Stepping Stones

One Couple's Property Story
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The Independent Online

Over the last 10 years, Charles Dixon and his partner Peter Wild have bought seven properties: "We blame our itchy feet on the 'freebie newspapers' which keep dropping through our letterbox," says Charles.

Over the last 10 years, Charles Dixon and his partner Peter Wild have bought seven properties: "We blame our itchy feet on the 'freebie newspapers' which keep dropping through our letterbox," says Charles.

The couple first bought back in 1990 when they decided paying money to a landlord was not a good investment, and instead bought a three-bedroom conversion flat for £60,000. At the time Charles was just 22.

"It was great fun as the flat was near to some nightclubs, and we rented two rooms to other young people," he says.

Three years later they rented out their first home and bought a similar two-bedroom property just round the corner, but this wasn't to be a long-term investment: "Cowboy builders and subsidence problems stopped us keeping this flat, which we sold a mere six months later for £82,000."

The next purchase, a one-bedroom flat in Hampstead, lasted a little longer, nine months, before they decided the property was too small, even though it had a beautiful view over the heath.

Their next buy, in 1994, was a house - a three-bedroom Victorian railway workers' cottage in Finchley, which included their first garden: "We updated the Eighties-style interior but kept the original Victorian features such as cast-iron fireplaces, coving, picture rails and wooden flooring."

1997 saw them on the move again. This time it was a 500-year-old oak barn near Luton which caught their attention.

They paid a £500 reservation price but got an unpleasant surprise when they saw the final plans: "We realised that the developer had not allocated the garden area fairly, so we backed out and unfortunately lost our deposit."

In 1999, following a couple of years spent renting in Finchley, a four-bedroom, 1920s detached house provided their next home - although for six months they couldn't move in because of the major refurbishment work that was needed.

At this time Peter also bought a 400-year-old stone cottage in Gloucestershire, which he describes as "very old and full of character".

The couple are keeping this house as their country home and, having sold their Finchley house for £415,000, are looking forward to moving into a brand new two-bedroomed London apartment at Matiÿre Place in Earls Court Square, London. The property, by developers Nicholson Estates, has many designer features including leather flooring.

Why did they choose this particular apartment? "The interiors were a real attraction," says Peter. "There is a feeling of light and space, with textured floorings dividing the different living areas." The couple also like the fact that the contemporary apartment is hidden behind a traditional, white stucco facade and overlooks an award-winning garden square.

Satisfied that this property has everything they want, both homes will be put in joint names and Charles and Peter intend to settle down for a while. "Our location is ideal, so another move is not on the cards for some time." However, the free newspapers will, no doubt, keep dropping through the letter box...

Those moves in brief 1990: bought a three-bedroom Victorian conversion in Manor House for £60,000, sold for £68,000 in 1997.

1993: bought a two-bedroom flat in Manor House for £72,000, sold for £82,000.

1993: bought a one-bedroom Hampstead flat for £75,000, sold for £95,000

1994: bought a Victorian railway workers' cottage in Finchley for £95,000, sold for £165,000 in 1997.

1999: bought four-bedroom detached house in Finchley for £260,000, sold for £415,000.

2000: bought two-bedroom apartment in Earls Court Square SW5, for £510,000.

If you would like your moves to be featured in Stepping Stones e-mail ginetta@dircon.co.uk or write to: Jackie Hunter, Stepping Stones, The Independent, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL

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