Suppose you could know, before you buy a house, if it is structurally sound or hiding expensive surprises until after you close the purchase.

George Hoffman has written a handy book, How to Inspect a House (Dell Publishing Co., New York, 198 pages, $4.95, 1979) that tells all. It is short, straight to the point and filled with secret hints learned from the author's inspectons of over 3,500 homes for prospective buyers.

Abundantly illustrated with photos and drawings, this book explains in simple terms the things to check before buying a home. It has ample checklists so nothing will be forgotten during the inspection. The author even explains the significance of defects that looks serious but are of minor structural importance.

Topics discussed and illustrated include how houses are built, exterior inspection, interior quality tests, plumbing, fireplaces, wiring, heating, roof, foundation and soil, termite reports, and even how to make a purchase offer. This book is very-up-to-date, too. It includes discussions of solar heat, burglar alarms, heat exchangers and a special chapter condominiums.

Whether you are buying your first home or your umpteenth or if you are a professional real estate investor, this little book should be invaluable help to find out what you are buying and to drive the best bargain possible for its purchase.

Most books about how to sell your home are a waste of time. But Selling Your Home, by Carolyn Janik (Macmillan, New York, 186 pages, 1980, $8.95) is not. Most lead the seller down the primrose path of selling a home, often without the aid of a real estate agent, without warning of the pitfalls. But not this one.

This book's approach is different. Although written by a real estate agent, it explains how to demand and get full money's worth out of an agent. It also explains lots of things real estate agents never tell home sellers, often because they do not know these secrets themselves.

Topics covered include the different motivations of home sellers, how to set the asking price correctly, how to prepare the home for sale, listing it, negotiation strategy, details of the closing and a bonus chapter "Double Jeopardy" about buying a home the right way.

However, some of the sales procedures mentioned in the book, such as using a binder contract and hiring an attorney to draw up the sales contract, are not nationally used procedures. So the reader is cautioned that local home sale procedures may be different from those in the book.

This enjoyable, entertaining, and educational handbook for selling your home is loaded with examples of mistakes to avoid when selling your home. Janik has done an excellent job of writing a book that teaches by example, instead of saying "do this" and "don't do that." Not only is the book pleasurable reading but it can be very profitable, too.