Purchasing a home for the first time can be a bit scary. Preparing a client to purchase a home for the first time can be a lot of work. The Iowa Association of REALTORS strives to provide resources and education to members as they work with first-time home buyers looking to achieve the American dream of homeownership.
David Bell, vice president of Gershman Mortgage and an IAR instructor, set out to rethink the process in which both prospective homeowners, lenders and REALTORS navigate the sometimes complicated world of home buying.
“REALTORS and lenders are doing first time home buyer seminars, but it’s someone up there at the podium. It can be boring,” David said, adding that he’s been party to many similar presentations during his military career. “I thought, if I were the student, I’d want it to be more interesting.”
Using his 23 years in the mortgage industry and desire to learn and teach, David and a few others developed the first-time home buyer game Clear 2 Close in 2018. During homeownership month, the Iowa Association of REALTORS and David - a member of IAR’s Diversity Committee - hope the game can bring awareness and knowledge to both REALTORS and prospective homebuyers.
As a lifelong learner himself, David knew that designing a game would help potential buyers and their agents retain important information and put it to real-world use.
“A big piece of this is personality. I did “Four Lenses” to learn my personality and relate to things,” David recalls. “I can be really understanding of science and details but if it’s not fun it bores the hell out of me. There’s something like 40% of the population that is like that. It doesn't mean we don't want to learn, we just need the nuance of making it enjoyable.”
That’s exactly what David hopes Clear 2 Close does. At the beginning of each game, players receive their fictional financial details, including credit score, debts, monthly income, savings and debt-to-income ratio. Players then answer questions related to the home-buying process. After answering the question, players pick a card that moves them forward in the game. Depending on if they answered correctly or incorrectly, this card will have an immediate negative or positive impact on their future, and perhaps the players around them.
For instance, if the player answers correctly they may pick a card that increases their credit score. Conversely, if they answer incorrectly, the card could provide a real-life scenario that has a negative impact on their credit or bank accounts. With each question answered, the moderator will give a short explanation of the question’s topic.
“This is fun and engaging, people get pulled into it,” he said. “You still have a lecture, but it’s in small little nuggets, which is how people ingest it. And it’s being done in a way that presents information that relates to a first time home buyer.”
David started to present the game in 2019, often at small gatherings in restaurants where players would dine on pizza provided by a brokerage or real estate team and learn about the home buying process.
The presentations took a bit of a break during the pandemic, but David has since been hosting the game across the midwest.
“It’s really worked well, the first-time home buyer thing. They don’t feel like they are being sold something, they’re just getting educated,” he said. “Knowledge is power and it’s lightweight. For June to be Homeownership month, this is the time to get out there to understand, play the game, see how we do. Take that knowledge and apply it to real life and you‘ll see how powerful it is.”
While the game was intended to help prospective buyers learn about the process, David also sees it as a way to promote homeownership in Iowa.
“Homeownership is vitally important, this breaks for all age groups, everyone has that American dream of buying a home and living in a place and building that equity and establishing some form of wealth,” David said. “You have folks that just don’t know what they don’t know. The game helps them get that understanding of what’s really important. Having these core concepts build and solidify, it gets them to a point of “I’m ready to go buy that house.’”
If you’re interested in hosting a Clear 2 Close game play seminar, reach out to David at email@example.com.