Book Review
Title: "The Foreclosure Survival Guide: Keep Your House or Walk Away With Money in Your Pocket"
Author: Stephen Elias
Publisher: Nolo Press, September 2009; 320 pages; $15.49.

I’m well aware that the majority of economists have long declared the recession over. But I also work with buyers, sellers and owners every single day, and the majority of real people are not feeling like they

Book Review
Title: "The Foreclosure Survival Guide: Keep Your House or Walk Away With Money in Your Pocket"
Author: Stephen Elias
Publisher: Nolo Press, September 2009; 320 pages; $15.49.

I’m well aware that the majority of economists have long declared the recession over. But I also work with buyers, sellers and owners every single day, and the majority of real people are not feeling like they’re out of the woods yet.

Many people who obtained and lived up to trial modification agreements under the Home Affordable Modification Program are getting word that their bank will not make the reduced payment permanent, and are feeling like it’s Groundhog’s Day – going through the déjà vu of foreclosure threats that they thought they were done with months ago.

In the mindset management work I’ve done with homeowners throughout this housing crisis, I’ve coached them to rethink foreclosure – from "the worst thing that could ever happen" to them to a not fun (but not fatal) legal proceeding, like a divorce from their home and lender that can be either healed or survived.

The best resources on the market for consumers going through legal proceedings who want to do some savvy self-help come from Nolo Press. So, it’s really no surprise that "The Foreclosure Survival Guide" by attorney Stephen Elias is so demystifying, accessible and up to date.

Elias’ approach is uber-reality based. He offers readers a very clear understanding of the foreclosure process, including all the stops along the way where you can exercise your legal rights as a homeowner in foreclosure or a bankruptcy debtor to delay or avoid foreclosure, attempt to have your loan modified, complete a short sale and/or obtain some monetary assistance from your lender with your move.

Along the way, he offers a number of concise, dilemma-resolving decision-making guides highlighting the desirability of these various courses of action (or lack thereof) for readers dealing with a variety of personal and financial situations.

For example, distressed homeowners might find the section on whether you can keep your house — and how that is different from whether you should keep your house — to be useful and allow them to make a decision that makes sense for their personal situation. …CONTINUED

Elias veers from the normal route of foreclosure guides, which is to speak to owners in the non-judicial foreclosure states only, as they are in the majority. Rather, he articulates which states are governed by judicial foreclosure and which are not, and provides guidance for all. He also avoids the dander-raising, us vs. them adversarial tone of other foreclosure guides in exchange for a fear-managing, panic-reducing voice.

Elias admonishes readers to “put fear and negativity aside as you assess your options to come up with the best choice for your circumstances,” then provides an orderly decision guide for selecting an option for how to leave your home, if that is your decision.

From there, Elias walks readers through how long they can expect to stay in their homes after they stop paying the mortgage, offers a deep resource guide for tools they can find outside of the book, and provides a useful glossary and state foreclosure law appendix.

What makes the book particularly useful and relevant are its constant updates, provided at Nolo.com. Given the rapidly changing pace of homeowner assistance programs and foreclosure defense laws, this book (updated in September) and its rich group of companion resources serve as every distressed homeowner’s do-it-yourself advocate through a tough process and tough time.

Tara-Nicholle Nelson is author of "The Savvy Woman’s Homebuying Handbook" and "Trillion Dollar Women: Use Your Power to Make Buying and Remodeling Decisions." Ask her a real estate question online or visit her Web site, www.rethinkrealestate.com.

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