PSW Celebrates 15 years in business and broadens it's capabilities in booming markets.
UNTIL THIS YEAR, PSW Real Estate has focused on developing and building homes and an increasing number of other projects, such as townhomes or multifamily projects, in Texas’ most desirable cities: Austin, Dallas and San Antonio.
Now, in the company’s 15th year, PSW Real Estate is stronger than ever and expanding with a new Seattle division to cater to clients who desire the city’s quality of life and PSW standards for building, says Anthony Siela, PSW managing member and co-founder.
“Our business model is to build in desirable urban locations and desirable markets,” Siela says.
In addition to building homes, the company also is diversifying its product type with condominium and apartment projects planned as well as a new for-rent detached housing community to be built and held by PSW in Austin.
Up next is a 28-unit detached homes rental community in south Austin, which will be a sister community to a 67-unit project PSW plans to build and sell. The communities will feature similar architecture and offer options to individuals and families. It also helps stabilize the company during
downturns, when rental options are more lucrative.
“Those are ways we are trying to diversify as we’ve grown,” Siela says. “There’s no necessity to grow. There is a necessity to be smart and diversify.”
The company, founded by Siela and lifelong friend Ryan Diepenbrock in 2001, provides jobs for about 60 people, including an in-house architecture division.
The two originally teamed up by purchasing investment rental properties around their alma mater, Arizona State University. Texas became key in 2006, when Diepenbrock moved to Austin to build a portfolio of residential rental properties. Siela and Diepenbrock were equity partners in some of those early acquisitions even though Siela stayed in Arizona working for Shea Homes, where he was responsible for master-plan acquisitions and development.
This year, with new projects underway in Austin, the company is on track to hit around $70 million in sales, Siela says.
“Our business is doing well,” Siela says. “We’re fortunate to be in Texas.”
Texas cities, Siela says, are among the leaders in the push to urban environments with plenty to offer in the way of quality of life.
“Austin has been leading the way for a long time,” he says. “There are some relative affordability challenges, but as you compare it to the coasts, it’s still affordable for the lifestyle with job opportunities here. Dallas is doing great, and San Antonio is more stable but not as fast paced.
“Seattle, to me, is probably hotter as a real estate market than even in Austin,” he adds. “You just have to be judicious in what projects you take on and what you’re paying for land.”
With nine owners, all of whom are active managers in the business, PSW has the real estate, design and build experience to navigate complex
markets and changes, including skyrocketing labor costs.
In 2011, Diepenbrock and Siela brought on another high school and college classmate, Michael Padavic, to establish a holistic design vision as well as improve the efficiency of PSW’s development process. Padavic and his wife, Kristen, who is PSW’s lead project designer, lead an architecture team responsible for the design of all PSW’s communities and homes – from acquisitions through construction.
It was another college friendship that took the reins at the new Seattle division this year, too.
Fellow Arizona State alumnus Ben Rutkowski has stepped up as division president and also is now a PSW member. Rutkowski says he has worked in Seattle-area development since 2002, most recently with another Seattle homebuilder.
Already, PSW has four diverse projects on the horizon in or near the city.
First is a 19-lot subdivision in Kirkland, a community just east of Seattle, on the other side of Lake Washington. That’s an area where land is so hard to come by that Rutkowski says the 3 1/2-acre site may be among the last projects of its size in Kirkland.
Homes there are to range from 2,500 to 3,500 square feet, with an average of 2,900 square feet. Groundbreaking is set for this summer.
“At Clear Creek, our community in Kirkland, it’s an opportunity for families and individuals who want to live in this area but get priced out by the larger homes,” Rutkowski says.
The homes also will demonstrate PSW’s standards for exceptional and efficient living. PSW has made greener building a priority – in Texas, the company is a member of the Austin Energy Green Building program for single-family homes.
Those are techniques that will be applied in the Seattle area as well, Rutkowski says.
“We think homeowners are looking for an efficient home – not only energy-efficient but designed efficiently,” he says. “We spend a lot of time designing the homes so we feel there won’t be wasted space. We think about how a person is going to live there.
“That’s one of the things that will draw people to these homes,” he adds.
Later this year or early next year, PSW plans to break ground on a 39-unit townhouse project in north Seattle, which will achieve a lower price point compared to other products nearby.
Down the line, PSW is considering a mixed-use project on about 1 acre in Columbia City, a southeastern Seattle neighborhood.
That site, which currently houses PSW’s Seattle division offices, could offer between 110 and 150 residential units in a development poised to take
advantage of increasing transportation connections – another community development trend.
With experience on the PSW side from team members like Rutkowski, Siela says the company is in a promising position in Texas and Washington state.
“We want to protect what we’ve built and keep it going for the team that’s helped us get there,” Siela says. “It’s been pretty organic. There was not a master plan in 2001 or 2006. What really makes it work is the quality of people joining our company and helping us make smart decisions.”
With the help of a strong team, the company is now vertically integrated, with development, homebuilding, architectural services and real estate investments.
“A bootstrapping, startup mentality and putting people first has made the difference,” Siela says.