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Home Buying For Dummies, 3rd edition Paperback – February 6, 2006
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This may be the best comprehensive guide for home buyers. Home Buying for Dummies is coauthored by Eric Tyson, author of several other books in the For Dummies series, and Ray Brown, a long-time real estate professional. Like other books in the series, this one is an easy and even entertaining read. But it does not gloss over details in pursuit of simplicity. Home Buying for Dummies covers all the bases, providing clear explanations and reasonable judgments on how to select a mortgage, hire a real estate agent, find the right house, and negotiate a good deal. The book goes further than most in providing helpful, specific information. For example, in discussing ways to save money for a future down payment, Home Buying for Dummies even includes the phone numbers for various mutual funds appropriate to different investment time frames. --Barry Mitzman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
"If you are considering buying a home, don't fail to read this excellent new book."
Robert Bruss, real estate columnist, about Home Buying For Dummies, 1st Edition
In the market for a home, but don't know where to start? Not to worry! From financing, mortgages, and credit scores to closing the deal, bestselling real estate authors Eric Tyson and Ray Brown walk you step by step through the entire home-buying process.
Discover how to
- Harness the Internet to help in your search
- Determine how much home you can afford
- Select the right type of mortgage
- Work with agents, brokers, lenders, and lawyers
- Research neighborhoods and home values
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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We frugally saved for decades in order to eventually buy our own home, paid off student loans, have an old vehicle, no vacations, no extras, etc., and were facing painful disability. Our savings was squandered by buying when we did. Ironically, if we'd remained renters we would now be able to buy a decent home outright. Since buying, our property has lost almost 40% in value. We thought being owners would give us more autonomy, more freedom. What a joke! Between interest rates, loss of equity (massive negative "appreciation"), high local taxes, high HOA fees, etc., we will be negatively impacted by this boondoggle for the rest of our lives. If only we had remained renters ... buying when we did was a massive rip-off, a false "American Dream." This book did little to ameliorate our naivete regarding the complexity of condo living, which we thought would be easier and simpler. Wrong! Many issues of home ownership aren't described in enough depth, particularly with condos/lofts.
Before you buy a condo, beware: I've served for years on our condo association's Board of Directors. A BOD can alter the governing rules at any moment, so even if what you read sounded good when you bought, stability and predictability aren't aspects of condo life. Read through any condo community's governing documents with a fine-toothed comb. Learn about the distinctive characteristics of communal life in a loft/condo development. Demand the financial status of the Homeowner's Association, and discover whether Reserve Fund is healthy. How many homeowner's are delinquent in the dues payments? How many in foreclosure? Are short-term leases allowed? How are renters evaluated? What is the rentals vs. homeowners living in the development? That number affects home values, loan possibilities, and your insurance rates.
HOA dues, their amount, and their percentage of your mortgage can hurt future values; try to discover how often assessments are raised. Our HOA dues rose only one month after purchasing the property, we were affected by other owners who don't pay their dues, as well as foreclosure losses. Pet policies can change in a heartbeat. One week after we bought, the BOD President resigned. Two weeks later, new BOD Rules went from no pets to anything-goes; large, barking dogs are now unhappy, yardless residents of this yuppie ghetto. As to human noise, the management company (who answers to the developer) supports their noisy tenants over homeowners. Is privacy preserved if a complaint is issued against another resident? None of these issues were disclosed prior to purchase.
Research previous tax records for the property to help determine fair value. We were hit by tax-lightening, a sudden increase in taxes post purchase. Read police reports for crime in the area. What is the security level for the community? Change the locks after you move in, and be sure the HOA's property management company doesn't require a duplicate set of keys, unless you desire them to have access. Define the common-elements and common-property, and who is responsible for what when it comes to repairs. Our HOA and management company attempted to use so-called common elements as a means for entering all units every few months. They even wanted to store residents' keys in an insecure area. It took an enormous fight, even with me on the Board, to prevent this and protect our privacy.
Don't become enamored of the space. Imagine it's a prison you won't escape from for many years. There's always somewhere else to live. Ask the realtor to wait outside (we did, but not for long enough). Spend lots of time inside the condo prior to making an offer, don't let the realtor rush you through. If you have a partner, ask them to stand outside the door and make noise, verbally and walking around, so you know how sound carries in the building and into the unit, and how it might affect your quality of life. Ensure the home-inspector isn't paid by the homeowner or realtor, but that they work for you. We were lied to about the hidden dryer vent; it vents within the unit, with no outside outlet due to "historic" architecture! Not good for indoor air quality.
Open closets to see about storage, even if the homeowner has filled them with so much junk that you can't see in. Investigate the windows, they're an expensive repair, and need to be insulated properly. Our windows were not repaired prior to purchase, despite a clause the owner was supposed to get this done; we dread the future cost. Poke around the bathroom and appliances. Our dishwasher was cracked inside, something not easily visible, not discovered till after purchase. Turn on the oven to see how heat carries. Our oven heats up the whole wall and neighboring appliances, so we can't slow-cook roasts or turkeys. Thank God for pizza.
A HARP refinance didn't help much, except lower our monthly payments, small recompense in the overall financial disaster. At this point, considering risk of no-return in the investment, it would be foolish to pay extra towards the principal. After the HARP refinance, which does not require PMI for those who didn't have it before, the bank insisted we escrow our home insurance policy. But whenever they are supplied with the certificates (we get copies), they lose them, and we have to make multiples calls to get this straightened out. This is ridiculous, when they insist on the arrangement, and make the payments. This is another way responsible homeowners are humiliated. We really are too old for this nonsense! God forbid we ever move out of state and have this property go to rental. This place is strung together with ball and twine, with a manager who is beyond belief. The fabulous, historic wood window frames were so poorly restored that one of the only effective, removable cures, in this harsh climate, is brown Duck Brand Duct Tape. What I really need are Minions, or fun with Duck Brand Despicable Me Printed Duct Tape.
We despise living here, but can't walk away from this nightmare, the value has declined so precipitously. We know that whenever we do sell this place, it will be at an enormous loss, decades of hard-earned savings gone in false value/negative appreciation. In essence, all we paid for is a worthless piece of paper. I wake in the night with a pounding heart, thinking of all the money we've paid to the banks, how we'd be free if we hadn't bought this condo, and what we could have done with all that money (lining a banker's pocket). Even with a HARP refinance, this is a financial disaster. We can't even enjoy peace and quiet, it doesn't exist in this environment, we watch DVDs to escape (fly to Hogwarts!) and tune-out the surrounding noise. There is no waking up from this nightmare. We hope to leave here, and buy a tiny place that is sound, to eventually be free. Good luck, I hope you have a better experience than us.
PS: Regarding HARP, we received an unsolicited cold-call from a small, out-of-state branch of our mortgage bank, outside our servicing-region, breaking bank protocol. The banker promised various incentives to refinance, and claimed she was obliged to send a Good Faith Estimate since a conversation took place (a lie). She created a loan application without our permission, which is illegal. This meant a "hard-pull" on credit history; no one has any right to poke into your credit history, or create a loan, without your express permission. This insanely aggressive broker then sent us sloppy paperwork, rife with errors. We made numerous calls to the bank, got nowhere with Customer Service, and finally broke through via (of all things) a good person in Collections, where a vindictive rep had transferred us. The Collections guy was glad to talk to someone who paid their mortgage, and transferred us to a higher level than Customer Service. We uncovered loan activity done in our names by the broker, and thus froze our credit. Suggestion: speak with your bank's Loan Compliance Officer if this ever happens to you, and report it to all the appropriate agencies.
This For Dummies guide also includes quite a bit of valuable information most people would not think of when buying a home. Sandbagging by mortgage companies is moderately more common than you might expect in a down market and this guide tells you how to recognize it. The authors also explain why sellers, in general, are not very realistic about what their property is worth and how to effectively use the internet when searching for a home. Hint, mortgage calculators are not nearly as useful as they are convenient. You should know from your own budget (including contributions for retirement savings) what you can afford, and not be pushed into a house beyond your means by a calculator that only considers your income and debt ratios. Finally, the book covers the psychology of home purchases, including buyers remorse and negotiations.
There is simply too much in this book to cover it all. Suffice to say, this is not a guide to getting rich in real estate. The authors (wrongly, in my opinion) do view real estate as an investment but first time home buyers, the target audience for this book, should not. Homes can in fact be something of a liability. But the 4th edition of 'Home Buying for Dummies' can help you limit the costs associated with buying your home and for this reason alone the book is invaluable. And if, in the future, you should actually make money on your purchase, more power to you. Besides, the authors have another title for you on how to sell your home. If it is even close to as comprehensive as this book, you should buy it too when the time comes.