A Conversation With Robin Polder

Robin Polder is taking the helm of the Des Moines Area Association of REALTORS® as the group’s new president. Polder, who has 37 years in the real estate business under her belt, shared with us her goals for DMAAR in 2015, while also reflecting on the evolution of the industry and what she sees as its biggest challenge moving forward.

Discuss your goals as president for the upcoming year.

Much of my work this year will be to ensure the successful merger of the Des Moines Area Association of REALTORS® (DMAAR) with three other boards in Iowa: Raccoon Valley, Marion County, and Newton. The merger will increase the Des Moines area board’s membership from 1,725 REALTORS® to approximately 1,850 in just January.

The consolidation is part of a nationwide effort by our parent organization, National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), to elevate the quality of the industry’s service to our buyers and sellers. This mandate will reduce Iowa’s 42 boards down to 19. For DMAAR, we will now be representing Polk, Dallas, Warren, Marion, Jasper, Guthrie, Adair, and Madison counties. By the end of 2015, we anticipate a 2,000 strong membership.

Another area I’ll be focusing on is agent safety. While it has always been a concern, we want to take a more proactive and organized effort to address this. There have always been incidents, but it was the death of Ashley Okland and the recent murder of an agent in Arkansas that prompted us to take a closer look at how we are equipping and training our REALTORS® to be safe.

There is now a continuing education course on safety. I’ll be working toward making that course a part of required agent training. Also, in December 2014, DMAAR offered a free self-defense class for the first time, which was attended by 80 agents. We must get REALTORS® to rethink what they are doing, using strategies like the buddy system and meeting first-time clients they are unfamiliar with at the office before meeting them at a property—buyers AND sellers.

Other goals I have included:

  • Establishing a grassroots legislative committee. Our mission is to be proactive in the legislative process to protect home ownership rights. We have 30 volunteer REALTORS® who will be attending the area’s city council meetings, reporting back on anything that could affect home ownership rights or our industry. We will be figuring out what we can do to address those issues with the respective councils.

    DMAAR is becoming more politically active, looking for those candidates who are really proponents of home ownership rights—those who want to keep taxes low, limit eminent domain, and are prudent with zoning changes. Our overall mission is to be a voice for the homeowners and to work in a cooperative manner with the area’s councils.

  • We will be rolling out our new Multiple Listing Service in April or May. The Matrix is an even more user-friendly system, with additional bells and whistles. DMAAR prides itself on being the go-to organization for any real estate information that consumers, appraisers, municipalities, and the media want or need. There has never been any other source with more accuracy than DMAAR, locally or nationally, on Des Moines area real estate.

What’s the most significant challenge facing the industry today?

No different than any other industry, it’s overcoming human nature’s unwillingness to change! Technology is changing at lightning speed and industries have to keep reminding themselves that if they aren’t going to change, their industry is going to die. The good news is that our group is willing to embrace those changes, and it will be DMAAR’s job to facilitate the constant retooling and retraining for our membership.

In what major ways has real estate changed?

I feel like I have gone from the Conestoga wagon of real estate to Mars in these 37 years. Our listings for the MLS used to be on 5×7 recipe cards. That was followed by a book that came out every two weeks (so much for timeliness!) with only a black and white picture of each home’s exterior. We moved to computers in the mid ‘80s, with our first MLS computer system being just one notch above a tin box with a green screen. Today, it is a state-of-the-art system. The introduction of lockboxes was huge because it eliminated the two full days we would spend picking up and dropping off keys. We have moved from payphones to pagers to the first phone that was called the “brick,” courtesy of its size and weight, to today’s smartphones. All of this has given us the ability to see within minutes, versus weeks, when a new listing comes online, has gone pending and, of course, when it is sold. It has been a great journey!

Tell us about your family.

My daughters, Kim Polder White and Michelle Polder, and son-in-law Dave White are also in the real estate business. My other son-in-law, Russ Keith, is a former real estate agent and is a huge help when we need it. My granddaughters, Rylee and Raegan, are such a joy. Rylee started at 6 months in our ads. She “retired” at age 4 and was an integral part of our growth. Hard to believe she will be graduating from high school this year.

To contact Robin Polder call or text 515-306-0715 or rpolder@dsmhomes.com.