JOHN RHODES has bought three properties since 1971. He now lives in a five-bedroom Edwardian house in Leeds with his wife Gaynor.

When life with "like-minded house mates began to pall" John knew it was time to go. Denying any Men Behaving Badly scenarios, he admits: "The mess was too awful for words." On his 27th birthday, he paid pounds 3,750 for a three-bedroom semi in Shrewsbury, where he worked as an agricultural adviser. After "envelope calculations", John found a tenant whose rent paid his pounds 33-a-month mortgage.

In 1972 John married Gaynor, and two years later celebrated his 30th birthday by selling their house for pounds 7,600. His career took him to Norwich, where they bought a three-bedroom property for pounds 11,700: "With a semi you get more for your money, and we wanted to settle down with our little family." They extended the kitchen and installed a much-needed second WC, which helped sell the house for pounds 31,100 in 1982, when he relocated to Leeds.

This final move saw them searching for a Victorian or Edwardian house with a large garden. Stopping to check their map in the northern suburbs one night, John saw a For Sale sign outside what appeared to be exactly the type of house they wanted.

Noticing the owner trimming his hedge, John convinced "the self-effacing Gaynor" that if the man wished to sell, he would agree to an impromptu viewing. He obliged, and for Gaynor it was love at first sight: "I kept dreaming about it, and imagining where we'd put the furniture."

They paid pounds 56,000 for the Edwardian house and, ignoring superstition, moved in on Friday the 13th. The four-storey home, with its 42 steps from cellar to attic, stands in a third of an acre of south-facing garden. They have lavished time and money on their home, replacing the roof and building a second garage, a new kitchen and a veranda, at a cost of around pounds 25,000.

"Our daughter insists we must never sell, as she wants to live here if we leave." Gaynor enthuses over the improvements to Leeds, including pavement cafes and Harvey Nichols where "they do nice tea". Leaving is not a consideration: "We love it here."

David Denby, a chartered surveyor, has worked in this part of Leeds for many years. He says: "Values of larger, older properties have not dropped in the last seven years."


1971: bought Sixties Shrewsbury semi for pounds 3,750. Sold for pounds 7,600.

1974: bought Fifties Norwich semi for pounds 11,700. Sold for pounds 31,100.

1982: bought 1904 five-bedroom Leeds house for pounds 56,000. Now worth pounds 250,000.

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