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Nolo's Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  486 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
The start to finish guide that puts the fun back into the challenge of buying a first home, with comprehensive, timely information from a team of experts. Get valuable tips on: deciding between a house, condo, co-op or townhouse; exploring your local market for the best value; creating and managing a realistic homebuying budget; qualifying for and securing financing; getti ...more
Paperback, Third Edition, 440 pages
Published January 11th 2011 by NOLO (first published June 4th 2007)
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Community Reviews

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Mar 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All first-time homebuyers
Shelves: nonfiction
I am so glad I checked this book out this spring! I started reading it thinking my husband and I were going to buy my grandfather's house, figuring I'd just skip over all the parts that didn't apply to us. Luckily, I stink at skimming, so I ended up reading nearly everything. I learned SO much about this whole home-buying process, from vocabulary (what "points" are, for example) to what to expect and what to watch out for at each stage in the process. Buying a house turned out to be a whirlwind ...more
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Read most of the 2017 edition while buying my condo in Charleston. Very easy to understand and helpful in explaining the whole process.
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here we go. . .
Solid information and some ideas that I hadn't thought about it. I feel like one really needs to start the process and talk with professionals though for a more accurate picture of home purchasing, particularly given how much the market has changed in the last six months.
Apr 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lot of really good information, all in one place. There's also a CD-Rom with worksheets for you to evaluate what you really want, do a budget, etc. It had some information I didn't know, which is saying something since I've researched a little too much into this stuff :)
Mar 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is awesome and really made me feel more prepared during this process. You will still need to do some research on things in your state, but this book is a great start.
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I borrowed this book because I wanted to learn more about the home-buying process -- understand what the steps are, the terminology, and what costs to expect. I now feel like I have a much better grasp of what's involved, and expect to have just a little bit less stress if I ever am in a position to buy.
Katherine Cowley
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I read this book, and then I bought a house. So I suppose the book worked!
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lot of information

The book has a lot of great information and does a great job at explaining the home buying process and what to expect.
Sep 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read several books on home buying, but this was by far the best. You'll want to read this before choosing a buyer's agent and mortgage lender, so that you are well prepared and know what to expect. No only does it have extensive information, but it offers a lot of additional references including a CD with electronic versions of all the forms and checklists in the book. Yes, some of the recommendations are other Nolo books, but I haven't seen another book with as much useful information.

Mar 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't sure how helpful this would be, so it took a while before I sat down to read it (and even longer before I was mentally ready for the mortgage chapter). It turns out that the experts really break down each step of the home buying process and make the whole thing accessible to those of us who really don't know anything!

We're in the shopping phase of the process now, and while that hasn't all been fun, I feel a lot more confident that we'll find the right house. We know what kinds of thing
Mar 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If, in the search for your first home, you only read one book, make it this one. Wowza! I started out pretty much a blank slate, and by the time I finished reading I felt more than prepared for the time-consuming, mentally draining emotional rollercoaster that is house hunting.

It's very informative, and clearly and patiently goes step-by-step on the entire process: from finding an agent, to getting a loan, to throwing a housewarming party. The examples were very helfpul. I also enjoyed the dive
Jeanne Boyarsky
I've read a few nolo books in the past and appreciate the lack of fluff. While this book did have more fluff that the others, it wasn't excessive. I think it is because the other books I read had a more specific topic.

I did notice one "personal story" beginning the chapters had an editing error. page 127 and 217 both told the same "fantasy house" story about a house designed by Sarah Susanka. I'm pretty sure two people didn't have the same fantasy house word for word.

The lists of questions, what
Jen Lynn
Feb 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, 2014-reviewed
I decided it was about time to buy a house since I was getting so sick of paying rent. My problem was I had no idea what went into the process. I knew there were people who would guide me through it once I started the process, but I wasn't sure if I was ready yet or even who I needed to contact first to get the ball rolling. This book helped me through the process. It reassured me that I was ready to do it, it walked me through what to look for when it came to my "house buying team", and it gave ...more
Benjamin Sigrist
Good summary of the whole confusing process of purchasing a home. The biggest takeaway I got was to have good people on your team (realtor, inspector, lender, etc). Will be checking this out again later when the time gets closer to a home purchase for us. One thing I was disappointed at however was the cavalier way the author suggests borrowing money from friends or family. I don't mean to say that this does not work, but they barely mention the ramifications on relationships if the person or fa ...more
Nancy Yob
I read this book as I was going through the process of buying my first house. It covered a lot of issues, but some of the most important ones were given short shrift, and others were covered too much. Maybe it was just my experience. Of course, home warranties were hardly covered, and it never says who's supposed to mention to you that you should get one. I didn't, and the second day I lived in the house, the washer broke. I'm not blaming the book; I'm just saying that I think that might be rath ...more
This is a practical book full of good advice. Buying a house with someone else's money, which is basically how it's done in this country, is not a simple process closed with a handshake. It's complicated. There are many steps, and this book covers them. Sometimes the guy trying to sell his house won't have the good sense to be somewhere else when you are walking through as a prospective buyer. He might even be a close talker. But it's a plasma hot market, and sellers can get away with that. Inte ...more
Geoffrey Benn
“Nolo’s Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home” is exactly what it claims to be, though having not bought a home yet, I can’t actually vouch for the applied value of its contents. Overall, the book is well put together and takes the reader from the stage of deciding if buying is the right decision all the way through settling into a new home. This book will not make you a real estate professional, but should prepare you to interact effectively and confidently with the professionals you’ll nee ...more
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven't started the daunting process of looking for a house yet, so I thought I'd read this book to get an idea on what the process involves, because I don't know a thing about how to buy a house! After reading this, I will say that I do have a much better idea of how to go about it, though it's still a lot of info to digest. I might need to hold on to this book for a while. I just hope my real estate agent knows what they're doing! But overall, I felt this is a good book to get me started, an ...more
Aug 08, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would definitely recommend this book. However, I think that the first and last few chapters are ridiculous. If you are at a point where you are thinking about actually buying a house, they aren't necessary (they include things like "consider neighborhoods" and "throw a house-warming"). Just skip them.

I thought that the middle chapters were a good reference, though, and addressed several issues I had not considered. I probably would have given this book four stars, but I used the Kindle version
Morgan Salvador
Jan 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the few books I bought (3rd edition) after having first read the library copy (2nd edition). The same information is presented in the 2nd and 3rd editions, but the latter is updated with current tax deduction information. Surprisingly, the newer edition also includes several before unseen references to the dangers of buying a previous meth lab house. (I guess this is a growing problem in some parts of the country...) The resource CD that accompanies the book is equally as helpful. ...more
Oct 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I only tried two books about home buying - for us, it was a whirlwind process that from "let's check out an open house on a whim" to ratified contract lasted a whopping 18 days - but this was definitely my preferred source. It's not quite as detailed as I would like, but still relatively thorough, even on the not exciting but important stuff like home inspections and what exactly is title insurance. I especially appreciated the calm and evenhanded tone. Once you get pulled into the excitement of ...more
Mar 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book!
Bobby ordered this after someone recommended it to him before moving to San Antonio. He asked if I would read it with him and to my dismay I agreed.
This book is so well written. The authors make it interesting to read and it is SO informative. I would have been totally lost buying my first home if I didn't have this as a foundation. I found myself wanting to read it like I would read a novel.

I recommend going through the book with a highlighter. I will probably read it again when buy
Sep 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone even thinking about buying a house
We're planning on buying a house next year, so I got this book from the library so I could get a head start on knowing what's involved and what we'll be getting ourselves into. After reading it, I feel so much less overwhelmed by the idea, and much more informed about the whole process - I can't even begin to say how much I learned from this book. I'd recommend it in a heartbeat to anyone thinking about buying a house, and I'll definitely be purchasing my own copy of the new edition when it come ...more
Candice Miller
Jan 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults
This book was a great start to my home-buying research. I came into this real estate game with no knowledge whatsover and this book gave me a great basis. It has a CD with helpful lists I printed off, and it has the most incredible websites referenced to help you with your individual search. I only wish it had a little more detail with regard to individual state's laws/practices. Overall I took pages of notes and it lead me to do hours of helpful research on Pittsburgh, our next destination.
Jul 06, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did a lot of flipping through home-buying books and first-time homebuyer books before choosing this one. No regrets at all with the choice--lots of great advice, real world examples (including mistakes) and practical lists. Highly recommended as a way to get familiar with all the intricacies of the homebuying process.

This book still sits on my nightstand--and probably will until I close on the house.
Dec 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I recommend this book to all first time home buyers! Even second time home buyers who might feel like things went over their head the first time. This book takes you through the entire house search journey. Each step is explained in easy to understand language. There are a lot of helpful checklists. It also helps you think of things to look for in houses that you may have overlooked. It is also up to date and talks about the recent housing craah. I am really glad I read this!
Oct 28, 2012 rated it liked it
The book seems to have offered a lot of valuable information, and I'm looking forward to putting it to use. On the flip side, there were several typos and grammatical errors, and when I see that kind of haphazard editing, it makes me question the reliability of the rest of the text. At the very least, those types of mistakes are downright irritating.
Wells Hamilton
This book is a very valuable resource for the first time home-buyer. It points out a myriad of legal, financial, and cultural pit-falls in buying a house that the first-time buyer probably wouldn't consider. I read this through once, took notes, and will return to chapters of it as necessary when I buy a house.
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before reading this book, I was terrified of beginning the process to buy a home: the process seemed overwhelmingly foreign. The book propelled me to actually start, and gave me most of the practical tools I needed to finish the process. I closed on a home today, and am grateful for this book having made everything more manageable.
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Ilona Bray is an author and legal editor at Nolo. She holds a professional doctorate in law and specializes in real estate, immigration law, workplace wellness and nonprofit fundraising. The author of a number of legal guides for Nolo, she is also a regular blogger for
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