`It just felt like time was right'

For eight years Trisha Templeton, 48, a personnel officer, and her husband dreamed of moving from Croydon to a home closer to his work. But only this year did they feel confident enough to put their house on the market.

Although the Templetons bought their three-bedroom house a decade ago, just before the 1980s boom that left an army of homeowners floundering in negative equity, they watched the market plummet to desperate levels and kept postponing the move.

Mrs Templeton said: "We'd been thinking about it for years, but my husband is a self- employed management consultant, and for one reason or another we thought we should wait, then we decided we couldn't wait forever."

They put their pounds 81,000 house on the market at the beginning of the year and within three days they had a buyer. But the couple who put an offer in were trapped in negative equity and then had the house they were selling down-valued again, in a final legacy of the great slump.

However, a second buyer came forward within weeks. "It was relatively easy, although there was that hitch, and the people we are now selling to are first-time buyers, so we're hoping there isn't going to be a problem, touch wood," Mrs Templeton said.

The Templetons were moving up a level themselves in the housing market, and had pounds 160,000 to spend in Dulwich in south London. At first they were disappointed to discover it would buy them little more than their existing home in Croydon.

Eventually they found a modern four-bedroom detached house, and extended their mortgage. Mrs Templeton said: "They were very competitive, and it was difficult to work out because no deal was the same as another. We're glad to be moving at last. It just felt like the time was right."