In the latest Tips from the Top, we sat down Jerry Moscowitz, a RE/MAX realtor serving the Minneapolis & St. Paul Area and its suburbs. Moscowitz has been a real estate agent with RE/MAX for 19 years, earning their Executive and Hall of Fame awards. Moscowitz is currently serving as the 2023 Minneapolis Area Realtors (MAR) president.
REAM: What drew you to real estate industry?
JM: The idea of helping someone find their new house always sounded fun and that was before HGTV. Although the work involved is much different than what you see on TV.
REAM: Did you have a career in another industry before embarking in real estate?
JM: Before I got back in to real estate in 2003, I sold directory advertising in the phone book yellow pages for Verizon.
REAM: What’s a piece of advice you would give to a new agent as they are beginning their career?
JM: Look first for a broker or team that supports you and will help you grow. The work is still on you, but having positive encouragement and proven successful people around will help you achieve your goals. Don’t make your decision solely based on lowest desk fees or best commission splits. I refer to those fees as tuition on helping you be a successful Realtor®.
To sell homes you need to meet people. While holding open houses is great to meet new people, there are many different ways you can reach out to people on social media. Pick one or two things and do them well. Be genuine, be consistent in your efforts. People will choose you because they like and trust you. Never take that trust for granted.
REAM: How did you first come to be actively involved in the MAR?
JM: In 2018, after being back in real estate for 15 years, I really thought I should do my part and get involved in a committee with my local association, so I signed up and was put on the government affairs committee. I felt so out of my league but really just soaked up so much information. At the end of the of that year, I was asked to be vice chair and things kept growing from that.
REAM: How has it helped shape your career?
JM: There are so many more moving pieces than how I thought about real estate before. The more I knew, the more I wanted to know. Being in leadership or receiving the accolades was not anything that I was aiming for when I got involved. I feel good being a leader with MAR and I feel good about having as much knowledge as I do when I talk to my clients or when I talk to other Realtors®.
REAM: Tell us about the initiatives or plans you hope to implement at the helm of the MAR.
JM: In a one-year time period, sometimes you are just trying to keep the ball rolling and other times you want to implement things, but many times it takes longer than a year for things to happen. To start with, I want to keep building off the Public Apology that MAR gave in the fall of 2022, regarding the role Realtors® played in the racial disparity gap in homeownership. It was huge for us to address the past and let people now where we are presently. We have to build on from this. This year, our members and the public will see the next steps in trying to change these numbers. Everyone should feel they have the chance to become homeowners and not feel the odds are stacked against them.
Sustainability will be another one. A large percentage of the homes in our area are 50-100 years old. We want to get out and share information with our Realtors® about all the ways they can help their clients. We look at the true cost of homeownership and things like the efficiency of your heating system or lack of insulation which can make a huge difference. As one person said to me, “Stainless steel appliances can’t pay for insulation, but insulation can pay for stainless steel appliances.”
REAM: How does MAR stay ahead of industry trends and changes, and what steps does it take to ensure that its members are well-equipped to succeed in a rapidly evolving market?
JM: Our board of directors is made up of working Realtors®. We believe in education and we also have a tremendous staff at MAR, including some of the best data and advocacy people around. We watch the trends closely and we stay informed on the legislative side, as well. This all affects how well we can do our job, both as Realtors®, but also as representatives of our association and our members.
REAM: What advice do you have for a real estate agent hoping to move into leadership within MAR or another association?
JM: Sign up for a committee or you can check out a committee first. Most committees are open for people to attend, you just can’t vote if you aren’t a member of the committee. Pick something you really have a passion for. You may be surprised at how much you enjoy it.
REAM: Can you tell us about a time when you had to handle a difficult situation with a client and how you approached it?
JM: I think every Realtor® who has been in the business has made the difficult phone call to their seller when something happens that prevents a house sale from working out. To me it is understanding the situation and how your seller will feel. We hate making the call, but we have a job to do and it quickly becomes making a plan to move forward. I think most every Realtor® can relate.
REAM: Can you talk about a unique or innovative approach you have used to sell a property and how it was successful?
JM: No exciting answers for me on this one. I do like using video to showcase a house and I believe in professional pictures. I wouldn’t call that innovative, but I think it is important to have houses show well as soon as they hit the market.
REAM: How has the real estate industry evolved throughout your career?
JM: I have been in real estate since 2002, but this is the second time around for me. I was in real estate from 1985-1991, as well. It was during the era of having a big MLS book that came out every other Friday. It was strongly encouraged to run ads in the newspaper for open houses, we always drove clients to the houses, and contracts went from one page to two pages. Although a lot has changed since then, the bottom line is the same — how we get there and the knowledge of our clients can be much different.
REAM: Can you tell us about an early mistake you made and how you were able to correct it or learn from it?
JM: Never tell your buyer they got the house before you have everything back and signed. Another lesson we learn early on.
REAM: What do you enjoy most about your day-to-day job?
JM: It really is about meeting people. Selling real estate is really about helping people into the next chapter of their life (in most cases) and I get to be part of it. In my role as MAR President, it is the opportunity to work with a lot of great Realtor® volunteers and MAR staff, that we can really work to make things better for our clients but also for our Realtor® members.
REAM: Are there any changes coming in the future that you’re excited to announce?
JM: We will be hosting our annual Realtor® Summit on April 26. It will be a day of continuing education, expo booths and networking. We sold out last year and we’re hoping for an even bigger crowd this year. And I am the emcee, which should be fun.
REAM: Tell us a bit about yourself outside the office.
JM: I am a long-suffering Minnesota sports fan, who keeps thinking next year is our year. I love spending time with my kids and four grandkids. Outside of family, I am most proud of our Toys for Tots Party we have every year at our house — 37 straight years and counting. We have donated over 13,000 toys in that time, including 2,900 in the last three years. Never a goal, but proud of being awarded the Good Neighbor award by Minnesota Realtors in 2021.