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A superb, practical guide to home buying

(ran HC, HS, HL)

The 106 Common Mistakes Homebuyers Make (And How to Avoid Them, Second Edition, by Gary W. Eldred (John Wiley and Sons, New York), 1998, $14.95, 273 pages. Available in stock or by order at bookstores and libraries.

Author Gary W. Eldred is known for his Stop Renting Now seminars. He's not exactly an impartial author. His positive, enthusiastic prejudice for home ownership comes through loud and clear in his new book. There are lots of "how to buy a home" books available, but this is among the best.

The author takes the approach that failing to buy is the biggest mistake renters make. He explains at least 50 ways renters can buy a home even when they are "cash challenged." This up-to-date book even explains Internet resources and other home-buyer helps.

Eldred has taught real estate at Stanford, the University of Illinois and the University of Virginia. He is executive director of the National Initiative for Home Ownership. As a result of his experiences, he shares many examples of home buyer mistakes and how to avoid them. These true stories add greatly to the book's usefulness.

This lively book is concisely written. The author weaves his experiences into his solutions on how to avoid home buyer mistakes, but the best chapter is the last one. It offers 50 ways to buy when you're short of cash. Not every method will work with every home, but all you need is one that's acceptable to you and the seller.

Each year a very few real estate books come along that cannot be recommended too highly. This is one of those outstanding new books. On my scale of one to 10, this book rates an off-the-chart 12.

Robert J. Bruss is a nationally syndicated columnist on real estate.