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Book Review

'Dummies' Mortgage Guide Only Tells Part of the Story

May 02, 1999|ROBERT J. BRUSS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

"Mortgages for Dummies" by Eric Tyson and Ray Brown (IDG Books, Foster City, Calif.), 1999, $16.99, 203 pages.

*

Disappointing. Incomplete. Inadequate. Those words describe Eric Tyson and Ray Brown's latest real estate book, "Mortgages for Dummies." Fresh from their success writing two excellent "dummies" books for home buyers and sellers, these authors apparently thought they could crank out another formula book. They couldn't.

Unfortunately, neither author knows much about mortgages. There are far better "how to get a mortgage" books available. Obviously, the authors haven't read them.

For instance, the authors don't even mention the annual percentage rate standard for evaluating one mortgage against another. Neither did they include a basic chart comparing the history of adjustable rate mortgage indexes nor indicate which index they think is best.

To make matters worse, the publisher--apparently to hype book sales--quoted my glowing remarks and rating of a previous book by the same authors. It's printed on the cover of this mediocre book.

However, the book is not without some redeeming qualities. The chapter about reverse mortgages is excellent. The explanations of reverse mortgage pros and cons are very complete. Although the authors list FHA and Fannie Mae as the two nationwide reverse mortgage lenders, however, they neglect to mention Financial Freedom Plan as a lender originating jumbo reverse mortgages in most Western states.

This is a very basic book about how to get a mortgage, thereby living up to its title. The explanations of how to shop for a mortgage on the Internet are especially weak. Few Web sites are listed. The locations of major Internet lenders--such as Countrywide.com, Homeshark.com and Quickenmortgage.com--aren't even mentioned. Only one Internet lender is mentioned. Also lacking is any mention of mortgage bankers, although mortgage brokers get a big play. The pros and cons of going direct to a bank, savings and loan, finance company or mortgage banker versus dealing with a mortgage broker are completely missing.

The authors didn't put enough time or research into this quickie book. Their lack of practical mortgage lending experience shows.

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