Dan Ramsey has written many excellent real estate books, but his latest, “What the ‘Experts’ May Not Tell You About Buying a House or Apartment,” is an uneven, disappointing book that offers both great insights and inaccurate information. As a longtime real estate book reviewer, I would love to tell you this is a great book, or it is trash. Unfortunately, neither statement is correct.
This “how to buy a home” book reveals facts, based on the author’s many years of real estate experience, which should be disclosed. For example, he says, “Here’s one thing many agents won’t tell you: You don’t need them to purchase a residence or other real estate,” and “I’ll share another secret: The same appraiser can produce appraisals with different valuations depending on who hired him or her.”
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Speaking of appraisers, Ramsey says, “Not all appraisers are certified; nor are they even qualified. Many states don’t have licensing requirements for appraisers as they do for real estate agents. It’s up to lenders or consumers to make sure they are hiring a qualified appraiser. Unfortunately, some lenders don’t really care and will hire anyone who can spell appraisal.”
The truth is every state has appraiser license laws and every lender wants an accurate appraisal to protect its mortgage investment.
But the book also contains misleading statements, such as (when discussing home loans) “To pre-qualify simply means to get approval before you have a specific property in mind. Pre-qualifying makes good sense because you then know what you can get rather than guessing.”
But Ramsey fails to explain home loan pre-qualifying means nothing, whereas mortgage pre-approval is a lender’s loan commitment, subject to a few conditions.
Another example of a misleading statement involves the ultra-important professional home inspection. The author says, “What kind of inspector? Most homes should be inspected for two things: safety and pests. The safety inspection is also known as the building inspection. How can you find a qualified inspector or two? Again, ask the lender.”
I’ve never yet found a mortgage lender who would recommend a specific professional home inspector. Ramsey fails, until several chapters later, to even mention the famous American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), which is the largest source of qualified inspectors.
But perhaps I focused on this new book’s negatives rather than its attributes. Author Ramsey is definitely on the side of the home buyer, not real estate agents. Approximately one-third of the book is about “getting the most from a real estate agent.” But another one-third focuses on “buying a home without an agent.”
Please don’t be misled by the book’s title. Although it seems to be about buying a house (that’s true) or an apartment (that’s untrue), not a word is included about buying a condominium or a cooperative apartment. Although many of the same rules applicable to house purchases also apply to condos and co-ops, they are much different and at least deserve a few chapters of special attention.
Ramsey seems to carry an unfair grudge against real estate agents. In the “How Agents are Supposed to Work for You” chapter, he constantly disparages all agents rather than explaining what the majority of hard-working agents do to help their home buyers.
For example, the author says, “Unfortunately, some real estate agents ‘sit on the listing.’ That is, they do the math and determine that, in their real estate marketplace, two-thirds of the listings will sell within 90 days. So rather than spend time and money on marketing, they let other agents do all the work and know that, chances are, they will have a payday soon.”
That might have been true in the past, but today’s successful realty agents heavily market their listings so they can get recommendations from satisfied buyers and sellers.
Chapter topics include “It’s a Buyer’s Market”; “Lenders Hold the Keys”; “Getting the Home You Really Want”; “Selecting a Gem from Among the Duds”; “Helping Your Agent Work Harder”; “Interviewing Property”; “Making the Offer”; “Getting to Closing”; “Building Your Support Team”; “Finding Property For Sale”; “Buying from Builders”; “Pulling the Money Together”; “Making an Offer and Making It Stick”; and “Closing on Your Castle.”
This is an excellent book for home buyers to study, providing they notice the author seems to have an anti-real-estate-agent bias. However, the author is not without his flaws, such as his wrong information, a few of which were shown above. The premise of this book is great, but the implementation is weak. On my scale of one to 10, this new book rates an eight.
“What the ‘Experts’ May Not Tell You About Buying a House or Apartment,” by Dan Ramsey (Warner Books, New York), 2004, $12.95, 178 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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