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Saving Three Homes At Risk

I own three homes. One I was renting, another is for sale, and the third I would like to keep. What are my best options?

I have three homes. One I was renting and the tenant broke the lease and moved out the same day I signed papers for the third home. It was on condition that I was renting that I even got that mortgage. The second home I was going to rent but it all fell apart after the tenants took me to court on trivial issues and kept me from doing anything with the property as there was a non-habitable posting on it until matters were cleared up. I want to keep the third house as it is the final "retirement" home for me. I have heard too many conflicting options on what to do. I would like to throw up my hands and walk away but I'm afraid the banks will come after me some years down the road to make up the difference. I have the one home for sale well below market with no takers, looking for that short sale. First, do I need an attorney for this? Can I handle it all as it comes up with out one? Second, can the banks make me do something with the third house, like sell it first? I am so totally lost here, even after speaking with 4 attorneys as they all say something different.

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Bill's Answer
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The best solution to protecting your homes depends greatly on your state of residence, as state laws regarding property and foreclosures vary greatly from state to state. An experienced attorney licensed in your state should be able to tell you what options, such as a loan modification, short sale, or even bankruptcy, may be available to assist you in resolving your mortgage issues. They could also help you with possible actions against your bad tenants. Given the complexity of the financial difficulties you are facing, I strongly encourage you do consult with a lawyer rather than trying to face all of this on your own.

You mention that you have meet with four attorneys and are unsure which one to listen to. Finding the right lawyer is important, so here are some tips on finding a good attorney:

  1. Get referrals from friends and professional associates you trust.
  2. Contact the state bar association: It will have a referral service, and you can also ask if a particular lawyer you're interested in is in good standing with them.
  3. Ask for references: Politely ask the attorney if you could talk to people who could comment on the lawyer's abilities and reputation.
  4. Take a look at the attorney's brochures and Web site: Crosscheck these materials against other sources and references.
  5. Go online: Further checking can be done using the internet. Start by doing a simple Google search of the attorney you're interested in and see what comes up.
  6. Ask any attorney you are thinking of hiring about the level of specialization and experience they have regarding matters such as yours.
  7. The price: be sure they are clear about their rate schedule and factor that against your needs and budget.

I wish you the best of luck in resolving this difficult situation, and I hope that the information I have provided helps you Find. Learn. Save.

Best,

Bill

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