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The Wall Street Journal. Complete Home Owner's Guidebook: Make the Most of Your Biggest Asset in Any Market Paperback – December 30, 2008

4.2 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Crook, editor of the Wall Street Journal Sunday, offers a clear, no-holds barred look at the pros and cons of owning a home—rather than renting one from a bank via a mortgage—along with its ultimate costs. The author debunks popularly held views about the wisdom of viewing a home as a piggybank and how that can easily lead to financial disappointment. Owning a home is essentially an expense, he contends, providing repeated proof that few home buyers build accessible wealth through home ownership except in bullish real estate markets. His advice on making the purchase decision, especially in a weak housing market, along with how and when to use debt to do so, are invaluable. For those aspiring to own a home and those trying to manage the affordability of their biggest asset, this is a must read. It is applicable to home buyers and owners of all economic backgrounds, and in any phase of their financial life from the newly employed to the retired. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

DAVID CROOK is the editor of The Wall Street Journal Sunday and author of The Wall Street Journal. Complete Real-Estate Investing Guidebook. He developed Home Front and Property Report, the residential and commercial real-estate sections of The Wall Street Journal. David and his family divide their time between homes in New York City and rural Connecticut.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business (December 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307405923
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307405920
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #603,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
On an Internet bulletin board recently, a woman wondered how much to offer on a $700,000 home. Others advised her to check the comps.

"What are comps?" she responded.

I asked if she wanted a book recommendation.

Here was a person about to make the biggest purchase of her life, one she would call an "investment," without doing even the most basic research. It's a sure bet she'll spend too much. During the housing bubble, that might not have mattered. In an economy in which millions of properties are now worth less than the money owed on them, a foolish home purchase is likely to haunt a consumer for the rest of his or her life.

Had the woman responded to my question, this is the book I would have recommended.

The Wall Street Journal Complete Home Owner's Guidebook offers sensible, clearheaded (and often witty) advice for those buying homes as well as those who already have homes. Its premise is simple: Your home is NOT an investment; it's an asset. An investment, the author explains, provides income while you own it, and makes you a profit when you sell it. Yes, historically owners have made "profits" when they've sold their homes. But factor in all of the costs of living there--mortgage interest, repairs and maintenance and remodeling projects--and the "profit" may not be a profit at all.

The author's advice: To insure that you'll recoup the most from your home when you sell it, buy like a true investor. Don't spend more for a home than it's worth, don't over-remodel, and don't let Realtors tell you "the pride of ownership" is part of a home's value. Yes, love your home, the author says. But don't be blinded by it.

The housing industry won't like this book, and will likely argue against it. It's in Realtors', developers' and contractors' best interest to try to rebut what you'll read here. But a smart consumer looking out for his or her own net worth will find a lot to love about the Guidebook.
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Format: Paperback
Times have changed. This is not our fathers world anymore. This is especially true when it comes to buying and owning a house. I bought three copies of this book, one for myself, one for my son, and one for my daughter. This book covers all aspects of owning a house from buying, maintaining, and selling one of our biggest purchases. I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Still reading through it but it is an excellent book for the prospective home buyer to ground themselves and their emotions when buying a home - It keeps you focused on keeping the balance between enjoyable living at a reasonable cost - Home ownership is an expense!
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Format: Paperback
As a prospective first time home buyer in today's economy, I am very worried about getting in over my head on a home. I found this book to be an excellent resource in helping me understand home costs and benefits. I looked at several other books, and was disappointed in their lack of focus on the financial implications because I feel the most complex and overlooked area of home buying 101 is whether you should actually buy a home!

I feel the most of the other books are trying to sell you on the notion of buying a home. This book offers much more level-headed advice, and even spends an entire chapter on covering reasons why you shouldn't buy a home.

To me, these differences make this book stand out from the rest and make this required reading.
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Format: Paperback
I can only comment on the excerpt from this book that was published in the Wall Street Journal in January, 2009. The title of the piece was "Read This Before You Remodel". The author's article is full of facts that are mostly correct, but his conclusions are from a strictly economic point of view they and miss the real reason that most people remodel. He suggests that most remodeling is done primarily for increasing the value of one's home. As a professional remodeler for over 30 years I can tell you that this is not correct. People primarily remodel to suit their lifestyle and benefit their family. He misses entirely the point that improving one's dwelling place - where they live and eat and socialize with their family every day - has more tangible benefits than simply whatever increase the improvements may have on resale value.

It is no secret that people can "over-improve" their home by spending more in remodeling than they could expect to recoup after an immediate resale, but the other side of the equation is that their family lives more comfortably in the home, they improve their lifestyle, they are more comfortable entertaining with friends and family for holidays and special occasions, and they enjoy these benefits over many years. Plus - even though the the initial investment in remodeling may not give you a 100% payback if you immediately resell the home, the fact is that the improved value will increase every year with the value of the home - as opposed to an automobile that rapidly loses value year by year.
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