Solano Real Estate Scene: Single parent success story

“Doll” is now 92 and she became my client 25 years ago when I was 35 and she was 67. This is a true story. She was selling her Concord home and moving to the more affordable county of Solano. I found out through the pre-approval process that Doll was a retired, single senior with three successful, independent grown kids and a couple of grandkids. She divorced her verbally abusive husband in New York 25 years earlier and became a single parent. She took a clerical job with an insurance company and worked her way up to executive assistant to the vice president and became so valuable and appreciated that the boss offered her a job and a relocation package when they moved the headquarters from the East Coast to the Bay Area. Shortly after her big move, Doll bought a house in Concord in 1980. She remained a loyal employee, got promoted and retired from her company in 1992 with a $1,500 per month pension. She had built $150,000 equity in her Concord home and her IRA rollover value was $150,000. Her kids were now totally financially independent but being a child in the Great Depression and a very financially frugal and cautious person, she knew that even after her Social Security kicked in at $1,400 per month, that she might outlive her money. Doll is a ferociously independent woman who never inherited any wealth and lived on one income for 30 years and was committed to never needing help from her kids or the government. She sold her beloved Concord home and purchased a nicer home in Solano County for 30% less than her Concord home sale. She was able to put down $100,000 on the new home and bank tax-free $50,000 for reserves. Her new house payment PITI was only $1,200 per month, $200 less than her Concord payment. She sold her Vacaville home last year and moved into a one-bedroom senior living apartment for $3,600 per month to appease her three adult kids who were constantly worried about her living at home alone. She does not love it these days with the pandemic quarantine going on, but was starting to enjoy the Scrabble games with new friends and the cafeteria dining, which is now temporarily closed. She now has just enough income and bank balance to last her nine years without needing help from her three kids. I love Doll’s story because it shows how even a single parent who never made more than $50,000 in a year can achieve financial freedom. I love Doll and hope she makes it to 102 and outlives her money. The moral of this story is that her real estate purchases and equity growth helped set her up for life.