In its two prior editions, “Home Buying for Dummies, Third Edition” by Eric Tyson and Ray Brown sold more than 600,000 copies. But the “new and improved” version, while not perfect, makes this best-seller even more valuable for home buyers and their real estate agents.
Because of its complete coverage of virtually every home-buying topic, this is still the best “how to buy a home” book currently available. The new edition added extensive coverage of Internet resources for home buyers. This information is especially valuable because more than 70 percent of today’s home buyers begin their quest on the Internet.
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However, the one section that can stand some improvement deals with the vital topic of obtaining a home mortgage. Although the superb chapter on credit scores leads up to the mortgage chapter, the mortgage explanations are a letdown.
Also, the pros and cons of obtaining a mortgage online are overlooked. The key subject of APRs (annual percentage rate) to compare mortgage offerings among lenders isn’t even mentioned. Considering that Tyson and Brown also wrote “Mortgages for Dummies,” they know well the key facts home buyers need to understand about home loans.
Especially valuable is the advice for home buyers to “assemble an all-star real estate team.” In addition to explaining how to find a top-quality buyer’s agent, rather than relying on the seller’s listing agent, the authors recommend pre-arranging for a mortgage lender, professional property inspector, and possibly a lawyer, escrow or closing settlement officer, and tax adviser.
Heavy emphasis in the “What’s it Worth?” chapter is placed on how home buyers can spot overpriced listings. Shockingly, Tyson and Brown explain the reasons could be inept listing agents and unrealistic sellers. More important, they emphasize how savvy buyers can know what a house or condo is really worth before making a purchase offer.
The book’s best chapter explains how home buyers can negotiate a successful purchase. “Put yourself in the sellers’ position. The sellers don’t care how long you’ve been looking for a home or how little you can afford to pay. Faced with several offers, sellers select the offer that gives them the best combination of price, terms and contingencies of sale. Find out what the sellers’ needs are before making your offer. Their self-interest invariably prevails,” the authors sagely advise.
Although the book’s original edition was written when co-author Ray Brown was a recently retired Realtor, since then he was “recalled to active duty” two years ago to manage one of San Francisco’s largest real estate brokerage offices. Because he is now in the trenches every day supervising more than 100 salespeople, the book’s latest edition has become more valuable since it reflects the latest insights Brown learned from being back on the frontline of current home sales.
Chapter topics include: “Deciding Whether to Buy”; “Getting Your Financial House in Order”; “What Can You Afford to Buy?” “Why Home Prices Rise and Fall”; “Understanding and Improving Your Credit Score”; “Selecting a Mortgage”; “Mortgage Quandaries, Conundrums and Paperwork”; “Where and What to Buy”; “Assembling an All-Star Real Estate Team”; “What’s It Worth?” “Tapping the Internet’s Best Resources”; “Negotiating the Best Deal”; and “Inspecting and Protecting Your Home.” The excellent Appendix includes a sample real estate purchase contract and a home inspection report.
Could this already outstanding home-buying book be better? Of course. There is always room for improvement. But the book’s small deficits are tiny compared to the valuable and practical home-buying information conveyed in an easily understandable manner. If you plan to buy a home, don’t fail to first read this outstanding book. On my scale of one to 10, it still rates an off-the-chart 12.
“Home Buying for Dummies, Third Edition,” by Eric Tyson and Ray Brown (Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, IN), 2006, $21.99, 328 pages; available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries, and www.amazon.com.
(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center).
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