Me and my home: Annie Hulley

From Coronation Street to Canary Wharf, Cheryl Markosky meets the former soap star who turned property investor
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Actress and former 'Coronation Street' star Annie Hulley has acquired a large property portfolio over the past three years. She has written a self-help book on property investment, while continuing her acting career. She lives in Muswell Hill, north London, with Chris Clough, a TV producer, and children Jack, 16, and Lizzie, 14.

Actress and former 'Coronation Street' star Annie Hulley has acquired a large property portfolio over the past three years. She has written a self-help book on property investment, while continuing her acting career. She lives in Muswell Hill, north London, with Chris Clough, a TV producer, and children Jack, 16, and Lizzie, 14.

We bought and sold during the property crash a decade ago. We were living at the bottom of the hill, until we discovered our detached Edwardian villa. I like to have a little look at properties advertised in estate agents' windows and generally keep an eye out. It paid off, because we fell in love with this house as soon as we saw it. We bought it knowing that it needed full modernisation and central heating installed.

We have done a lot to the house. We knocked down walls and took out a bathroom that was stuck in the middle of the place. An old lady lived here for 52 years and when she became unwell, she had the bathroom fitted right in the centre. Also, we opened up fireplaces and got rid of the dry rot. I like to decorate and Chris is quite handy, so we did a lot of the painting. We wouldn't dream of touching electrics or plumbing and stick to what idiots can do. So, as a pair of idiots, we did our best.

Even after 10 years, the work seems to go on. There is still the downstairs loo and the front garden to sort out, and we have a loft that could be converted. The three-storey house has five bedrooms, three loos, a large kitchen and a reception room.

My favourite spot has to be the garden. It is quite unusual for north London, with no grass to mow, a massive pond and bridge and quite architectural tropical plants.

When I am doing up apartments to let, my style is very contemporary and clean, with steel, chrome and glass. But my own home is a home and not a show flat. Our house is more old-fashioned and to be honest, a bit ragged round the edges, with kids and dogs making a bit of a mess. You have to accept a modicum of chaos in a family place. My daughter has this knack of spilling things everywhere. She spilled Horlicks on my husband's laptop recently, which didn't go down at all well.

I do up all our investment flats and currently have six in Docklands, one in Kentish Town, one in Bow and one in Liverpool. I don't like buying furniture packs for them - they are overpriced and dull. Agents say my places are always spot-on, so they must be OK.

I go for new build and do the snagging myself. Docklands is good for rentals. Although there are a lot of lets there, if you furnish places with a bit of flair and don't put too much of your own stamp on them, you can do well. I always look for a unique selling point, like a river view. It is important to be close to good transport and places of work, too. Rentals are like holiday homes - no one wants to be miles from restaurants or the beach.

In Muswell Hill, I can walk to all the local shops. Parking in London is a blooming nightmare, so why drive if you don't have to? My home needs are not the same as my business needs and living in a family village is crucial. What I like about Muswell Hill and Hampstead is that it is not one big High Road. It is very villagey and not all on the straight. We have spent at least £100,000 getting our home up to scratch and every year we seem to have spend money on something. My mantra seems to be, "One day I will sort that out" and that's exactly where it is at - one day. Doing up homes can be very expensive and you need to prioritise.

I am a sucker for sales. Whenever I pass a shop with a sale on, I go in and and take a look. I buy new furniture for the flats and always have an idea of what I need. My loft looks like a removals depot, with all sorts of bits and pieces stored. Sometimes tenants bring their own furniture from abroad and I have to put stuff in storage. In contrast, we have a mixture at home. We do have our old family cast-offs and the kids are always going on at me: "How come you give all the great new furniture to the people in the flats and we have to put up with all the tired old sofas?"

I buy flats off-plan and look for things like transport, big infrastructures - like at Canary Wharf - and where the cranes are moving in for new development. For instance, in London everything seems to be moving east and I chose Liverpool because it was then mooted as the European Capital of Culture, so I bought at the right time. I only wish I had bought in Manchester when I was doing Coronation Street, because now it is very lively and all about city living. I go and explore areas and it helps to be an actress, because I have worked in every city in the UK and have a good idea about most places.

I am concerned about TV shows and some of these seminars on property, where they tell you how much of a return you will make on your investment, but don't mention how much you will pay in capital gains tax and other fees.

I am really pleased with the book. I feel I have achieved my aim of making it an easy read, while giving readers sound information and advice.

I am talking from personal experience here, while some of these authors are so rich and out of touch, it doesn't really mean a lot. I am a real person. When asked if it is sensible to put all your money into property, of course it isn't. You need something in that pot for a rainy day.

'How to be a Property Millionaire, From Coronation Street to Canary Wharf', by Annie Hulley, £10.99 (howtobooks)

Comments