Like most entrepreneurs, Tyson Schuetze, founder, and CEO of Auben Realty dreamed about what money could do for him. Now, though, he has a bigger goal.
“When I got into Auben, I was pursuing money with the idea it was buying my freedom,” he said. “But I discovered the bigger we grew, the less freedom I had. Then I realized that what I was really striving for was not freedom, but impact.”
That impact, for Schuetze and his company, involves the Auben team, the investors and home buyers they represent, and the community at large.
Auben Realty is a unique real estate company, a fusion of property management, property development, and residential and commercial sales. It has offices in Augusta; Columbia, S.C.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; and soon in Charleston, S.C.
Schuetze said Auben’s business model works best for investors who combine all three phases and is ideal for secondary markets like Augusta, where real estate prices are less volatile.
Auben Realty grew out of Schuetze’s desire to be a real estate investor. He’d served as a leasing agent in New York City, but found investing in properties there was nearly impossible. A mentor brought him to Augusta in 2006, where he began flipping houses in the last few years before the real estate bubble burst in 2009.
Stuck with a few unsellable properties, he sought a property management company to manage them. He discovered that there weren’t any that specialized in property management for investors, so he began Auben to do that. Soon, he added property development to the mix that worked to get houses in condition to be rented and managed.
“That’s still one of the most unique things we do,” Schuetze said. “But it’s also one of the most difficult.”
A few years later, the sales end of the business was added. But then a new opportunity with a hedge fund came along, one which required him to move to Charleston where he oversaw the hedge fund’s efforts to develop affordable housing in the South and Midwest.
In 2018, Schuetze was faced with a decision – go all-in with the hedge fund or return to Auben. He chose to return to use the skills he developed with the hedge fund to rebuild Auben from scratch.
Although Schuetze has big plans to expand Auben into regional and eventually national markets, he wants growth at a moderate pace.
“What was instructive about my experience with the hedge fund is I saw how a company with huge ambitions could quickly get off track,” he said. “I want to be a national company, but my timetable has changed. I want to go slower.”
He also isn’t setting up the company to be a monument to himself.
“It’s important that the organization is not about me,” he said. “I don’t even have a desk in our office. I want it to be much bigger than about me.”
That’s where Schuetze’s goal of making an impact comes in, starting with the team at Auben.
“My goal is to have a positive impact in all our communities and that starts with our people,” he said. “We really want to be a unique organization and that starts within our walls with our team.”
To that end, he stresses the importance of increasing their knowledge and challenging them with situations that allow them to grow professionally. It gives all team members the opportunity to chip in to help increase everyone’s knowledge. As an example, Schuetze said one of the most influential books for Auben has been The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni, which had been recommended by a new team member.
“This is where the best ideas are allowed to percolate to the top, no matter where it originates,” he said. “A big challenge is that we have to make the playbook as we go. The only way we can do that is by getting team members to engage with one another.”
Having a solid, educated team provides a good knowledge base to help real estate investors make their best buys.
“I think where the business cycle is moving into is perfect for our model,” Schuetze said. “Probably the area where it will grow the most is in workforce-affordable rentals.”
He also thinks Augusta, with some of the lowest rents among any neighboring states, is well-positioned to take advantage of that.
“We’ll weather the storm better than some markets because our growth over the last few years has been less insane, less volatile,” Schuetze said. “We’ll have a softer landing. I’m extremely bullish on Augusta’s mid-term and long-term growth.”
Schuetze will be one of the presenters at ABD’s Business Expo on Oct. 20, speaking on the topic “Investment Real Estate: A New American Dream.”