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Buying & Selling a Home:
Your All-In-One Guide for Success from America's Leading Personal Finance Authority
(Buying & Selling a Home)
by The Editors of Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine
A home is most people's biggest investment, and perhaps the most daunting. Whether it's a primary residence, vacation home, or investment property, this book helps readers make smart choices for buying right and maximizing equity when they sell. Written by Kiplinger's real estate experts, Buying & Selling a Home guides buyers through the array of financing choices, including fixed-rate and adjustable mortgages, FHA or VA loans and "creative financing arrangements," and shows sellers how to improve property, screen buyers and set the right price. Readers will also learn how to take advantage of home equity to relieve financial concerns from remodeling expenses to college tuition.
From the Author
What amazing changes have occurred in residential housing markets in the 15 years since the first edition of this book was published.
The interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has fallen from more than 13% in 1983 to around 7% today, dramatically improving the affordability of housing, even in the face of steadily rising home prices. While the average new home today is higher priced than ever before, it is also much bigger, more energy efficient and filled with amenities that were once seen only in luxury homes.
There have been a lot of changes in the marketing of homes, too. Discount brokers and buyer's brokers abound today, challenging the traditional full-commission broker who is compensated entirely by the seller. The Internet has become a force in real estate today, with online Multiple Listing Services offering detailed information and "virtual open houses" of every listing in the region. And thousands of homebuyers are now using the Internet to shop for their financing, sometimes actually applying for the mortgage on-line, though the lender's Website.
Meanwhile, some interesting demographic trends are beginning to be felt in housing markets. While couples continue to dominate the ranks of homeowners, a rising percentage of singles are buying their own homes, and racial minorities and immigrants also account for a strongly rising share of total home sales. The strong earnings of Baby Boomers are creating a strong market for upscale trade-up housing.
When home prices softened during the recession of '90'91, forecasts of long, deep declines in real estate values began to appear in the popular press. We saw no basis for these projections, and our judgments has been vindicated by the generally strong housing market of the '90s.
In most regions, homeownership has returned to its traditional role in a family's finances. It will rarely be a hot investment, outperforming annual gains in the stock market. But owning a home will continue to be a good inflation hedge (matching or slightly exceeding the rate of inflation), an excellent tax shelter (one of the few left), and a handy forced-savings plan, requiring you to add to your equity each time you write a mortgage check. And in case you forgot, an owned home will also be your shelter, some place you know you can stay, without worrying about rent hikes or termination of the lease.
HOW THIS BOOK WILL HELP YOU
This book is really two books in one: Part One, for buyers and Part Two, for sellers. Whichever you are--buyer, seller, or both at once--carefully read the part addressed to the other party. You will gain insight into the concerns and strategies of all the major players in a transaction, and the knowledge will help you get a better deal for yourself.
Recognizing that the vast majority of real estate transactions are handled by brokers and agents who receive a commission on the sale, Buying & Selling a Home tells you the right way to select and deal with these professionals. For the few homeowners who have the time and marketing flair to try their hand at selling without an agent--a very challenging task--we give realistic, step-by-step advice on how to do it.
The book also recognizes that your home is most likely your major investment. It will assist you in investing wisely, both in terms of choosing a house and financing it in a way that best meets your needs. Buying and Selling a Home will also help you safeguard your investment--and tells you how to use the equity you'll build up to relieve other financial concerns, from remodeling expenses to college tuition. Special solutions to problems senior citizens may face are also covered. Inclusion of a score of worksheets and checklists and reference to many more resources will make your going easier.
We hope that Buying and Selling a Home helps guide you through the murky and often turbulent waters of real estate deals in America today--and tomorrow. Real estate has long been a core subject of Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, the first magazine of personal finance guidance, so the subjects discussed here will be periodically updated there.