the brainchild of Aaron Levy, a local real estate developer who hatched the idea during the COVID-19 pandemic. I met him in my rental unit shortly after I arrived.
Levy told me he wanted to create a community of self-contained homes offering privacy and comfort at affordable rental prices and with smaller footprints than the sprawling homes being built today.
He said he also wanted to create a sense of community that he felt was lacking in apartment complexes.
“You have an idea of your own home and space, but we’re really curating a lifestyle that has community engagement,” Levy said.
Soaring prices have put homeownership out of reach for many Austin residents, leaving them to seek other options. Casata aims to help fill this housing need.
According to brokerage firm Redfin, the median selling price of a home in Austin hit $645,000 in March, up 21.9% from just a year ago.
Rents have also increased. According to the Zumper listing site, the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Austin is $1,550, up 31% from a year ago, while the median rent for a studio is $1,290.
In Camden Shadow Brook, an upscale apartment community about 2 miles from Casata Austin, rent for a 659-square-foot one-bedroom unit starts at $1,459.
This price is roughly the same as the Casata house I stayed in, but for a much larger square footage.
But there are compromises. In Casata, I didn’t share the walls with anyone and felt like I had a lot more privacy and outdoor space than in an apartment building.
Casata’s units are considered manufactured homes, which means they are built in a factory and transported to the Austin site, where they sit on steel frames.
Casata partnered with Champion Homes, a manufactured home builder, to produce these units using pre-existing floor plans, with a few minor modifications.
Levy said Casata Austin’s homes were built at a factory near Dallas, where each can typically be built in less than a week.
Future Casata communities could feature Casata-designed floor plans and use modular construction, meaning they would still be built in factories but sit on a foundation, like a traditional house, and follow the same construction codes. construction than those required for houses built on site.