Written exclusively for single women who think they want to buy a house or condominium, “The Single Woman’s Guide to Real Estate” by Donna Raskin and Susan Hawthorne explains virtually everything prospective home buyers need to know before deciding to proceed. Even men can learn the “insider tactics” of home buying from an experienced real estate brokerage owner and a professional writer.

This “how to” book emphasizes the special considerations single women encounter when deciding (or not) to buy their own home. Possible pitfalls, such as an inadequate cash down payment and not understanding the mortgage process, are tackled by the authors without hesitation. They even share the drawbacks of each type of mortgage and mortgage lender as well as how to overcome those problems.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

However, readers should not take everything in this book as the real estate gospel truth. For example, the authors say, “The bank actually owns the home and the land it’s on, while you own a very small percentage based on that tiny payment you made…Over the course of the loan, you become the full owner of a home, which usually by then is worth well more than what you paid for it.” The truth is the bank does not own the home, but has a mortgage lien against the title.”

Another surprise revelation, according to Raskin and Hawthorne, is a “non-conforming mortgage” means the borrower doesn’t qualify for a typical mortgage, perhaps due to credit problems, but can probably obtain a “subprime mortgage.” Not true. A conforming loan, in the mortgage industry, means a home loan below the current $417,000 conforming mortgage limit of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac who buy home loans in the secondary mortgage market. The authors say, “These days, most consumers are nonconforming. Very few borrowers have 20 percent down, and many people have more debt than they should.”

While 95 percent of the book contains accurate and sensible information, I wondered where the authors obtained the other 5 percent information, which is incorrect or at least misleading. Readers should be careful never to say, “Well, according to this book, it says here…” I could go on, but I prefer to concentrate on the book’s positive aspects.

Throughout the book are numerous personal stories of successful single women home buyers and the difficulties they encountered and overcame. These real-life examples add realism, especially because the situations are typical for single-women home buyers who are often single mothers.

Although most of the book is well written, providing complete coverage of the many topics, occasionally I was stopped cold by a sentence I couldn’t understand after several readings.

To illustrate, in the section explaining mortgage prepayments, the authors say, “Some lenders, however, don’t allow prepayments, because this reduces the amount of money they will accumulate over the years.” What the heck does that mean? The real reason some lenders include stiff prepayment penalties in their mortgages is they want to continue earning high-interest yields so they discourage borrowers from refinancing or paying off their mortgages early.

While this unusual book provides guidance for single women home buyers, portions are very puzzling and incomplete. Surely co-author Susan Hawthorne, who owns a RE/MAX brokerage in Boston, knows much more than she shares.

For example, in the section about recommended Internet Web sites, the book doesn’t even mention the most important home buyer Web site, www.Realtor.com. Instead, it lists minor Web sites such as www.Realestateagent.com, www.Remax.com and other useful but non-major real estate Web sites.

Chapter topics include “The Nuts and Bolts for Any Buyer”; “The People You’ll Meet”; “The Process and the Paperwork”; “Your First Home”; “The Post-Divorce Home”; “The Vacation Home”; “Investment Property”; and “Buying Land and Building a Home.” The Appendix contains useful very simple forms and checklists.

This should have been a great book for female home buyers. Instead, it covers the major topics women want and need to know about, but the questionable and incomplete information casts doubt on the accuracy of the other material. On my scale of one to 10, this disappointing book rates only a five.

“The Single Woman’s Guide to Real Estate” by Donna Raskin and Susan Hawthorne (Adams Media, Avon, MA; 2006; $14.95; 201 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

Show Comments Hide Comments


Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription