New book explains home buying for women

Written exclusively for single women who think they want tobuy a house or condominium, “The Single Woman’s Guide to Real Estate”by Donna Raskin and Susan Hawthorne explains virtually everything prospectivehome buyers need to know before deciding to proceed. Even men can learn the”insider tactics” of home buying from an experienced real estatebrokerage owner and a professional writer.

This “how to” book emphasizes the specialconsiderations single women encounter when deciding (or not) to buy their ownhome. Possible pitfalls, such as an inadequate cash down payment and notunderstanding the mortgage process, are tackled by the authors withouthesitation. They even share the drawbacks of each type of mortgage and mortgagelender as well as how to overcome those problems.

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However, readers should not take everything in this book asthe real estate gospel truth. For example, the authors say, “The bankactually owns the home and the land it’s on, while you own a very smallpercentage based on that tiny payment you made?Over the course of the loan, youbecome the full owner of a home, which usually by then is worth well more thanwhat you paid for it.” The truth is the bank does not own the home, buthas a mortgage lien against the title.”

Another surprise revelation, according to Raskin andHawthorne, is a “non-conforming mortgage” means the borrower doesn’tqualify for a typical mortgage, perhaps due to credit problems, but canprobably obtain a “subprime mortgage.” Not true. A conforming loan,in the mortgage industry, means a home loan below the current $417,000conforming mortgage limit of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac who buy home loans inthe secondary mortgage market. The authors say, “These days, mostconsumers are nonconforming. Very few borrowers have 20 percent down, and manypeople have more debt than they should.”

While 95 percent of the book contains accurate and sensibleinformation, I wondered where the authors obtained the other 5 percentinformation, which is incorrect or at least misleading. Readers should becareful never to say, “Well, according to this book, it says here?” Icould go on, but I prefer to concentrate on the book’s positive aspects.

Throughout the book are numerous personal stories ofsuccessful single women home buyers and the difficulties they encountered andovercame. These real-life examples add realism, especially because thesituations are typical for single-women home buyers who are often singlemothers.

Although most of the book is well written, providingcomplete coverage of the many topics, occasionally I was stopped cold by asentence I couldn’t understand after several readings.

To illustrate, in the section explaining mortgageprepayments, the authors say, “Some lenders, however, don’t allowprepayments, because this reduces the amount of money they will accumulate overthe years.” What the heck does that mean? The real reason some lendersinclude stiff prepayment penalties in their mortgages is they want to continueearning high-interest yields so they discourage borrowers from refinancing orpaying off their mortgages early.

While this unusual book provides guidance for single womenhome buyers, portions are very puzzling and incomplete. Surely co-author SusanHawthorne, who owns a RE/MAX brokerage in Boston, knows much more than sheshares.

For example, in the section about recommended Internet Websites, the book doesn’t even mention the most important home buyer Web site, Instead, it lists minor Websites such as, and other useful butnon-major real estate Web sites.

Chapter topics include “The Nuts and Bolts for AnyBuyer”; “The People You’ll Meet”; “The Process and thePaperwork”; “Your First Home”; “The Post-DivorceHome”; “The Vacation Home”; “Investment Property”; and”Buying Land and Building a Home.” The Appendix contains useful verysimple forms and checklists.

This should have been a great book for female home buyers.Instead, it covers the major topics women want and need to know about, but thequestionable and incomplete information casts doubt on the accuracy of theother material. On my scale of one to 10, this disappointing book rates only afive.

“The Single Woman’s Guide to Real Estate” by DonnaRaskin and Susan Hawthorne (Adams Media, Avon, MA; 2006; $14.95; 201 pages;Available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries,and

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

Copyright 2006 Inman News

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