A Conversation With Cindy Pelz

A look back at two decades in the real estate business.

Cindy Pelz has been executive officer for the Des Moines Area Association of REALTORS® (DMAAR) for nine years.

But her experience in the real estate industry stretches even further back. Pelz has been an employee of the Iowa Association of REALTORS®, the state organization which DMAAR belongs to, for 20 years, serving in a variety of roles.

In that time, she’s witnessed a lot of change in the industry, most particularly the impact of technology, Pelz says.

For nearly the last decade, she has managed DMAAR, which has experienced enormous growth in that time. Currently, the membership stands at more than 2,100 strong.

“It’s been an exciting career I didn’t know I would have,” Pelz says. “But I’m so thrilled to be in this position.”

What initiatives or programs is DMAAR currently working on?

Our big push is safety. Agents need to understand that they may be putting themselves in danger when they decide to show a vacant home to someone before taking precautions such as meeting them first in a public place and asking for identification.

Those are some components of a safety pledge we launched in July 2015 that we’re trying to revitalize. It’s a three-step approach to safety that involves optional pledges taken by local real estate companies and real estate agents to work toward safe showing and open house practices. There’s also an optional contract between a seller and the listing broker that allows their home be shown only to individuals who have been previously identified.

Many brokers have developed safety protocols, and we’re building upon those. We created four safety videos we showed to members this past spring, and are working on others aimed at educating the public.

I admit I was initially skeptical of the pledge because it was asking our members and brokers to drastically change the way they did business. But as the committee developed the program and members said that they wanted it, it totally turned me around. Let’s face it—there are agents who aren’t going to do this, and others who got on the bandwagon quickly. We still have a lot of teaching and learning to do, and we’re going to continue to push that. We want everyone to get on board and everyone to see the value of this, but that will take a little time.

I think, as an association, our biggest challenge is keeping up-to-date with technology so that we can best serve our members and so they can, in turn, best serve their clients. That includes offering various training, including on MLS (Multiple Listing Services), and providing agents with new tools.

For instance, a couple years ago we purchased a product called ShowingTime, which is an appointment scheduler. This enables you to go online and schedule a showing with just a few clicks. There’s also an option where the client can set up appointments. While this doesn’t deter agents from calling other agents to ask about a property, it is a great time-saving tool, which is critical in today’s fast-paced market.

In addition, DMAAR will be launching a new, more mobile-friendly website, probably in the next couple of months. It’s going to be a big-time facelift. Right now, the system we have and our site, dmaar.com, is pretty cumbersome.

We’re hoping to switch to different membership software next spring, allowing us to have a more robust database of member information, including individuals’ community involvement.

What work in the community has DMAAR recently been a part of?

We became a sponsor for the Central Campus Skilled Trades Academy. Nationally, the number of skilled trades workers is down. The building trades are what build homes, and by supporting the Academy, we’re helping support the real estate industry.

We applied for and received a grant of $16,500, which we presented to the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Water Trails and Greenways Plan, a shared vision for our rivers, creeks, and greenways. And we recently held our annual DMAAR charity golf outing, with all the profits going to Variety—the Children’s Charity.

What do you envision for DMAAR in the next several years?

We’ll likely see more growth in membership and potentially even territory. With that will come challenges, including serving the different needs of our rural and metro members. Technology will continue to advance. We have a couple products coming down the line from our national association that may change the way brokers input listings.

How has real estate changed in the time you’ve been in the business?

The biggest thing has definitely been technology, whether it’s taking classes online, contacting our members via mass email, or the evolving technology regarding MLS. In the past, a listing agent would bring you the listing book and you would look through it. Now, it’s all done via email that you access on your laptop, iPad, or cell phone.

The creation of core standards by our national association greatly impacted our whole state. Many of the smaller boards were unable to meet the new standards, which resulted in some consolidations. Here in Iowa, we went from 48 boards to 17 in 2015.

What accomplishments are you most proud of in your time with DMAAR?

There are a lot of things to be proud of, one of which is launching our safety pledge. The strong leadership we have in Des Moines is by far the best in the state. They are engaged, knowledgeable, and so supportive in every way.