Mortgage guidebook for beginners debuts

If you know virtually nothing about home loans and want tolearn the basics, reading “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Mortgages, SecondEdition” by Jamie Sutton and Edie Milligan Driskill is a good place tostart. This book explains the very minimum essentials that home buyers, sellersand real estate agents need to know.

Readers won’t become home-loan experts, but they will understandhow mortgages fit into the home-buying process. Co-author Jamie Sutton is amortgage broker so I expected her to reveal lender dirty tricks and the secretsof how buyers can easily obtain the best home loans. No such luck. Other thansuggest comparison loan shopping, she gave very few real-life examples.

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Throughout the book, the topic explanations skim thesurface, never revealing more than the basic home-loan lending procedures. Thebook is sorely lacking in details, such as maximum FHA and VA loan limits.Although considerable space is devoted to explaining these government-backedloans, making them sound wonderful, the authors neglect to disclose the currentlow lending limits for most communities.

The book gets off to a rocky start, explaining the simplebasics of getting pre-approved for a home mortgage before shopping for a houseor condominium. Although the importance of checking credit reports and FICO(Fair Isaac Corp.) credit scores are emphasized, the authors totally neglectexplaining the easiest place to do so is at they’ve never heard of it.

Not a bad word is ever said about mortgage lenders. Althoughthe required lender’s good-faith estimate is mentioned, the authors fail towarn that this important lender-supplied document is often incorrect and thereis nothing a borrower can do about a false estimate of loan costs.

This appears to be a “sanitized mortgage loanbook,” emphasizing the mortgage lending basics, but never disclosing whatborrowers need to do to protect themselves from unscrupulous lenders.

Fortunately, the book gets better in the later chapters thatexplain the closing procedure and home-loan refinancing for existinghomeowners. But a few real-life examples from Sutton’s mortgage lendingexperiences would have enlivened these textbook-style chapters, which tend todrift into boring ho-hum.

Chapter topics include “Before You Start Looking atHomes”; “Choosing a Lender”; “Getting Ready forPreapproval”; “Completing the Loan Application”; “KnowingYour Options if You Don’t Fit the Mold”; “Alternative Lending:Subprime Mortgages”; “Understanding the Costs of DoingBusiness”; “Choosing the Best Type of Loan”; “Deciding onthe Loan Program”; “Shopping the Best Loan Package”;”Shopping for the Perfect Home”; “Closing on the Loan”; and”Refinancing Your Home.”

Throughout what should have been a great “how to get amortgage book,” the authors spread vague generalities rather thanspecifics how home buyers can find the best lender and then obtain the bestmortgage for their situation. Instead of using examples to explain theirstatements, Sutton and Driskill move on to the next general interest topic,making for dull reading. On my scale of one to 10, this disappointing bookrates only a seven.

“The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Mortgages, SecondEdition,” by Jamie Sutton and Edie Milligan Driskill (Alpha-Penguin Group,New York), 2006, $14.95, 202 pages; Available in stock or by special order atlocal bookstores, public libraries, and

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center

Copyright 2006 Inman News

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