Don’t be misled by the first few chapters of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buying Foreclosures” by Bobbi Dempsey and Todd Beitler. The early chapters explain the foreclosure basics and are downright dull. But about the fifth chapter, the pace picks up, the authors become less formal, and the book gathers momentum.

Having written many times about foreclosure pros and cons, I understand it is a difficult topic because the state laws are inconsistent. The authors must explain the foreclosure basics without getting bogged down in unusual state foreclosure laws.

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Overall, Dempsey and Beitler do a credible job of slogging through the fundamentals. Gradually, they start sharing examples of their own as well as from foreclosure specialists around the nation. Those examples make the book especially practical.

To illustrate, especially useful is the eviction scenario told by Ward Hanigan, a California buyer of more than 300 foreclosures, who explains how he confronts borrowers who lost their homes after he purchased them at foreclosure auctions. His eight-step procedure is designed to get the borrowers to move out voluntarily without a court eviction by emphasizing the benefits to them of a friendly move with no damage to the house.

Toward the book’s conclusion, Dempsey and Beitler open up and show their ability to handle potential problems, such as buying a house “subject to” its existing mortgage, pros and cons of lease-options, wholesaling or flipping properties, and even comments on real estate gurus. The book’s last (and best) chapter is filled with “case studies” from foreclosure specialists sharing their experiences.

If the book has a theme, in the early chapters it is the basic “nuts and bolts” explanations of the three foreclosure profit opportunities: pre-foreclosure purchases, buying at the foreclosure auction, and buying after the auction from the foreclosing lender. But the theme changes toward the book’s conclusion into one of practical advice with lots of problem-solving suggestions for foreclosure property investors.

Chapter topics include “Foreclosures 101”; “Why Foreclosures Occur”; “How It Works”; “How Lenders and Agencies View Foreclosures”; “Benefits and Opportunities”; “Pitfalls and Disadvantages”; “Important Pre-Purchase Issues”; “Finding Foreclosed Properties”; “Buying Pre-Foreclosures”; “Buying at Auction”; “Buying Bank Foreclosures and REOs”; “Government Properties”; “Financing Your Purchase”; “Details”; “Maintenance and Home Improvement”; “Holding On to the Property” and “Selling Your Property for a Profit.”

Although the book’s first dull chapters set the foreclosure stage, be aware they aren’t very exciting. But after the foreclosure basics are explained, the book’s pace picks up, and the chapters become downright practical and profitable toward the conclusion. On my scale of one to 10, this excellent book rates a solid 10.

“The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buying Foreclosures,” by Bobbi Dempsey and Todd Beitler (Alpha-Penguin Group, New York), 2005, $18.95, 268 pages; Available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries, and www.amazon.com.

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