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The Bookshelf

February 12, 1989

Reviews in this column do not imply endorsement of the books by The Times.

Office Tenant Moves and Changes by Alton J. Penz and Sandy Beard (Building Owners and Managers Assn. International, 1250 Eye St., N.W., Suite 200, Washington, D.C. 20005, $135 non-members of BOMA, $100 members) is a comprehensive study of 400 office tenants by the trade association. Some findings: Half the tenants have moved in the past three years; excessive noise is the greatest cause of productivity loss, and maintaining temperature levels remains the single most troubling performance issue. At any given time, 25% of the tenants surveyed are reviewing their office space situation. There is a wealth of data in this 69-page large-format book that just might justify the hefty price tag.

The Complete Homeseller's Kit by Edith Lank (Longman Financial Services Publishing, Chicago, 208 pages, $14.95) is a basic guide in non-technical language to the intricacies of selling a house--whether through an agent or by yourself. Lank is a syndicated real estate columnist who is also a New York state real estate licensee, so she's writing from the inside. She doesn't advocate selling a house without an agent--nor does she rule it out--but she points out the need for having a competent real estate lawyer if an agent is omitted. The book is indexed, contains a useful glossary of realty terms and has the usual financial tables and sample forms.

Sell Your Home Yourself and Save Thousands by Crystal A. Russell (Crystal A. Russell, 1875 Century Park East, Suite 1290, Los Angeles 90067, $29.95 plus $3 postage) is both a manual for fizbos (realtor jargon for those who try to sell their own houses, short for "for sale by owner") and a guide to negotiating a commission less than the typical 6% many brokers charge. Both an attorney and a real estate broker, Russell believes fizbos in particular need attorneys; she also believes that an experienced real estate attorney may be necessary in more transactions than most people believe. In nine out of 10 cases, an attorney will charge $300-$400 to examine a sales agreement or other papers, to make sure the wording is correct, she says. Only about 10% of those who sell their own houses can get by without an attorney, she believes. Russell points out that--unlike jurisdictions back East, where attorneys routinely represent each party in a realty closing--California transactions typically feature a broker who tries to serve both clients at the same time. She believes this is a legal impossibility, but admits that the prevalence of title insurance and escrow companies makes California and a few other Western states exceptions to the rules that prevail elsewhere. Sample forms and a glossary make the book a worthwhile investment, but an index would make it even more useful.

Finding and Buying Your Place in the Country by Les Scher, with Carol Scher (Collier Books/Macmillan Publishing Co., $19.95) is the revised and expanded edition of a book first published in 1974 that many reviewers felt was the best one-volume book on the subject of buying country property. Scher, an attorney who lives in Northern California, covers virtually everything you've ever wanted to know in this 566-page indexed monster of a book.

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