The book is logically structured around the typical way in which consumers look at houses that may become their homes. It begins by showing them how to identify homes that might meet their needs, whether it be through a drive-by, through consultation with a real estate agent, or by viewing an on-line real estate website. The book then guides readers through the first visit to an open house showing, teaching them how to spot structural or mechanical problems that might be deal killers-as well as problems that are easily fixable.
Next, the book shows readers how to investigate the history of the home with a variety of methods: examining building permit records and tax assessments, and through conversations with the owners and neighbors. Next comes the second visit, which provides an opportunity for in-depth inspection of all aspects of the home, from basement to attic, from the paint to the plumbing. Here, the reader looks inside the furnace, behind the walls, into the pipes and wiring to make sure the home doesn't harbor any unpleasant secrets. Last, there is the final visit, in which a prospective buyer makes one more walkthrough before signing a purchase agreement.
Additional chapters show readers how to investigate for health hazards, such as lead paint, radon gas, fungus, and carbon monoxide; how to evaluate the quality of newly built spec homes; and how to evaluate the neighborhood and community.
Extended sidebars, entitled "If You're Selling" are found in every section, giving readers who are preparing their homes for sale dozens of helpful tips on how to do it properly, so that it can be shown at open house to best effect. This can be especially helpful for readers taking the FSBO (For Sale by Owner) option.