“The Complete Guide to Investing in Foreclosures” by Steve Berges is not just another book about how to buy and profit from foreclosure properties. This one is different because it reveals important but little-known foreclosure facts, such as how to locate and buy FHA-HUD foreclosures in virtually any county, how to invest in and finance VA foreclosures, and how to estimate the profit potential for each foreclosure purchase.
Author Steve Berges is owner of a home-building firm that builds new houses and renovates foreclosure properties. He strives to earn at least a 20 percent profit on each foreclosure house his firm acquires, so he emphasizes both buying at the right price and then reselling with an adequate profit. His goal is to buy, renovate and resell 35 to 40 foreclosures per year.
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The book begins by explaining the opportunities and the possible pitfalls of acquiring houses in the foreclosure process. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, approximately 4 percent of all home loans are delinquent and about 1.1 percent of mortgages are in the foreclosure legal process. Another way of looking at the situation, the author explains, is one out of every 22 home loans is delinquent.
Berges says this creates plenty of opportunities for those willing to learn foreclosure procedures and, depending on each defaulting homeowner’s situation, the best time to buy houses. The book is unique because the author explains the best way to acquire foreclosure and distress property profitably is often by taking title “subject to” its existing mortgage, renovating the house, and then either refinancing or selling.
Heavy emphasis is placed on understanding both the judicial and non-judicial foreclosure procedures, depending on which is used in the reader’s state. A chart shows whether mortgages or deeds of trust are predominantly used in each state.
The author explains the pros and cons of purchasing foreclosures at each step during the procedure. He recommends never leasing the house back to the seller. “Instead, give sellers the boot,” Berges advises.
After explaining the four foreclosure procedure opportunities, the book shifts to very specific details of acquiring FHA-HUD foreclosures, VA repos, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac defaults, and conventional foreclosures.
Berges explains acquiring title subject to an existing mortgage is not illegal (as some uninformed real estate writers say) but it can be a breach of contract with the seller if the buyer defaults. A unique technique I have not seen elsewhere is the “double lease option” to conserve the investor’s cash.
However, the book is not perfect. The publisher should have edited more carefully to break up the extremely long paragraphs which make very difficult reading. Shorter paragraphs would have made for much easier understanding of the author’s excellent but sometimes detailed explanations.
The book has another fault. It is too short. The author obviously must have many personal examples he could have inserted throughout the book to illustrate his topics, such as acquiring “subject to” an existing mortgage and how both he and the seller benefited by curing the foreclosure and repairing the seller’s credit. At the end of the book, there are a few examples, but not nearly enough to break up the sometimes-boring explanations in those huge long paragraphs.
Chapter topics include “Fundamentals of the Foreclosure Process”; “Buyer Beware! Seven Caveats of Investing in Foreclosures”; “How to Invest in the Pre-Foreclosure Stage”; “How to Invest in the Auction/Trustee Sale Stage”; “How to Invest in the Redemption Period Stage”; “How to Invest in the Post-Foreclosure Stage”; “HUD, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and VA Foreclosures”; “Acquisition Through Lead Generation”; “Five Conventional Techniques to Finance Your Foreclosures”; “Four High-Leverage Techniques to Finance Your Foreclosures”; and “How to Market and Sell Your Property Like a Professional.”
If you are serious about acquiring profitable foreclosure properties, this book is required reading because it offers details not found in most other foreclosure books. Although it can be difficult reading, due to the bad editing and long paragraphs, the book’s superb content triumphs and, on my scale of one to 10, earns a solid 10.
“The Complete Guide to Investing in Foreclosures,” by Steve Berges (AMACOM-American Management Association, New York), 2006, $17.95; 184 pages; Available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries, and www.amazon.com.
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