Andrew Allentuck

Friday, June 8, 2001

How to Buy a House with No (or Little) Money Down
by Martin M. Shenkman and Warren Boroson
John Wiley & Sons, 294 pages

Unlike the money mills that take advantage of folks who think they will get rich from mink ranches and underwater tourism, this book - which actually delivers on its title promise - is solid, legitimate, readable and actually interesting. The authors, lawyer Martin M. Shenkman and financial writer Warren Boroson, have compiled a manual of procedures that begins with the economics of ownership and ends with an exploration of tax treatment of certain ownership costs.

For a Canadian reader, the downside of the book is that it is heavily U.S.-centric. The authors discuss U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development issues, not procedures for Canada Mortgage and Housing. But the core of the book, the advice on how to get a house for no money down, transfers to Canada quite well.

Some tactics for buying with no money down: 1. lease to buy, 2. borrow from pension plans, 3. ask an employer for help, 4. for newlyweds, ask wedding guests for cash, and 5. get a real estate broker to defer collecting a commission and use that money, as a loan from the broker, to pay some of the down payment.

For a U.S. citizen or U.S. taxpayer resident in Canada, the book has many useful suggestions. Even for a Canadian with no U.S. connections, the authors' immensely intelligent discussions of home finance are worth reading. For the first time home buyer, How to Buy a House with No (or Little) Money Down is great read and a bargain too.