Superficial. Incomplete. Well-organized. Those words describe “The Essential Home Buyer’s Checklists” by Denise L. Evans. When I looked at the chapter titles and outline for this new book, I thought, “This is going to be a great book because it covers all the home-buying essentials.”

But I was wrong. This is a very complete collection of home-buying checklists, but without much depth. The organization is excellent, but the details are lacking. Surely author Denise L. Evans could have included either real-life examples or hypotheticals to illustrate the general principles she describes.

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Instead, readers are left on their own to flesh out the basics. For example, in the section explaining the importance of credit reports and credit scores, for some unexplained reason the author completely fails to even mention the most widely used FICO (Fair Isaac Corp.) credit scores and how readers can obtain theirs. She either didn’t know about the superb www.myfico.com Web site for obtaining your credit reports and FICO score or she didn’t want to share that valuable information.

Another example of incompleteness occurs when Evans explains the importance for home buyers to make their purchase offers contingent on their approval of a professional home inspector’s report on the residence. But she completely neglects explaining how to find top-quality local professional home inspectors, such as at the American Society of Home Inspectors Web site www.Ashi.com and others.

If it takes you more than three hours to read this superficial book, you’re a slow reader. A few segments will bog you down, such as the excellent explanation of how to create your own mortgage calculator on your computer. But most of the book is written at about a fifth-grade reading level lacking details to explain the topics under discussion.

Hopefully, the next edition of this bare-bones book will be “fleshed out” with details and examples to explain the generalities. One of the best sections, where Evans shows she can do a good job explaining key topics, goes into considerable detail about why checking the insurance claim record for a house under purchase consideration is vital. She even explains CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) reports and how readers can obtain them at www.choicetrust.com or by phoning 866-312-8076.

By far, the book’s sections explaining homeowner’s insurance are the best and most complete. Unfortunately, those outstanding chapters are few and far between.

Several parts of the book are very unrealistic, making knowledgeable real estate readers question the author’s obviously limited experience. The most glaring unrealistic example is the full-page “Request for Proposal for Financing,” which Evans says home buyers should mail to several local lenders to get mortgage quotes. Nobody does that.

Mortgage lenders will surely laugh and throw such a form away. Instead, Evans should have said these are the key questions to ask of each mortgage lender interviewed and this is the form to write down the answers so you won’t misunderstand.

Chapter topics include “Deciding How Much Home You Can Afford”; “Shopping for Financing”; “Shopping for Insurance”; “Deciding What Features You Want in a Home”; “Selecting a Real Estate Agent”; “Shopping For Sale by Owner”; “Comparing Homes”; “Comparing Condos”; “Selecting Land on Which to Build”; “Working with a Contractor or Construction Company”; “Preparing an Offer”; “Clearing Contingencies”; “Seller Financing”; “Canceling a Contract”; “Deciding How You Want to Hold Title”; and “Closing.”

Unfortunately, the chapter titles are far better than their basic, very superficial content. The author attempted to make this a complete book of home-buying checklists. Unfortunately, she created a collection of lists without much practical value because they are raise issues without providing answers. On my scale of one to 10, this book rates a disappointing five.

“The Essential Home Buyer’s Checklists,” by Denise L. Evans (Sphinx-Sourcebooks Inc., Naperville, Ill.), 2007, $14.95, 211 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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