Registered Nurse Suzanna welcomed us "primigravidas" into class with pep, zest and enthusiasm. "A primigravida is a woman who is pregnant for the first time! Hello, all you first-timers!"
Fifteen couples took seats around the lecture room. We were nervous people: husbands clicking their pen-tops, women applying lip-gloss and anxiously licking it off. But Nurse Suzanna was a professional. She was here to teach us newbies how to have a baby, and do it with aplomb.
She dove right into her lesson plan fearlessly, ticking through a slideshow of images my husband might never forget, no matter how hard he tries.
"And this, my friends, is a placenta."
My dear husband gagged behind his hands and nearly fell out of his chair. "What the &%$*!@ is a placenta?" was, I believe, his sentiment. He decided right there and then that he would be a "Northern Territory Coach," no questions.
Nurse Suzanna didn’t flinch. "We are going to massage your fundus to expel the placenta — and, isn’t it beautiful? Isn’t it lovely?" To my horror, everyone in our class began nodding like freakin’ bobblehead dolls. Who is going to massage my what?!
Suddenly I was struck with an epiphany. Why, we primigravidas were just like first-time homebuyers! A bunch of confused grownups who kept nodding — "Yes, we understand, sure, sure" — when really, inside we were the epitome of confusion.
I’d give $1,000 to anyone in that room who actually knew what fundus meant. What we needed was a basic anatomy lesson, with sketched diagrams and labels, not full-color photographs of afterbirth and big words.
Let’s be honest: How many of us really remember that singular fifth-grade period where we supposedly learned all this? Hmmm?
Sometimes, when we are working with first-time homebuyers, we forget that they haven’t had an anatomy lesson yet. When we say, "closing costs," chances are their minds just went blank, but they are nodding all the same.
See, it’s the simple things that make all the difference to their experience and understanding of the process. Just like Nurse Suzanna. She’s studied the birthing process for years and has forgotten that we newbies don’t understand the gravitas of mucus plugs.
This goes for experienced buyers headed back into the distressed marketplace, too. I get the call at least twice a month: The guy who has bought a bajillion homes. He doesn’t really need my help, he says. He just needs the best short-sale deal out there.
It should be discounted at least $500,000, in perfect condition, close in three weeks, and no funny business.
What he is really saying is, "I have no idea what a short sale is, but CNBC just did a special on them and my neighbor Delbert said he knew a guy who just made bank in Philadelphia." Customers like this raise my Apgar score (a newborn health assessment scale) to at least a 9.5.
It may seem surprising to us Realtors that not everyone on earth — or at least in the continental U.S. — knows how a short sale works … yet. How long have we been going through this depression?
But the basic fact is that regular Joe isn’t following distressed home sales data and procedures like we are, even if he is a savvy investor of stocks and bonds. He only reads the highlights. And he tends to believe that he can negotiate with anyone, anytime, anyplace. Rules are for the birds.
And this is why we are professionals. This is why we get paid commissions. We are the teachers, but we have to remember to start from the beginning. Lay a diagram of the home purchase process in front of first-time homebuyers and explain in simple one-syllable words how it works.
Give Mr. Steroid Short Sale a detailed e-mail with lots of reference points on distressed home sales in your particular market. Use examples and ask questions. I promise, he really doesn’t know.
So go ahead, Nurse Susanna, massage my fundus. Meanwhile, let me explain title fees and flood insurance. Thank goodness we’re both professionals.