Property: Stepping Stones - One Woman's Property Story

SINCE 1954 Maureen Taylor has bought 10 properties. She was just 18 when she bought a chalet bungalow in her native Newcastle: "I don't know what gave me the idea; I came from a family that had never bought anything in their lives." She paid pounds 1,000 - "a lot of money in those days" for a family with a weekly income of pounds 9 - and moved in after getting married.

She lived there for eight years and then sold it for pounds 1,500 and bought a new house on Newcastle's outskirts, an estate in Chapelhouse. In 1972, she and her husband sold for pounds 4,000 and bought a stone house with a quarter of an acre overlooking the river. "It was a lovely house, but in 1978 we split up and sold." Maureen's share was pounds 13,000 and it was then that she "started the hard climb" herself. With two daughters to support, she decided to buy a terraced house for pounds 8,000, leaving her with some spare cash.

After the girls left home, Maureen "took a big jump" and bought a new detached house in Ponteland, "the best area in Newcastle". When she needed to raise some money, she sold for pounds 45,000 and rented while she looked around. Here she recalls a big mistake: "I went on holiday to Torremolinos and ended up buying a studio from a tout. As soon as I signed I knew I'd made a mistake."

Her impulse buy took years to sell, and at a great loss, but Maureen then made a canny move: "I saw the boom beginning in London so I bought a studio in Richmond for pounds 36,000 which I rented out to cover the mortgage." She then moved to London and lived in the studio for three months before selling for pounds 66,500. She bought a flat in Twickenham but sold up and moved back north to look after her parents.

There she paid pounds 17,500 for "the cheapest house I could" in a Durham mining village, and gutted and renovated it. Prices were slowly rising, and she sold for pounds 30,000 when she returned to London in 1993. She bought a terraced house in Hampton for pounds 54,000 and still lives there.

Having moved more than most, would she do so again? "I'm surprised I've stayed so long, but I'd move downmarket and cash in if the price were right," Maureen advises.

THOSE MOVES

IN BRIEF

1954 - bought bungalow for pounds 1,000, sold for pounds 1,500.

1965 - bought new house for pounds 2,000, sold for pounds 4,000.

1972 - bought house for pounds 6,000, sold for pounds 26,000.

1978 - bought house for pounds 8,000, sold for pounds 16,000.

1983 - bought house in Ponteland for pounds 34,000, sold for pounds 45,000.

1985 - bought studio in Torremolinos for pounds 20,000 and Richmond flat for pounds 36,000, sold for pounds 66,500.

1988 - bought Twickenham flat for pounds 86,000, sold for pounds 78,000.

1990 - bought cottage for pounds 17,500, sold for pounds 30,000.

1993 - bought Hampton house for pounds 54,000, now worth pounds 120,000.

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