The real estate crisis in the U.S. may have hit its nadir several years ago, but many American homeowners still face the prospect of losing their homes. This compact guide, written by the chief operating officer of a law firm that specializes in helping homeowners who are struggling with their mortgages, offers an overview of what led to the recent foreclosure meltdown, as well as concrete advice on the options available to those who can no longer pay what they owe on their home loans. Prentice, whose personal experience with foreclosure (his father lost his home in 2006) led him to his current career, clearly sides with homeowners against the big banks, though, he says, “We all need to take an objective step back and assume a little responsibility” when it comes to financial decisions. He also contends that “There aren’t many good books available for homeowners looking to defend themselves against foreclosure,” another fact that inspired him to write his first book. Overall, his focus here is on explaining legal strategies—such as contesting foreclosure or “cash for keys” agreements—that a homeowner can use to delay foreclosure and stay in his or her home longer, or even keep the property. Even if a homeowner eventually loses the property, the delay affords time to get finances in order and plan the next move. In the book’s final section, Prentice proposes solutions that he believes could help avoid another meltdown in residential real estate, particularly the creation of public banks, which would give local jurisdictions more control over lending in their areas. That particular idea may be far-fetched, but overall, Prentice’s advice is solid. While a few miscues distract, such as his claim that we’re facing “massive inflation”—never mind that inflation rates have been at historic lows in recent years—they’re not terrible egregious. By far, the most useful sections of the book, however, are the appendices, which include an overview of foreclosure laws in every state, a glossary of real estate terms, lists of identified “robosigners” and foreclosure mills, and several case studies that illustrate both the failures and successes of homeowners trying to contest foreclosure.
A basic primer for homeowners in a tough spot.