Property: Stepping Stones

One Couple's Property Story

"A GREAT deal has happened to us, not only property-wise," says Janet Midlane, who has bought six properties in her time and who warns: "Stepping stones can be slippery."

Finding sharing with a stranger to be an odd experience, Janet decided in 1982 that it would be easier and cheaper to buy. She got a 100-per- cent mortgage and paid pounds 19,950 for a first-floor, two-bedroom flat in Watford. Training as a careers adviser meant a great deal of travelling, so the following July she sold for pounds 26,950, and rented a flat in Weymouth, Dorset.

She and her fiance David bought a small cottage for pounds 29,950, which was "cold but full of character". After getting married in 1986, they sold it for pounds 36,000.

They then bought a 300-year-old, two-bedroom cottage for pounds 40,000, which they considered expensive but loved for its garden and views: "Here began our DIY in earnest, carrying out minor repairs and restoring it to its former glory."

After "getting the bug", they decided to sell at the tail end of the boom for "the magnificent sum of pounds 75,000", and paid pounds 60,000 for an unmodernised cottage and barn in Dorset which had no toilet, and a bath in the kitchen. They lived in a caravan while they and their builders struggled to create a home - surviving winter mud, summer dust, wet and cold.

"We spent our wedding anniversary cutting stone," recalls Janet.

The improvements cost pounds 40,000, plus a record collection sold to pay for a kitchen, but worse was to come. On what Janet calls "Black Wednesday" David fell from a ladder and broke his neck.

"People kept saying how lucky he was, but it didn't feel like it at the time," she says. David recovered, but the couple feared the house was unlucky, so in 1992 they decided to sell. Again they were told how lucky they were, this time by an estate agent, when they got a "disappointing pounds 95,000" for the ill-fated house.

Admitting to "panic buying" a Thirties bungalow for pounds 70,000, which cost pounds 12,000 to refurbish, they got their money back when they sold for pounds 86,500 three years later.

For pounds 79,000, Janet and David then found their "ideal home"; a detached, four-bedroom, 300-year-old cottage, again in Dorset and with a "reasonable amount of work to get our teeth into". Sadly, builders later found "the best-built thing in the place was a wasps' nest".

Some pounds 30,000 later, they had a fantastic house but no money or carpets. A job with accommodation in Derbyshire meant another move so they sold (a year after it went on the market at pounds 125,000) for pounds 92,500. After being made redundant in August 1998, the Midlanes have "taken the money and run" to a rented cottage in Cornwall. They are considering buying again but will "think carefully" before doing so. In spite of their love of old buildings, they are not risking any more ladders: "This time we're going to buy something modern."

Ginetta Vedrickas

Those moves in brief:

1982 - bought flat for pounds 19,950, sold for pounds 26,950.

1985 - bought terrace for pounds 29,950, sold for pounds 36,000.

1986 - bought terrace end for pounds 40,000, sold for pounds 75,000.

1989 - bought "ruin" for pounds 60,000, sold for pounds 95,000.

1992 - bought bungalow for pounds 70,000, sold for pounds 86,500.

1995 - bought four-bed detached for pounds 79,000, sold for pounds 92,000 in 1998.

If you would like your moves to be featured write to: Nic Cicutti, Stepping Stones, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. pounds 100 will be awarded for the best story printed by 31 March

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

    £13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

    £16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

    Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Support Engineer

    £20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Support Engi...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence