Customer Reviews: Nolo's Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home
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VINE VOICEon October 30, 2008
I am just starting to research what's involved in purchasing a first home. I found this book to be very helpful in providing a landscape of what is involved, but you should supplement it with more specific books, particularly around mortgages.

The book starts out by having you evaluate what you want in a home, and prioritizing the features. It tells you how to research neighborhoods, ok this is pretty city-centric but they are trying to reach a wide audience. It explains the various professionals involved in each stage of the process, provides forms for interviewing them, and explains what they should provide. It continues to walk you through the inspections, negotiations and closings.

The book is easy to read, but let's face it, the purchase process is complex, and I found myself re-reading some sections discussing the many forms and insurance options. There are some quirky sidebars that are of questionable value (songs about houses, a cookie recipe) but they do add some levity.

Where the book fell a little short was the mortgage discussion. The first book I read "Mortgage Ripoffs and Money Savers: An Industry Insider Explains How to Save Thousands on Your Mortgage or Re-Finance" covers this in great detail, and I highly recommend it as supplemental reading. It will explain in detail the junk fees that are mentioned in this book.

The forms included in the book have varying degrees of usefulness, but the interview and inspection forms are gold. A number of websites are listed throughout the book, and will save you from having to Google for the information.

Overall I'm happy with this book, and plan to reference it throughout the purchase process.
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on April 19, 2008
I started looking at buying my first house many months ago and realized that the conflicting and often spotty advise I would get from friends and family wasn't enough. I needed a book to guide me and fill in the gaps (of which there were many).

I figured a "Home Buying for Dummies" type book was what I needed, but I didn't stop there and thumbed through almost a dozen home buying books at the local store before finding this gem by Nolo.

This was the ONLY book that guides you through the process, taking logical, simple steps while interjecting real-world experiences from different people.

It's written in a manner that appeals to just about everyone, explaining how to find a good agent (or save yourself on closing costs by using an online broker), what you should REALLY look for when finding the house that's right for you, all the way through closing, and even what's involved afterwards!

Buying a home can be stressful and overwhelming, but this book really made things quite easy. I can't think of a single home buying related subject that it doesn't cover. If you are buying your first house, this book is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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HALL OF FAMEon March 18, 2008
For me, because this is the only first-time buyer's guide that discusses in detail issues around getting a personal gift or personal loan towards purchasing a home, it already deserves 5 stars.

But it's more than just that. This is a very comprehensive guide with a helpful accompanying CD-ROM. The materials are organized clearly and presented in an easy-to-understand manner. I had read other guides such as the Dummies one which tended to be really verbose and confusing. This book stands out as a highly useable companion as you search and purchase your first home (and as you deal with real estate agents and lawyers).

Very highly recommended.
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on November 27, 2009
This is a great read for a first time homebuyer because it explains things clearly and thoroughly without making many assumptions about what you know. I liked the section on alternative forms of financing, especially useful in this day of ever more restrictive bank lending.

However, it basically assumes you are going to be using a real estate agent/broker/realtor, so I was disappointed because I want to work without one and I hoped this book would make me independent.

The forms are weak; I was hoping for some sample Offers or Contracts, but instead it has a dream house worksheet and some random other forms which are so small and basic that they could easily be offered for free as a download instead of necessitating the enclosed CD.
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on June 10, 2011
I am an attorney who recently purchased my first home. Further complicating the situation was the fact that I was purchasing this home from across the country. Nolo's first time home buyer's guide was indispensable to navigating the scary process of the biggest purchase of your life. Even as an attorney, it was incredibly helpful to have Nolo's straight forward plain English explanation of the process, what to expect and what to do to prepare for each step. Thanks Nolo and keep up the great work.

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on July 6, 2012
My husband and I purchased this book about a month before we began our home search, we just wanted to begin the process of educating ourself, understanding the whole process and let's be honest the lingo. Without a doubt, this has become our most used and handy resource (next to our agent) throughout the whole process. From the questions raised in this guide to the layout and resources provided--well worth its weight in GOLD!

Chapters are organized well, whether you skip around or read cover to cover
This is actually an interesting read, not a boring how-to!
NOLO sites numerous resources and addition citations for further research (from everything to tips to you should check this out)
Great advise on creating a Dream List
Tips throughout the book are well-thought at and written
Examples are clear and very helpful
Explanations and breaking down a mortgage, insurance, closing process are very clear and helpful
Really good at helping determine what the roles of each of the players (brokers, agents, banks, realtors, etc.)

This edition was written in 2010, the market was very different, especially how banks were treating foreclosures/short sales, if this is something you're interested in I'd get some more information
CD was just okay
LIttle information on Jumbo Loans, didn't apply to us but if it did...
Mixed information on new construction homes

In general, the cons just felt like these were areas for development, not even areas that were bad. This is an incredible asset throughout the entire process and we will definitely be keeping this book as a reference for future purchases!
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on December 22, 2011
If I had to give criticism for this book, the only thing I can say is that it is PACKED with information. It has so much information that navigating through the book can be a challenge because it can be hard to pick out exactly what info you need.

I'm in the process of reading this book and am nearly done. I've sticky note marked about a few dozen or so of the pages. There are occasional inspirational stories and blurbs scattered throughout the book. The book is divided into segments, which describe various aspects of home purchasing. The book walks you through the stages. Each stage seems to be written or supported by an expert in the field.

For a novice home buyer, it's hard to weed out what parts would be truly relevant and what the best way to start a home hunt would be. I guess when you read you just have to make sure to focus on the areas that would be most useful to you, otherwise you can easily get bogged down by facts and cross-references.

Other than that, the writing style is not hard to follow. The book does offer a lot of points for how you can go about getting a good deal and figuring out what you need and want in a home. It points out common mistakes people make. It gives templates and guides on how to further develop what your personal 'dream home' would be.

Overall, I would still give this book a 5 because it is a good resource. I would consider this an encyclopedia of information for reference and not necessarily a quick read.
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on February 19, 2012
This is a very solid overview of the basics of home buying. Has to cover a lot of ground so some things are not covered deeply enough. But the book provides a good foundation for the whole process and your mortgage broker, lender and real estate agent will be able to fill you in on details. For example: book tells a bit about condo associations and the need for FHA approval of the association's stability and resources before FHA loan can be done but my potential lender said that a condo loan could also be a no-go if the association does not meet that particular lender's standards.

What I have found is that the book provides a list of things that need to done in general and the reader will discover what they need to research further for a particular purchase situation.

Took a chance on the ebook version and kind of miss the option of having the forms on CD and being able to read and write on the worksheets but then I do have an Ipod Touch. I am sure the graphics and worksheets would show up clearer on a device with a larger screen (Kindle or Ipad).
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on September 1, 2007
Ilona Bray, Alayna Schroeder and Marcia Stewart's NOLO'S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO BUYING YOUR FIRST HOME is also a standard reference which combines the savvy of buying a first home with legal tips designed to clarify common obstacles to the process. From deciding between a house, condo or coop to getting inspections, insurance, and negotiating with sellers, this is a top pick blending the real-world stories of over twenty first-time home buyer with insights from a team of real estate pros including attorneys, a home inspector, a neighborhood researcher, a mortgage specialist and more. This team approach sets the Nolo guide far above most authored by real estate agents alone.
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on December 27, 2015
This book is well organized by chapter to help you find the information you need. This was one of the books to catch my interest because my husband and I intend to purchase our first home within the next eight years. We are giving ourselves plenty of time to look around because we actually plan to permanently reside in the home for the long-term.The entire thing was helpful for me during the home-buying process to help me understand the steps and what to expect. It includes detailed information on making first time home purchases. There is also a Cd-rom attached to the end of the book. Unlike most how-to books, I read this one cover to cover. It covers every step in the home buying process, in order from start to finish. It includes detailed information on topics such as finding the right house, finding a loan, getting a good real estate agent, figuring out what to offer, the closing process, inspections, homeowners insurance and more. I bought a small army of how-to books to help me buy my first home, but I really only needed this one. The following are some of the informative details included in the book:
Pages 25-27: Pinpointing personal preferences choice in the neighborhood of the home purchase
Pages 90-97: Essential details on real estate agents
Pages 275-303: Items to take care of before closing in on a house dea
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