When talking with Tyler Ross about both his life and his business, you can expect to hear him describe some things as “natural.”
Whether it was the idea to start a boutique real estate brokerage in the neighborhood where he was born. Or it can be used to describe the kind of fit he felt starting out in the business. Or, he could be talking about the sights and sounds he takes in while driving around his native Fauquier County as one of the area’s leaders in residential, land, and commercial deals.
Ross was born on “Hospital Hill” in Warrenton, and except for a couple of years in Florida for college, has spent his entire life in the rolling foothills of the Northern Piedmont. His father, Tom, is a longtime settlement attorney; his mom, Shelly, owns and operates The Natural Marketplace a couple blocks up Waterloo Street from the Ross Real Estate office in Warrenton. Father and son share an office building and work within a few steps of one another on a daily basis - a continuation of the lessons passed down to Tyler starting at a young age.
“When I was little at the breakfast table, he would quiz me on classifieds of cars, real estate, whatever. ‘Alright, it’s a 1993 Maxima with 180,000 miles, black with leather interior, how much do you think it’s worth?’ So we just got used to the idea of buying something and reselling it and understanding what the value is, trying to get a firm grasp on what a market looks like,” Ross said in a recent interview. “And this is a market that I’ve been, to some degree, indoctrinated into having grown up here and having those quizzes assessed at such a young age.”
The minutiae of real estate didn’t stand out to him immediately, but “when he started working with land, and we moved all the time because my parents divorced and my dad would buy a house, live in it for a couple years and sell it, I got really accustomed to what different houses looked like [and] living in different areas.” By the time he graduated from Highland School in 2002, Ross had spent time in Amissville and Marshall in addition to Warrenton.
“It’s always felt like a really small town. Even though there were more cows than people when I was growing up and obviously the landscape has changed with so many housing projects, there’s always been that consistent community,” he said. “But now having kids, I’m introduced to new people through coaching little league, or helping coach their basketball teams, or coaching the kids jiu-jitsu classes. So as ingratiated and as part of the Warrenton and Fauquier County Piedmont community as I feel I am, I know there are lots of other sub-communities within it that it’s just been a privilege to continue to get to know more and more people. As a kid here, it’s been cool for the community and for the people that help run our town at the county and town level to give me the privilege of being a resource on occasion in that capacity, to be someone they know cares about our town and county and are actually genuinely interested in my opinions and my experiences.”
Ross was first licensed in 2005, a year before his graduation from Rollins College in Florida. After learning in college that real estate was indeed the direction he wanted to take his career and moving back to Virginia, he “knew that the second I was qualified and had the experience, I would open my own shop. It was like the day you turn 16 and you get your license and you take off, that was me with my broker’s license,” he said. “I wanted to do it in my own town because having grown up here, I had a really great network so a lot of the job of establishing myself had already been done … I really had a foundation of knowledge that a real estate agent moving into a new market would take 5 or 10 years of active business to really understand.
“Since I was a little kid, I wanted to build a business, build something of value, something that’s productive for me and my family and, eventually, other people. I think there are a lot of flaws in the industry, and having to do things in the “corporate” way wasn’t appealing to me because there's so little flexibility in a larger environment. Starting my own company, I was able to be more nimble to what clients need and provide different services and not be under the thumb of an overlord that’s telling me what I can and can’t do because of liability to the company or it’s all about [the] corporate bottom line. The independence, I believe, gives me a better place to serve customers and clients than I could in another brokerage environment.
Ross’ brokerage typically handles residential deals, but he’s found his niche in orchestrating land deals around the area. “The highest volume of transactions is done in residential, I love houses and helping people kind of go through that transaction, which is typically the biggest financial transaction that anyone ever makes. But I found myself really enjoying land because it feels like a specialty,” Ross said. “Land is different. Land you really can show somebody that you are highly competent and well-experienced, and there’s just a different level of sophistication when it comes to dealing with land and a different network of vendors and people to help you.
“Having bought and sold land, having subdivided land, I’ve conserved land, we’ve done a nutrient credit bank, we’ve done a timber deal. So of the 650 real estate agents in the Greater Piedmont Realtors Association, I would be shocked if more than 20 of them had that aggregation of experiences.”
In his personal life, when not spending time with his wife Sarah and their two young children, Ross is an active and highly competitive athlete, practicing yoga along with regularly training and competing in his greatest passion of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
“I think it’s important to use [your body] to its highest level. You should exercise, you should eat well, it’s your temple. I love life and want to be around it all the time,” he said. “Jiu-jitsu is one of those highly physical pursuits that can, if you want it to, challenge your physicality, challenge your endurance, challenge you mentally because you lose so much and you have to have mental and spiritual growth through the act of losing over and over again.”
While Ross may have lost some here and there, like all brokers have, his track record is unlike any other in the Warrenton area, right down to his listening habits. Although the bucolic scenery of Fauquier County might lend itself to some drivers trying to find the perfect playlist for their backroad cruising, Ross zigs while others zag (as usual).
“My music playlist has not changed since my junior year of college. There are some songs that speak to me,” he said, but “I’m listening to a book or a podcast, or I’m turning everything off and rolling down the windows and taking in the countryside. If I’m on 29 I’m listening to a podcast or the news or a book, but if I’m on one of these beautiful country roads, I’m not listening to anything other than the wind whipping through the windows.
“We’re building a really special thing here at Ross Real Estate, the people here just teach me something [new] every day and I’m really grateful that they want to be a part of it.”