Strength in Numbers

Tracking statistics accurately has become a powerful tool for Des Moines’ Les Sulgrove.

He’s been in the real estate business for 30 years. However, REALTOR® Les Sulgrove of VIA REALTORS® says his attention to statistics over the past 15 years has been as valuable as any experience in his career. “I’d been active in the real estate industry on the local and state levels for quite a while, but preparing for my role as 2011 president of DMAAR [Des Moines Area Association of REALTORS®], I realized I didn’t feel equipped when it came to real estate statistics.”

As the association’s future president, Sulgrove knew he would be speaking frequently on behalf of the organization and answering questions regarding current and past sales figures. “I’d been tracking statistics for a couple of years at that point but just for my own benefit as a broker. In 2008 I started a blog on the website to process those statistics and help me make sense of the activity I was tracking.”

In the decade-plus since then, Sulgrove has amassed quite a database of information, but he still pulls data manually every day. “I know there are ways to do this electronically, but I like to pull the data myself because the act of processing that data keeps the details top of mind and makes it easier for me to retain and evaluate it,” he explains.

Each day after the close of business, Sulgrove takes a few minutes to look at a variety of statistics, from median home price and inventory of homes on the market to new construction listings and overall sales. “I have a massive spreadsheet where I enter the data and can track trends over the long term. But I can see those trends daily, too, so I know exactly what’s happening in the moment.” began as a tool for Sulgrove himself. He quickly became known as the “StatGuy,” as his vehicle license plate reads. He receives inquiries from other brokers and agents, even competitors, asking for advice and figures to help them understand the market.

“The majority of the graphics and blog posts I’ve written have been the result of questions from agents or questions I had myself,” he admits.

Sulgrove discovered that his own need to grasp the big picture as well as the details of Des Moines’ market was a common need. As he began posting his interpretations of the data, more of his fellow agents responded, indicating that they had struggled to find and assess the type of resource he was providing.

This database of information has also made Sulgrove a better leader, whether it’s his role teaching prelicensing classes to other agents or his service on the Data Research Committee for the national association.

“I also serve as a Federal Political Coordinator for the National Association of REALTORS®, assigned to U.S. Congresswoman Cindy Axne from Iowa’s 3rd District,” he explains. “That involves keeping her informed about needs and interests of the real estate industry and how current or proposed legislation could affect that.”

Sulgrove’s ready grasp of several decades of data makes those activities easier. It’s also made him a more efficient and successful REALTOR®. “I feel better equipped to price a home accurately because I’ve tracked sales for so long. And I’ve seen how much longer a home can sit on the market when it’s priced too high to begin with,” he says. “I can help my clients price their homes well and sell them much faster.”

Just as tracking statistics morphed into a website and blog, Sulgrove’s mentorship of others in the industry has led to a live online presence. He has begun offering a series of Facebook Live events and a fledgling YouTube channel. “The video recordings began in late March because of the quarantine. I felt it was important to find a way to communicate the latest statistics and to answer questions people had,” he says.

In addition to presenting the latest real estate data, Sulgrove often invites a guest to join him and discuss current trends and activity.

Sulgrove has strengthened his own professional skills through his work. Over the past few years, that has strengthened the members of the local real estate community, too. “I’ve always had a passion for educating others, so I’m glad to share the information and show others how to track data for themselves. We all do better when one does better.”

Numbers Don’t Lie

Read Sulgrove’s blog and get the latest statistics on Des Moines’ real estate market

Check out Simply Des Moines Stats on Facebook for more updates and livestream video events

Subscribe to Sulgrove’s YouTube channel