Property: Stepping Stones one woman's property story

NURSERY MANAGER Hazel Taylor has bought four properties since 1979. She now lives in a Victorian three-bedroom house in Sidcup, Kent with her daughter Rachel.

Getting married prompted Hazel Taylor to take on another commitment, a house which she bought in 1979 for pounds 25,250. She was renting a flat in Kennington, south London, but wanted to live nearer her family so chose a 1930's end of terrace in Blackfen, Kent. The Taylors were fortunate. They got a low rate mortgage, Hazel's husband worked in a bank, and quickly found somewhere they liked: "It was before things took off, prices were low and there was a lot of choice."

The three-bedroom terrace was in good condition but they knocked out some walls and created more space. It was fine for a couple but in 1982 Rachel was born, prompting them to find somewhere "with larger room sizes".

In 1985 they sold for pounds 45,000, and bought "literally around the corner" for pounds 43,000. "We'd had no intention of staying locally and were looking as far afield as Tonbridge but my father-in-law told me about the house which we saw and liked."

The semi-detached house, although of a similar period, "had more potential", with its spacious rooms and garage and the family lived happily there for 10 years. They didn't outgrow the house but the time came to stretch themselves: "We were approaching 40 so it was now or never if we were to get a 20-year mortgage before we were 60."

In 1995, they sold for pounds 82,000 and, with an eye for investment, bought a 1920s semi-detached house in Petts Wood, Kent, for pounds 140,000. This house had larger rooms and the period features - big bay windows, fireplaces and coving - that Hazel loves.

"It was the house I thought we'd live in forever." Sadly it was not to be and a year later, their decision to divorce meant another move.

In the heart of commuter land, 10 minutes from the station and near the M5, the popular area meant a quick sale, at pounds 152,000, for the Taylors. Hazel made a discovery: "Our purchasers tried to buy the house a year before but we'd beaten them to it."

Now searching for a house for herself and Rachel, there were new priorities. "Being on my own I wanted somewhere that was easy to maintain but with features and a decent-sized bedroom for Rachel like the one she'd left."

In January 1997, Hazel bought a Victorian, three-bedroom house for pounds 78,000 in the area she grew up in, Sidcup, Kent. The fully-renovated house has sanded floors and is painted white throughout. Local agent Julian Curry of Andrews says the popular area is "filled with good, solid housing stock" and estimates Hazel's house is worth pounds 110,000.

THOSE MOVES IN BRIEF

1979 - bought terraced 1930s house for pounds 25,250. Sold for pounds 45,000.

1985 - bought three bedroom semi for pounds 43,000. Sold for pounds 82,000.

1995 - bought 1920s Petts Wood house for pounds 140,000. Sold for pounds 152,000.

1997 - bought Victorian house for pounds 78,000 now worth pounds 110,000.

If you would like your home moves to be featured in Stepping Stones, please write to Nic Cicutti, Stepping Stones, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5DL.

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