If you are undecided about buying or selling a home, “10 Secrets to Successful Home Buying and Selling” by Lois A. Vitt can help you get in touch with your inner feelings about whether to buy or sell. This is an unusual book because it focuses on the “why” rather than “how to” like most home sales books.

This scholarly book contains two major sections. The first is “Your Housing Psychology,” and the second is “Finding Solutions That Work for You.” Since the author is the director of the Institute for Socio-Financial Studies, you know this is a “thinking person’s book” not aimed at the majority of home buyers and sellers.

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The author’s introduction says the book is intended to “simplify what can be a complicated, intimidating and emotionally draining experience for many. By introducing you to your own housing psychology, better negotiating and decision skills will be more accessible to you as a home buyer, seller, renter and housing investor.”

Each of the 10 housing secrets is explained in one or more chapters. The first four “secrets” involve housing psychology. Examples include “Your housing choices are about all of your life”; “Your housing history influences your housing decisions today”; and “You have a housing value system that drives your decisions.”

There is even a “secret” and a special chapter about “Your partner’s housing value system is as important as yours.” Vitt then explains what to do when housing values of partners differ.

The first half of the book is mostly about what influences housing choices, such as the home where you grew up, your income, your lifestyle, and even a multiple-choice “housing profile quiz” to delve into your true housing desires. Along the way, Vitt shares lots of real-life examples of how individuals handled their housing desires.

The book’s second half involves practical solutions to housing goals, based on the personal housing information discovered in the first half. Topic examples include deciding whether to move, owning verses renting, the dream of owning your home, financing, investing in housing, the difficulties of selling your home, and retirement housing choices.

The theme of the book’s second half is “You can use your housing value system to make your best choices.” The goal is to make intelligent decisions involving personal, social, tangible and money factors. Along the way, Vitt provides worksheets to help make important factual housing selections based on key priorities.

Although the book’s emphasis is on buying and selling, occasionally the author recommends renting as a wise housing decision. She reviews the rental advantages, whether for long-term or as a temporary residence while between owned homes.

The book’s best section, included in the chapter titled, “Relationship, Natural and Other Disasters,” is about the often-emotional housing effect of a divorce. The author quotes Justin Pankey, a Michigan Realtor, who wisely advises his divorcing clients they have four options: sell the house now and divide the proceeds; buy out your spouse; have your spouse buy you out; or retain ownership (often with occupancy by the spouse raising the children), or as a rental.

This section about the effect of a divorce on housing decisions continues with additional considerations such as the trade-offs involved. Even the unique views of the “divorce seeker” and the “divorce opposer” are discussed.

Chapter topics of this unique real estate book include “Introduction to the 10 Secrets”; “Your Home and Your Life”; “Your Housing History”; “Creating Your Housing Profile”; “Learning About Yourself – the Personal Factor”; “Family, Friends, and Communities”; “Feeling ‘At Home'”; “The Real Deal About Finances”; “Whether to Move and When to Move”; “To Own or Not to Own”; “Refinancing, Remodeling, and Building Homes”; “Investing in Other Homes”; “Selling and Saying Goodbye to a Home”; and “Overcoming Moving Stress.”

This unusual home buying and selling book is filled with psychological and philosophical housing considerations most books on this topic overlook. Although it skims over the practical aspects, such as how to deal with realty agents, it delves deep into the “why” behind housing decisions. On my scale of one to 10, this one-of-a-kind real estate book rates a solid 10.

“10 Secrets to Successful Home Buying and Selling,” by Lois A. Vitt (Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle River, N.J.), 2005, $17.95, 247 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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