If you are a complete novice home buyer, “20 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Home,” by Connie and Ronald Price, is a good place to start learning the basic home purchase fundamentals. The best parts of the book are the 20 key questions. While some of the answers are superb, other answers are vague generalities.
The authors, one of whom is a real estate agent and the other is a professional writer, seem to have intended to write a bland book filled with generalities and very little specific advice. Real-life examples would have greatly improved the book.
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For example, when they mention professional home inspections, they fail to alert buyers how to locate top-quality home inspectors.
Instead, they say to ask the real estate agent for inspector recommendations. Unfortunately, many agents recommend the “easy inspectors” who often overlook significant home defects. Instead, the authors could have recommended hiring a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) or one of the other quality inspection groups.
The book’s four best chapters involve obtaining a home mortgage. All of a sudden, the book comes to life in the “How Do I Choose a Mortgage Lender?” chapter. The authors must have some mortgage experience because they switch to explaining details, such as front-end fees, back-end fees, yield-spread premium, and service release premium.
However, for a book that appears from its title to be looking out for home buyers, the mortgage chapters never mention the dirty tricks some lenders play on innocent borrowers.
To illustrate, when explaining typical mortgage lender charges such as administrative fee, application fee, commitment fee, document preparation, funding fee, loan origination fee, processing fee and underwriting fee, the authors never say these are known as “junk” or “garbage” fees, which are 100 percent pure profit for lenders. All the authors say is, “Many buyers are unaware that all lender fees are negotiable.”
Chapter topics, which are the 20 questions, include “Am I Ready to Buy a Home?” “Are My Finances and Credit Adequate?” “How Do I Choose the Best Location?” “What About Building a Home?” “Should I Use a Real Estate Agent?” “What Should I Look for in a Home?” “What Questions Should I Ask About a House?” “How Much Should I Offer?” “How Do I Make an Offer?” “What if I Change My Mind?” “How Do I Choose a Mortgage Lender?” “Which Type of Mortgage is Best for Me?” “Are There Programs for First-Time Homebuyers?” and “What Happens at Closing?”
The concept for this little book is superb. But the implementation is weak, including a few misleading errors. This should have been a great book. Instead, it is filled with generalities, no examples to which readers can relate, and incomplete information. On my scale of one to 10, this disappointing book rates only a seven.
“20 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Home,” by Connie and Ronald Price (Career Press, Franklin Lakes, NJ), 2005, $9.99, 124 pages; Available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries, and www.amazon.com.
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