Published on June 18th, 2014 | by Josh Hafner
Zachary Bales-Henry is carving a name for himself in real estate
Real estate doesn’t seem like a young man’s game: The average age of the person handling the sale of your property, according to the National Association of Realtors, is 57. Many young, potential first-time homebuyers — those even able to get a loan amid soaring student debts — still have the housing crash burned into the back of their minds.
Then you meet Zachary Bales-Henry. At a whopping four years out of college, the 27-year-old real estate professional is launching his own brokerage, managing the stable of real estate agents and using the industry’s latest technologies — think sophisticated social media campaigns and aerial photos of clients’ houses taken by drones — to carve his name in Des Moines’ homebuying scene.
Bales-Henry became a licensed broker and co-founded Re/Max Precision with partner Travis Moulton last spring, the culmination thus far of a real estate career that began in high school when he worked for his dad, Des Moines Realtor Joe Henry.
Bales-Henry graduated in the wake of a recession and struggled to find his real-estate footing for years, but now says Des Moines is the No. 1 city for young professional Realtors.
Q. So when did you officially start your own real estate company?
A. We officially launched in February. I’m the business partner and broker. But we kept it on the D.L. (down-low) a little bit, until we had everything in place. We’re officially up and running now. We have nine Realtors, which is a lot more than we anticipated getting in the first couple months.
Q. You’ve been working in real estate since college. Why did you decide this was the year to go out on your own?
A. Travis and I had worked together long enough to where we kind of know what works and doesn’t work. In the grand scheme of things, we thought: Why can’t we just do this ourselves and run with it?
Q. Is it the added responsibility and risk that makes it more rare for younger real estate professionals to do something like this?
A. Also from a funds standpoint. I couldn’t do this on my own. Travis is more a part of this organization than I am. We bounce a lot of ideas off each other. We both put more time and effort into this than anyone could realize.
Q. What’s the scariest part?
A. There are no guarantees. You don’t have 401(k)s and standard health care plans. You have to create all that or find it for yourself. And it’s that insanity that makes this job so crazy and so much fun, but also so nerve-racking. My girlfriend will tell you I have meltdowns. You learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Q. How tough was it to start a career selling homes as a young professional after the housing crash?
A. I was not successful for my first three or four years. I got out of real estate for a year to try something else and I managed the Running Room (in West Des Moines). I hated it within the first three months. I told myself, I’m going to try real estate one more time, and if I do not succeed this time, it’s over. I didn’t look back. I think that that’s where that drive and determination was fostered.
Q. Why do you sell real estate in Des Moines?
A. I was born and raised on the south side and finished my degree at Drake. I tell my clients I remember Des Moines when it wasn’t cool. The past seven years is really when Des Moines really got its kick. The downtown (is) rejuvenated. We built trail systems. We got parks and art and music. This is the prime opportunity to be a part of a city on the upswing. Forbes is in love with us. This is the time to be in real estate in this town.
Q. Does your age makes it easier for you to resonate with younger people buying their first homes?
A. I’ve been in real estate since I was 20. And I looked like I was 20 years old. I’ve dealt with the looks, the assumptions and all that and it was much harder then than it is now. Now, I’m in that niche where younger people — 25, 26, 28 — are starting to buy houses and start families. So I’m getting first-time homebuyers who enjoy working with me because they’ve known me.
Q. You’re known around town for sporting bow ties with your friend Danny Beyer. You two launched the Bow Tie Ball last year, the neckwear-themed gala that raised money for Variety, the Children’s Charity. Are you readying this year’s event?
A. We’ve already raised $13,000. Last year we raised $7,000, so we’re gunning to be Variety’s number one event. That is the only charity I’m involved with.
Q. Do you think there’s pressure in Des Moines’ young professional scene to be involved with a slew of charities and boards?
A. There are people out there …. who are somehow at everything and able to do it all. I love those people. And I always think I could do more.