Venturing into home buying for the first time is full of exciting moments and often equally inundating moments. Learning the latest real estate rules about mortgage lenders, interest rates, down payments, real estate agents, disclosures, FHA loans, and other basics before going into the process can help make the process less overwhelming. That’s where our first book from the realtor.com® editors, “The Essential First-Time Home Buyer’s Book: How to Buy a House, Get a Mortgage, and Close a Real Estate Deal,” can help. I sat down with Judy Dutton, realtor.com deputy editor who managed the book’s publishing process, to learn more about the book, how it helps first-time home buyers, and insights from her own home-buying journey.
Writing a book is no small feat. Can you walk us through how the book came to life?
Here at realtor.com®, our editorial team produces a great deal of richly informative articles on News & Insights about the real estate industry, including advice pieces about home-buying. I noticed that there was a void in the book market — no book covering the first-time home-buying process by a real estate brand existed. Our team decided to change that. We know that spring is the kick off of the buying season and with the first-time home-buying experience as daunting as it can be, we wanted to make sure that buyers were armed with the information and tools needed before going into their own home-buying journey. We got to work sifting through our articles, working with other real estate experts to get the most up-to-date facts, and pulled together an A to Z home-buying guide that we are really proud to share. It is very exciting to be breaking new ground.
What sort of details does the book cover?
The book is designed to be an interactive and comprehensive experience. It is broken down into chapters covering details such as mortgage information so that home ownership is financially feasible; advice to clean up your credit score; finding the right mortgage lender and what it means to get pre-approved versus pre-qualified for a home loan; the difference between various types of loans; making and negotiating an offer; what takes place during a home appraisal, inspection, closing, tax implications, and much more. The book also features charts, a glossary with common home-buying jargon, and pop quizzes so that readers can check what they are learning along the way.
Does the book offer advice on finding a real estate professional?
Definitely. Selecting the right real estate professional for you who can assist you is critical. The book even has questions to ask them to identify if they are the right fit for you. Some home buyers commit to the first agent they meet and that is where they stop. However, it can be helpful to interview a few agents, ask them questions, see how they respond, and validate that it is the right agent relationship because he or she is going to be along the journey with you every step of the way.
What pieces of advice in the book do you think readers would be surprised by?
It may surprise readers to learn about some of the common pain points or mistakes made in the first-time home-buying journey. Take for example what a potential home buyer says in front of the listing agent. A home buyer should never gush about how much they are interested in the house in front of the listing agent as that may soften their leverage position when it comes time to negotiate. We also address things like the five types of homes to avoid, the pros and cons of writing a letter to the seller to go with your offer, and terms like pocket listing and escrow.
How did your own home buying journey inspire the work of publishing the book?
When I bought my first home — a converted milk factory in Brooklyn — I made a ton of mistakes along the way that I really regret. I learned the hard way that buying a home really is nothing like buying a blender, there’s just so much more to it than you would think. I wish a book like this existed back then. So, I hope this book helps others avoid the many costly home-buying mistakes I made myself. I hope this is the first of many books we do at realtor.com® — I’d love to expand and do coffee table-style books on “America’s 100 Most Unique Homes,” or “A Sneak Peek Inside Celebrity Homes,” books on home decor, home hacks, I think there’s so much we can do that people would love to read.
Where can our readers find the book?
The book is now available on Amazon and other major book retailers both as an ebook and a paperback version. I encourage both home buyers as well as real estate professionals to check it out. One of the things I enjoy about the print version is of course how tangible it is. Buying a home is immersive and having something you can reference whenever you need — something you can mark up with your own notes — is really special. And once you are in that new home, it is a reminder of everything you accomplished to get to that point.