Property: Stepping Stones

One man's property story

ALLAN CHAMBERS began buying back in 1962 "almost by chance". He borrowed pounds 150 from his mother-in-law and made an offer on a newly built maisonette: "I later found that I had the wrong address and had made an offer for an entirely different site." This property turned out to be "perfectly OK" and Allan's offer, pounds 3,150, was accepted.

1964 took him to Holland for work. He kept his flat but on returning decided on a bigger purchase: "I rather rashly put in an offer for a pounds 6,000, four-storey Edwardian property in Greenwich which needed considerable renovation." A "capable and very intelligent plumber" advised on repairs and estimated that profits from Allan's sale at pounds 4,800 would cover them.

Initially renovation proved to be taxing: "I'd never hung a piece of wallpaper and started on the top landing which was 14 feet long." After many "trials and tribulations", including nailing a carpet to central heating pipes, the work was complete and in 1974 Allan sold for pounds 17,000.

His next buy was on the other side of Greenwich Park and cost pounds 19,500. The five bedroomed semi held further renovation challenges which Alan's "gang" rose to. Three years later he sold for pounds 38,000, a decision which proved unprofitable: "I've recently seen the house advertised for pounds 462,000."

Allan bought "Railway Cuttings" in Blackheath for pounds 17,000 and an East Sussex country cottage "desperately needing renovation" for pounds 14,000: "By now I was getting better at repair works". Sadly the cost of these plus "sky-high mortgages" led him to sell the cottage in 1979 for pounds 37,500.

In order to be nearer his son's school he sold Railway Cuttings for pounds 58,000 and bought a 1930s detached house in nearby Lee Green for pounds 63,000. After a spell abroad Allan tried to sell at the peak of the boom in the late Eighties: "We were offered pounds 172,000 but the would-be purchaser withdrew."

They stayed for a few more years eventually deciding to move to central London. By 1983 the sale price had slumped to pounds 135,000, but pounds 120,000 secured them a leasehold flat on the South Bank. Allan has no regrets: "At times I envy the Greenwich property now on at pounds 462,000, but we certainly enjoy central London life, with views of St Paul's from the patio."

Ginetta Vedrickas

Those moves in brief

1962 - bought maisonette for pounds 3,150, sold for pounds 4,800. 1968 - bought Greenwich terrace for pounds 5,950, sold for pounds 17,000.

1974 - bought Greenwich semi for pounds 19,500, sold for pounds 38,000.

1977 - bought Blackheath terrace for pounds 17,000 (sold in 1983 for pounds 58,000) and Sussex cottage for pounds 14,000, sold in 1979 for pounds 37,500.

1983 - bought 1930s house in Lee Green for pounds 63,000, sold for pounds 135,000.

1994 - bought South Bank flat for pounds 120,000, now worth over pounds 200,000.

If you would like your moves to be featured write to: Ian Griffiths, Stepping Stones, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. pounds 100 will be awarded for the best story printed by 30 Sept

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