Adam Montufar is a hometown boy who moved to Chicago in 2006 to work in banking after graduating from the University of Iowa. Montufar moved back to the area in 2012 as a broker for Paramount Lodging Advisors, a Chicago-based company that specializes in the hospitality niche of the commercial real estate market. He was the broker in the sale late last year of the Suites of 800 Locust to Rebound Hospitality of Northfield, Minn. 

How did you move from banking to commercial real estate?
I had a buddy in the investment brokerage firm NAI Hiffman. They wanted a younger guy with no experience. I was the perfect candidate because I had never done anything in real estate or hotels before. On my first day, we had the full partners meeting with two heads of NAI Global (NAI Hiffman’s parent firm). They spent the whole day discussing the operating agreement, the future. Afterwards, we all sat down as a team for dinner, and my senior partners essentially said, “Who’s ready to leave?” I told them that whatever they decided to do, I was with them. They launched Paramount in June 2007. I had finally figured out what I was doing about that time.

The new firm started about the same time the economy was entering a recession.
Instead of being focused on the brokerage, we shifted to consulting. We focused on lenders and special servicing. We started forming relationships with the groups we thought were going to be working out (commercial mortgage-backed securities). From 2008 through 2011, we were doing assessments of value. It was critical business for us, but at the same time, we were doing it for basically no money; we were just keeping the lights on.

When did the hospitality market make a comeback?
I think we could tell when some of the debt was becoming available again. We saw it mostly in major markets in direct principal-to-principal transactions. You were seeing things start to move again. A lot of these institutional groups with money had to do something. A lot of them were almost forced to make a play. A lot of the hospitality industry is so heavily tied to corporate spending, conventions, consumer spending and that kind of stuff, so until consumer confidence was back and businesses were starting to spend more money, there wasn’t a lot of activity that occurred. We’re definitely in the midst of a full-blown recovery now. We’re seeing transaction volume looking very positive.

How strong is the hospitality market in Des Moines?
For the type of city that Des Moines is, it’s a strong market. Des Moines is very special because it is so diversified. There’s been a lot of investment by the city into ensuring that there is continued growth. With the corporate demand and all of the things that the city has done to make the downtown friendly, I think there is enough growth to support a limited select-service (hotels that offer limited amenities and appeal to a specific group of travelers, such as business people) supply. You look at a property like a Hampton Inn, like a Residence (Inn Extended Stay Hotels), wherever they wind up opening, they find success. As far as the (proposed downtown) convention hotel, initially it concerned me a little bit, because I started adding up the supply of new rooms in this market, but at the same time, I put faith in the city officials and the redevelopment group. They know that with the convention center in place, it ends up being a benefit for the entire community. 

How did you wind up back in Des Moines?
I had always assumed I would end up back here, knowing that my family was here. I met my wife at the University of Iowa, then we reconnected in Chicago. In 2012, she started thinking she would like to come back here. Her mother and sister were in her ear constantly. We said something to Chris Diebel, who is a good friend of mine, and he started reaching out to find opportunities for Peri. She was offered a position as the events coordinator at the State Historical Museum.  It was Peri’s job opportunity that got us back here. (The Montufars were married on New Year’s Eve of 2013.)

What do you do in your spare time?
We try to stay active in the community. One of the things we had a tough time doing in Chicago was feeling like we made an impact. I do some stuff with the Greater Des Moines Music Coalition. I write for the music website I do it sporadically ... I talk about the music scene in Des Moines. I am really impressed with how may local bands there are here.