Finding A New Home

Iowa Association of REALTORS® relocates to West Des Moines.

After two decades in the same location, the Iowa Association of REALTORS® (IAR) did what its members do best—the association found the perfect new home to meet its needs.

“We actually hired a commercial REALTOR® to work on our behalf and facilitate the process,” says IAR CEO Gavin Blair. “We’d been leasing for 20 years, and the previous space didn’t fit our needs anymore. It made sense for us to find a space that would be an investment for us.”

President John Goede says, “Our building lease was coming up, so we did our due diligence to determine what the best options were for the future.”

In the fall of 2016 the group began evaluating its options: building its own space, leasing a newer space, or buying a new building. IAR opted to purchase an existing space to renovate to suit its needs. The new location is 5950 Village View Drive, Suite 100, West Des Moines.

Blair says, “This building went on the market just as we were beginning to look, and it met all our criteria. We were able to renovate it to meet our needs. The location is close to hotels and restaurants. It’s easy to access from the interstate. It was a great fit.”

The West Des Moines location, a former bike shop, has been transformed into a bright, contemporary office that provides multiple-use spaces for the variety of activities the association hosts for its members. Although the new space is only a few thousand more square feet than the previous site, Blair says it’s more efficiently designed, utilizing the space more effectively.

In addition to private offices, the Iowa Association of REALTORS® facility offers a board room and two spacious classrooms, as well as what the staff calls “huddle rooms.”

“The huddle rooms are great spaces for members to meet, for staff to gather,” says Goede. “Agents even use them to meet with clients and have the ability to reserve them for meetings.”

Members have already made frequent use of the flexible spaces, including meeting with potential clients, using huddle rooms for making calls, and utilizing the flexible spaces for signings.

“We’ve incorporated so many features that we didn’t have at the old location,” Blair says. “There are places for students to eat and make calls when they’re here for a class. We have a mother’s room. Even the location of the building is more suited to our members and students than the previous location.”

The artwork throughout the building takes a customized approach, too, incorporating the IAR logo. “Even the service awards have been made into conceptual art to display those awards,” Blair says. “And the mural above the lobby features scenes that reflect the different areas of the state.”

The new offices may be a vast improvement over the previous building, but both Blair and Goede say it’s designed for the future as well as the present.

“There’s room to grow,” Goede says. “If our staff grows, or as needs change, there’s room to adapt and grow in this space.”

“If we should need to in the future, the modular wall system allows us to reshape the space easily without tearing up the whole building,” Blair explains.

Another way the IAR has already planned for those future needs is in the technology at the new offices. “Everything is wireless,” Goede says. “Each classroom has cameras, making it possible to stream classes across the state. We can fit 100 students in the larger classroom, 30 to 40 in the other, so there are great education possibilities here. The emphasis is on open space and friendliness—it’s designed for the future.”

As a statewide organization, the IAR has made an effort to make the facility suitable and useful for all its members, not just those in the metro area. The classroom setup allows for regular continuing education classes, and the streaming capabilities will enable those classes to go beyond the classroom walls.

“We’ve planned for that,” says Goede. “We have a studio on-site already because we recognize that more and more, the broadcasting and recording options will be valuable to our members statewide.”

Since moving into the facility in February, the association has held several continuing education classes already, as well as board meetings. IAR also has encouraged the Des Moines Board of REALTORS® to use the space for happy hour and breakfast events so members can tour the new building.

Despite some unfinished details, an unofficial opening event was held in conjunction with Bus-In-Day at the Capitol in February. The IAR plans to have a more formal ribbon cutting later this year to celebrate its new home.

“We’re excited to share the facility with our members,” says Blair. “The new building gives off a more modern, open vibe. That reflects who we are. We’re an open, forward-looking organization.”