First-time homebuyers face a big challenge in learning the ins and outs of buying a home. Books can be a great help in getting you up to speed, but with so many out there it's hard to know if you're picking a good one or not.
Real estate agents will often tell you that the market changes constantly, so just about any book is going to be outdated by the time it hits the shelves. And it's true that you get your most current information by talking with people who are actually in the business.
But the fundamentals of home buying don't change, and there's a lot of advice remains timeless. The housing market may be totally different from what it was in the early 2000s, but the things you look for in a home and the questions you ask a real estate agent are basically unchanged.
Here then, are several of the titles that have emerged at the top of the heap as recommended reading for aspiring homeowners.
The New Complete Book of Home Buying
First published in 1980, this classic has been updated and reissued to reflect changes in the housing market, such as the growing role of the Internet in buying a home. It provides solid advice on how to find the best available homes in your price range and how to avoid the duds; suggestions for evaluating older homes; tips on choosing a real estate agent; and guidance on how to obtain a mortgage.
The primary author, the late Dr. Michael Sumichrast, was regarded as one of the world's foremost housing economists and was the longtime chief economist of the National Association of Homebuilders. The revised version was updated by Ron Shafter is a former editor of the Wall Street Journal's Washington Bureau, and Martin Sumichrast, the author's son and a real estate authority in his own right.
Nolo's Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home
Nolo has been in the business of producing consumer legal guides for more than 40 years. Updated in 2012, this guide draws on the insights of a team of more than a dozen real estate professionals and the personal experiences of nearly two dozen homeowners to provide real-world advice on the process of buying a home and arranging financing. Particular emphasis is given to how to arrive at a price and terms when making an offer. Authors: Ilona Bray, J.D.; Alayna Schroeder, J.D.; and Marcia Stewart.
Tips and Traps When Buying a Home
Highly detailed, but written in an accessible, conversational style, author Robert Irwin's guide strikes just the right balance in providing tons of useful information without overwhelming the reader. Particular attention is given to negotiating skills, with separate chapters devoted to strategies, making low offers and bargaining. Other sections take you through everything from evaluating neighborhoods and properties, to down payments and arranging financing, to the closing process itself.
Home Buying for Dummies
The "dummies" series of yellow-backed books is renowned for providing straightforward, beginner's advice on a broad range of topics and this one is no exception. If you want to keep things simple without getting bogged down in too many details, this is an excellent choice. There's also "Mortgages for Dummies," another book by the same authors that deals specifically with home finance, although it has not been updated since the housing crash. Authors: Eric Tyson and Ray Brown
100 Questions Every First Time Homeowner Should Ask
Presented in an easy question-and-answer format, this guide has won wide praise from real estate agents, many of whom have used it as part of their own professional education. Along with a detailed look at the home buying process, this book also covers areas often ignored by other home buying guides, such as negotiating with builders and tax law implications of buying a home. Author: Ilyce Glink