4. Real Estate Purchase

When I returned to society, in August of 2012, our nation was starting to emerge from the worst recession in our lifetime. In 2008 the stock market and the real estate market began to implode. Credit dried up. Housing prices fell to historic lows. By the fall of 2012, however, the economy looked poised to rebound. Carole and I wanted to participate in the potential upside.

To profit from an anticipated market rebound, I knew that Carole and I would need to control a larger asset base. If we could purchase a large asset, like a house, when prices were still relatively low, our equity would increase if housing prices recovered. Both of us wanted to purchase real estate. Our challenge was that we did not have sufficient credit to qualify for a house purchase in the conventional manner. We would need to create an alternative strategy. Fortunately, the seeds we began sowing prior to my release would help.

What were those seeds?

We began with a vision of what we wanted.

We set a plan. And we executed the plan.

Prior to my release from prison, Carole and I agreed on a solid plan on how we would build our future together, as a team. Since we knew that I’d be starting my career, we intended to count on Carole’s earnings as a registered nurse to provide the initial stability for our family. I anticipated that I would need about five years before I’d have a business that would completely sustain us. There would be many challenges, including working without compensation.

During my first five years of liberty, I expected to work at least 60 to 70 hours each week and travel routinely. By anticipating the demands of my schedule, along with the needs of our relationship, Carole and I agreed that we would need to find a program that would be fulfilling for her so she wouldn’t feel neglected when I was away. We began exploring opportunities for Carole to advance her nursing credentials.

Carole’s research led her to discover a program she could pursue at The University of San Francisco. She could earn a master’s degree in nursing by completing her coursework online while completing the clinical portion of her education at the hospital where she worked. This program would allow Carole to earn a master’s degree while she simultaneously earned an income that would be sufficient to support our family. Further, Carole’s busy schedule would bring her a sense of fulfillment while I focused on building my career and acclimating to society. As a team, we both would focus on the mutual goals we set.

Regardless of how much income we earned from our careers, we knew that we would need an investment plan. We were both approaching 50 years old. As a consequence of my lengthy imprisonment, and Carole’s commitment to stay by my side and support me throughout the journey, we didn’t have any savings for retirement. If we could find a way to purchase a house in 2012, we believed that house would appreciate in value over time. Owning real estate that would appreciate in value over time could contribute to our preparations for retirement. By owning appreciating assets in appreciating markets, we anticipated that we could build upon our security.

Prison rules precluded me from applying for any type of credit, including a mortgage, while I was in the halfway house. Instead of looking for conventional financing, I thought creatively. Carole and I had built a track record of success, and we intended to leverage our accomplishments by persuading others to believe in us—to see us for what we would become rather than for where we were.

 

Strengths and Weaknesses

To buy our first house, we considered our strengths and weaknesses. Our weakness was that we didn’t have a strong financial statement or credit score; our strength was that we had a plan and a history of executing our plans.

Since I’d been documenting my prison adjustment for decades, I could show that although I made bad decisions that sent me to prison, masterminds encouraged me to think about avatars. By contemplating what those avatars would expect of me, I created a plan to educate myself, to contribute to society, and to build a support network. After earning university degrees, I began publishing. Those publishing efforts generated an income that trickled in over the years. Rather than wasting those resources, Carole and I used them judiciously. We invested in her nursing education and we saved. As a consequence of those decisions, we could show savings of $85,000 when I returned to society. Further, we could show how Carole’s earnings would increase after she earned her master’s degree in nursing. Our solid plans, backed up with our history of accomplishment, persuaded others to believe in us. Even though we didn’t have the conventional track record to apply for a mortgage, we could find a way to purchase our first property.

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