Real estate broker, Kira Moscowitz, knows that buying and selling a home is one of the biggest decisions a person can make. That’s why she takes educating first-time buyers seriously. From conducting homebuyer workshops to generously sharing her expertise and knowledge of Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods with clients, Kira coaches her clients through the each step of the journey.
I recently sat down with Kira to discuss how she transitioned from working in the nonprofit sector to becoming a broker, common homebuyer mistakes and why she loves Chicago real estate.
How did you get started in your career? What does your “typical” day look like?
I started in real estate in a marketing role and then quickly decided I wanted to be in the field working with clients so I became licensed broker.
One of my favorite aspects of real estate is that every day is different which presents new challenges and growth opportunities. Typically my days consist of showings, inspections, meetings with clients, connecting with lenders and attorneys, and several emails and texts addressed on the go.
What advice do you wish someone would have given you before you started your career in the real estate industry?
Prior to entering the industry, I spent several months networking with new and established brokers to learn about how they run their businesses. This was instrumental for me and provided a realistic expectation of what it means to begin a career in real estate.
The advice that I wish I had received is that it’s easy to be busy, but busy does not always equate to being productive. Selling real estate means consistent and constant networking, seeking out new clients, staying in touch with former clients, and marketing while also attending to active transactions. Time management is key.
What are two common mistakes that first-time homebuyers make when looking at property?
The most common mistake is looking at a property that is beyond a buyer’s financial means. It is very important to understand the lending process and different loan product options to determine a buyer’s budget.
The second most common mistake is focusing solely on the property and not looking at the building as a whole. When buying a condo or a co-op, it’s important to do your research on the health of the building in regards to maintenance, finances, and history of sales.
How does buying a home in Chicago vary compared to other major cities? What are the pros and cons?
The majority of housing in Chicago is composed of condos or co-ops. This means that an individual is buying into a partnership with all other owners. This can be a pro as there are multiple owners paying towards the cost of building maintenance. However, neighbors don’t always agree on the best way to run the association and manage building projects.
Chicago home sales vary from other major cities in that attorneys work on the transaction. They ensure an additional level of protection for buyers and sellers when reviewing and modifying executed contracts, completing title searches and conducting the closing.
What are two things every first-time home buyer needs to know?
First-time homebuyers need to understand the costs associated with buying a home. In addition to the purchase price, the buyer is responsible for inspection, appraisal and lender fees in addition to closing costs. A buyer should typically factor in an additional 2.5 % of the purchase price to pay for the transaction.
Secondly, the key to a successful transaction is building a team that works together on your behalf. It is important to select an experienced agent, attorney and lender who will educate, advocate and represent you throughout every step of the purchase.
What are two things that first-time homebuyers can do to better educate themselves before purchasing?
Prior to seeing properties, meet with your broker to discuss what the home buying process looks like from start to finish. Purchasing a home is an exhilarating and emotional experience. Entering the market as an educated buyer will help ensure a smooth transaction. Additionally, take time to explore your preferred neighborhoods. Walk around at varying times of the day and week to get a feel for the area. Once you have selected your desired location, speak with your broker to learn about the growth and market in the neighborhood.
How do you know if you’re ready to take the plunge and become a homeowner? What is something that you need to have in place?
Taking the plunge to be a homeowner is very exciting but also brings a new level of responsibility. If a buyer is eager to make an investment, grow into a home, and enjoy the opportunity to design and personalize their space, then it’s a great time to pursue homeownership. A buyer must be financially stable and prepared to incur any additional costs that result from surprise home repairs and maintenance. There is no longer a direct line to your landlord to address any issues.
Why is working with a good lawyer essential to the success of your clients?
Most people don’t realize that a real estate transaction involves multiple rounds of negotiation. The first takes place when the buyer is submitting an offer and negotiating the terms of the contract. The second round of negotiations occurs after the inspection has been completed and additional terms need to be agreed upon between the parties. A good lawyer will aid in the second round and ensure that the buyer is receiving the best deal possible and is making a sound investment.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
I love being an educator and sharing my knowledge about Chicago’s dynamic neighborhoods, market trends, and best practices for buying and selling a home. Working with a broker often requires clients to share intimate details about their living habits, finances and long term goals. I pride myself on my clients’ trust in me and it’s very rewarding to help my clients begin a new chapter as they move into their homes.