If you know virtually nothing about home loans and want to learn the basics, reading “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Mortgages, Second Edition” by Jamie Sutton and Edie Milligan Driskill is a good place to start. This book explains the very minimum essentials that home buyers, sellers and real estate agents need to know.

Readers won’t become home-loan experts, but they will understand how mortgages fit into the home-buying process. Co-author Jamie Sutton is a mortgage broker so I expected her to reveal lender dirty tricks and the secrets of how buyers can easily obtain the best home loans. No such luck. Other than suggest comparison loan shopping, she gave very few real-life examples.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

Throughout the book, the topic explanations skim the surface, never revealing more than the basic home-loan lending procedures. The book is sorely lacking in details, such as maximum FHA and VA loan limits. Although considerable space is devoted to explaining these government-backed loans, making them sound wonderful, the authors neglect to disclose the current low lending limits for most communities.

The book gets off to a rocky start, explaining the simple basics of getting pre-approved for a home mortgage before shopping for a house or condominium. Although the importance of checking credit reports and FICO (Fair Isaac Corp.) credit scores are emphasized, the authors totally neglect explaining the easiest place to do so is at www.myfico.com. Perhaps they’ve never heard of it.

Not a bad word is ever said about mortgage lenders. Although the required lender’s good-faith estimate is mentioned, the authors fail to warn that this important lender-supplied document is often incorrect and there is nothing a borrower can do about a false estimate of loan costs.

This appears to be a “sanitized mortgage loan book,” emphasizing the mortgage lending basics, but never disclosing what borrowers need to do to protect themselves from unscrupulous lenders.

Fortunately, the book gets better in the later chapters that explain the closing procedure and home-loan refinancing for existing homeowners. But a few real-life examples from Sutton’s mortgage lending experiences would have enlivened these textbook-style chapters, which tend to drift into boring ho-hum.

Chapter topics include “Before You Start Looking at Homes”; “Choosing a Lender”; “Getting Ready for Preapproval”; “Completing the Loan Application”; “Knowing Your Options if You Don’t Fit the Mold”; “Alternative Lending: Subprime Mortgages”; “Understanding the Costs of Doing Business”; “Choosing the Best Type of Loan”; “Deciding on the Loan Program”; “Shopping the Best Loan Package”; “Shopping for the Perfect Home”; “Closing on the Loan”; and “Refinancing Your Home.”

Throughout what should have been a great “how to get a mortgage book,” the authors spread vague generalities rather than specifics how home buyers can find the best lender and then obtain the best mortgage for their situation. Instead of using examples to explain their statements, Sutton and Driskill move on to the next general interest topic, making for dull reading. On my scale of one to 10, this disappointing book rates only a seven.

“The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Mortgages, Second Edition,” by Jamie Sutton and Edie Milligan Driskill (Alpha-Penguin Group, New York), 2006, $14.95, 202 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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