Home Buyers: Lambs to the Slaughter? by Sloan Bashinsky (Menasha Ridge Press, Hillsborough, N.C., 115 pages, $10.95 hard cover)
The fact that the author is both a lawyer and a real estate broker gives a slant to this book different from most "how to buy a house" books written by real estate agents. It also gives plenty of scope to his cut-through-the-appearances approach and his wicked wit.
Bashinsky makes a strong point of the fact that the real estate agent, even the one you have "retained," is not working for you; the fact that his commission comes from the seller means that he is working for the seller and is legally bound to put the seller's interest before yours.
That view underlies the whole book, which discusses the legal, ethical and practical positions of your adversaries--all who are involved and concerned in the transaction--even "your" real estate agent. He combines this with practical suggestions on how to protect yourself in the clinches, including suggestions for putting yourself in the strongest possible negotiating position and then negotiating strongly.
Reading this book, and others on the same subject, written from a national viewpoint for a national audience, gives the Californian reader a feeling that, although they are very far from perfect, our state's real estate laws are a lot more protective of the public than most.
Even so, there are plenty of pieces of information in it that apply in California--particularly the fact of who "your" agent is really working for--both as things worth knowing, as traps to avoid and as ways to protect yourself. It is not very long and can be read quickly but the author's writing ability packs a lot in a little space.
A valuable book if you are buying a house or even thinking about buying one.