One Family's Property Story
PENNY DRAPER has bought three properties since 1982. She now lives in a four-bedroom house with her husband and son in Bexleyheath, Kent

Bexleyheath seems to hold a special charm for Penny - all her purchases have been within a mile of each other.

Buying their first home was inevitable: "Everyone was doing it so we went with the flow, we didn't dither." This first house was a two-up, two-down cottage which cost pounds 42,000: "We chose it because it was Victorian. It was nice, but freezing and infested with cockroaches."

The busy road made parking problematic but Penny devised an ingenious solution: "We bought a washing machine from the shop next door. They were so grateful they let us park in their private road."

After five years the favour wore thin and a growing son made their home feel small. The Drapers sold for pounds 57,000 and "decamped", literally down the road, to a new town house, which cost pounds 76,000. The extra space allowed Penny's husband the luxury of his own study. "He likes to while away the time on the computer and listen to Radio 4. A sad case," says Penny, who in turn found relative tranquillity "in the company of a teenager and deranged canine".

Ten years on, tranquillity became even more elusive: "People from the pub up the road would urinate and throw beer bottles in our garden." Did the Drapers devise another ingenious solution? "That's when my husband turned vigilante," says Penny. "Trying to persuade him not to lie camouflaged in the front garden on a Friday night was a weekly ritual."

In 1997, unable to stamp out crime, the Drapers sold for pounds 85,000 and bought another new property, again in beloved Bexleyheath, but this time a four-bedroom, detached house for pounds 171,000, which they spotted one night while out walking the dog. Their faithful pet misses the regular supply of chicken bones he enjoyed in his last garden, but otherwise the family are happily settled and eagerly awaiting the completion of their conservatory: "It suits us here. It lacks the social aspirations of Blackheath and Greenwich, and it's suburban and boring, but we love it."

Marni Humble, Halifax's area manager, has herself bought three properties in Bexleyheath and endorses Penny Draper's passion for the place: "I've never fallen foul of any price drops. It sounds sad but I can't imagine living anywhere else either."

THOSE MOVES IN BRIEF

1982 - bought two-up, two-down for pounds 42,000, sold for pounds 57,000.

1987 - bought three-bed town house for pounds 76,000, sold for pounds 85,000.

1997 - bought four-bed detached house for pounds 171,000, now worth pounds 200,000.

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