One Couple's Property Story
CAROL AND ALAN Dougherty bought their first house in 1978 shortly after graduating. Their mortgage was based on Carol's earnings alone as Alan still had to find his first teaching post. The house they fell in love with was a two-bedroomed Victorian terrace in a village near the Mendip Hills: "It had an extraordinarily long garden and we had visions of The Good Life," remembers Carol.

They paid pounds 7,500 for the "fairly tattered" property and set about renovation, doing much of the work themselves. They were careful to restore the house's Victorian features but ruthless in their treatment of later additions: "We removed less quaint commodities such as a ghastly pre-war WC and indoor drainage system across the kitchen floor."

Their renovation efforts also brought them into conflict with their lenders: "We fell out with them more than once as they wanted us to convert a lovely old interior to resemble the inside of any modern estate house. We stuck to our guns and finished up with a house full of character."

Hannah was born in 1985 and in May 1986 they sold their first house for pounds 38,000 and bought a larger Victorian semi in the same village for pounds 35,000. They liked the extra space but there was a drawback: "We found the smaller garden rather frustrating."

Three years later, Alan was offered a teaching post in the market town of Barnard Castle where "there really is a castle", so they put their house on the market and sold, within weeks, for pounds 92,000: "We were very pleased, although 18 months earlier it had been worth pounds 20,0000 more."

The family went to view a three-storey Victorian detached house in a Teesdale village four miles from Barnard Castle. The garden was overgrown but had "magnificent" views from the top floor: "The house felt welcoming and we liked practically everything about it."

Carol and Alan "happily" paid pounds 85,000 for the house in which they still live and where their daughter now monopolises the top floor as her flat. Ten years later its value has increased to more than pounds 100,000 producing modest profits compared with their last sale. Are they worried? "Not at all. We look out of our windows and hear only sheep - a real plus. In financial terms, we may have made a one-way move, because prices in the North still lag behind the South, but it's the best move we've made."

Those moves in brief

1978 - bought two-bedroomed house in the Mendip Hills for pounds 7,500, sold for pounds 38,000.

1986 - bought larger Victorian semi for pounds 35,000, sold for pounds 92,000.

1989 - bought detached house in Teesdale for pounds 85,000, now worth more than pounds 100,000.

If you would like your moves to be featured write to: Nic Cicutti, Stepping Stones, `The Independent',One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. pounds 100 will be paid for the best story printed by 30 September