Unless you have no sense of humor, never smile, never laugh, and wear a pocket protector for your pens (indicating you are overly cautious), you will thoroughly enjoy Frank Cook’s latest real estate disclosure book, “You’re not Buying That House are You?” In addition to being a semi-serious real estate “how to buy a home book,” bookstores and libraries should also shelve it in the humor section.

I never realized Frank Cook, a long-time real estate journalist whom I have met at several real estate industry conventions, could be so funny without losing his serious perspective. This new book almost made me want to go out and buy a home because he makes it sound so easy and so much fun.

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For example, Cook says, “The good news is you are in charge of this deal. Of course, that’s also the bad news. If you screw this thing up, you’re going to have no one to blame but yourself.” That indicates the author’s fun-loving style, which, interjected with moments of seriousness, sets the tone of this educational but fun-loving book.

Never before have I read such a humorous and enjoyable, yet very educational, real estate book about the very critical topic of buying your home. Cook knows his topic extremely well. But he doesn’t hesitate to give sage advice.

To illustrate, he says, “What if I hire the wrong agent? Everyone thinks they’ve hired the wrong agent, even it it’s their own mother. With the exception of your mom, however, if you’ve hired the wrong guy, you can fire him and find someone else. It happens all the time.”

At least one aspect of this home-buying book is very different from all the others. Cook begins by trying to talk the reader out of buying a home. He actually reminds prospective buyers of all the pitfalls, such as mortgage payments; probably wanting to move in the typical five to seven years; the high cost of interest in the first few ownership years; the repair and maintenance costs; the good and bad neighbors; plus “Yes, it’s going to make you poor for a while. Cash will be a little tight now and again.”

Presuming the author was unsuccessful talking the reader out of buying a home, he next tackles the topic of the steps to take when seeking a home for purchase. Cook outlines a 24-step procedure, perhaps overly-detailed, which should take most home buyers several months to accomplish. Along the way, the author interjects his contagious humor to help preserve the home buyer’s sanity.

The “buyers are liars” chapter (with which every experienced real estate agent will agree) is one of the best because it exposes the real reasons home buyers do what they do. Cook reveals how buyers often justify buying a home more expensive, radically different than what they told their realty agent they wanted, and much larger (never smaller).

In the chapter about all the characters involved in the typical home purchase, which Cook refers to as the Real Estate Theater, he introduces the individuals a home buyer is likely to meet. The author warns how to handle each one and which ones are truly essential to a successful home purchase. At this point, the author becomes serious and seems to lose his humor, especially as he explains the roles of the lender, appraiser, home inspector and lawyer.

This book should only be read one or two chapters at a sitting. The reasons are too much laughter might discourage the reader from buying a home, the seriousness of the topic, and the consequences of each step in the home purchase process. Especially when the material turns to the especially boring subject of real estate agency (who represents whom), the reader is cautioned to try to stay awake because the legalities can be very important.

As a non-realty agent, Cook can poke fun at real estate sales agents, especially all their alphabet-soup professional designations, which nobody fully understands. I presume his life insurance premiums are paid in advance and he won’t mind making his widow wealthy for the things he says about some realty agents. Although he says 99.9999 percent of realty agents are honest, he treats the others with caution, as he warns home buyers, “The agent is not your buddy.”

Chapter topics include “For Heaven’s Sake, It’s Just a House”; “Calendar for a Spring-Summer Move”; “Buyers are Liars”; “Who are These Blundering Fools?” “Agent Etiquette”; “Corporate Relocation”; “Fair Housing”; “Moving the Kids”; “The House Hunt”; “Negotiating the Deal”; “The Home Inspection”; “Your Neighbor May be a Space Alien”; “The Close”; “The Move”; “What If It All Goes Wrong?” and “See, That Wasn’t So Bad.”

If you read this book without thoroughly enjoying it, you need a humor transplant. In addition to being a very entertaining and authoritative “how to buy a home” book, it puts the reader into the right mood to purchase a home. On my scale of one to 10, this one-of-a-kind book rates an outstanding 10.

“You’re not Buying That House are You?” by Frank Cook (Dearborn Trade Publishing Co., Chicago), 2004, $17.95, 194 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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