Tuesday, June 28, 2011

First-home Buying How-to

Nolo's Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home
by Ilona M. Bray, J.D., Alayna Schroeder, J.D., and Marcia Stewart

*NOTE: This review refers to the book I received through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. As per the rules, I receive a free book in return for a review, and whether it's positive or negative has no affect on my receiving books in the future.*

I was really excited to see this offered as a LibraryThing Early Reviewer option since I have begun to consider the possibility of buying a house, but have felt at a complete loss of where to start. Then, after I won it and received the book, I put off starting it feeling a little intimidated and afraid that it might be boring and difficult.

Nothing could be further from the truth. While some parts certainly interested me more than others, the writing was accessible and the explanations clear. Two of the authors are lawyers, and they do a good job of explaining general law in layman's terms, even while stressing differences by state. Of course, since the subject matter is so broad, no one chapter can cover every option or every situation; furthermore, since laws are different from state to state, there are going to be individual differences. But this book lays excellent general groundwork for the ins and outs of home buying. The authors primarily focus on the purchase of a single-family home, though from time to time special situations like a new home from a developer or a co-op is considered. Each chapter introduces one aspect of purchasing a house, such as creating your wishlist, how to assemble your "team" (real estate agent, attorney, mortgage broker, etc.) and what each of them do, and how to finance your purchase. What could become dry facts and figures is broken up by real life stories, tips, worksheets (there are a few short examples in the text, with directions to look at the complete one on the CD-ROM included), and more. I especially enjoyed the "Best Thing We Ever Did" features in which something that could have been abstract, like getting a home inspection, translated into something practical by showing how someone truly benefited from it.

As a result of reading, I'm feeling more comfortable understanding such things as what a mortgage broker does, and what I might need to do to see if I'm in a position to buy now or later. I will be able to ask more intelligent questions and not feel completely lost. Though the earlier chapters have much more relevance to my current situation, I'm sure that I will refer to the book as I come closer to truly be in a position to buy.

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