Property: Stepping Stones: one woman's property story

ELIZABETH ROBERTS' story has a moral: "It is not worth moving house a lot to make a profit - it can be made equally well by staying put."

In 1959, the former stewardess married her airline-pilot husband, and their wedding present from his mother was a four-bedroomed detached house in Whitton, near Twickenham in west London, which cost pounds 3,000. Finding Whitton "stultifying", they sold, nine months later, for pounds 4,000, and for pounds 3,500 bought a chalet bungalow in Sunbury.

After their first child was born, they sold for pounds 5,000 and bought a new detached house in Chertsey. A second baby in 1963 prompted the decision to sell for pounds 13,000 and, for pounds 6,000, buy a double-fronted house with magnificent hall and staircase back in Sunbury. However in 1964 "my husband returned from New York, announced he had fallen in love with a stewardess and was leaving". Ignoring her solicitor, Elizabeth and her children stayed put.

Elizabeth than hired "a handsome man, a student teacher" to babysit. "Two weeks later I was in love." The Sunbury house sold for pounds 10,000, and, for pounds 4,000, they bought a leasehold terrace in Strawberry Hill. After another baby they sold for pounds 15,000 and bought a pounds 22,000 house in Teddington.

In 1972, having sold for pounds 32,000, they moved into a four-bedroomed house in Sunbury for pounds 36,000. In 1980, Elizabeth took a job in Godalming, Surrey, with a stableman's cottage at a peppercorn rent. They made pounds 30,000 on their Sunbury house and bought the cottage with 12 acres for pounds 60,000. They are considering a final move to be nearer their grandchildren - and expect to sell for pounds 500,000.

But Elizabeth warns: "We could have stayed put anywhere and ended up the same!"


1959 pounds 3,000 detached sold for pounds 4,000; 1960 bought chalet for pounds 3,500, sold for pounds 5,000; 1962 bought new detached house for pounds 6,100, sold for pounds 13,000; 1965 bought house for pounds 6,000, sold for pounds 10,000; 1966 bought leasehold terrace for pounds 4,000, sold for pounds 15,000 freehold; 1968 bought town house for pounds 22,000, sold for pounds 32,000; 1972 bought detached house for pounds 36,000, sold for pounds 65,000; 1980 bought bungalow for pounds 32,000, sold for pounds 32,000;1983 bought cottage for pounds 60,000, now worth pounds 500,000.

If you would like to be featured write to: Nic Cicutti, Stepping Stones, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. pounds 100 will be awarded for the best story printed by 31 June.