Forrest Fauth (MBA’16) discovered that capitalism and generosity can go hand in hand.
Fauth created Churchill Commercial Holdings in Austin, Texas, a commercial real estate investment firm specializing in the acquisition, management, and disposition of multifamily properties, where he has been able to give back to the community in which he does business.
The company, which Fauth started in 2016 as part of the Churchill Cos. portfolio, acquires B-grade apartment communities in Central Texas built between 1980 and 2000 that have value-add opportunities. Churchill may add amenities such as a business center, dog park, or playground; upgrade a pool; and improve apartment interiors with new countertops, flooring, and lighting.
Fauth’s renters are mostly working-class people living paycheck to paycheck.
“When I think of giving back, it really starts with the residents at our communities,” says Fauth, who is principal and managing director of multifamily real estate for Churchill Commercial Holdings. “Our ability to work with our residents during their good times and their bad has been really rewarding for me.”
That means Churchill may offer moving assistance, payment plans, or debt relief for back rent or fees. “If we are able to help, we will. I think it is just a part of the Jesuit thinking” that was rooted in his Georgetown education, he says.
This mindset became important after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in August 2017, decimating the area surrounding Churchill’s property. Many tenants were unable to work because businesses were temporarily closed or damaged. “We really committed our team, our energy, and our financial resources into supporting our tenants at a time when a lot of them could not make rent,” says Fauth.
While assisting people has been personally rewarding, it also has helped with the bottom line. Tenant turnover is expensive, Fauth explains.
“When a resident is back on rent, we do whatever we can to help them get back to even. We want to avoid collecting bad debt on our books. We have to take the unit offline, turn it, and take it to market. It is not cheap. Concessions we make for our renters upfront always pay for themselves in the long run, and that is how I want to run my business,” he says.
—Melanie Padgett Powers
Published in Georgetown Business magazine, Fall 2018