Stepping Stones

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The Independent Online

Try homes' PA Sandii Lawrence has bought seven properties over the years and now lives in Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire.

Try homes' PA Sandii Lawrence has bought seven properties over the years and now lives in Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire.

Her first buy was a three-bedroom semi in Plumstead, bought in 1968 for £4,500 as the market was beginning to rise: "Everything was about £1,000 out of our reach and there was talk of gazumping. I think that's when the term was invented."

She was there for almost five years until she sold for £10,000 and bought a larger property nearby, a brand-new, three bedroom, detached house for£20,000: "We had to pay for it in stages. It was a common system at the time. You put your deposit down to reserve it then as it was built we paid more until completion. We had to borrow the money in staggered amounts. Not a good method."

In 1980 she sold for £46,000 and bought another new house. At the time, when the children were small, she preferred new properties, but "not any more".

Three years later Sandii and her husband divorced and she left the detached, five-bedroom house to him and moved into a small studio flat for one: "I was desperate to find somewhere and I would have lived in a shoe box. It was mine and I loved it." The studio was in a pretty spot on the edge of a small river: "I was there for three years and used it as a stepping stone to get something else."

She finally sold in 1986 after working for a construction company which was building the M25: "We used to go out on jaunts and on one of them I noticed a development being built in Denham." After a "begging letter" to the council, which was in partnership with the developers, Sandii bought a 75 per cent share of a two-bedroom end-of-terrace for £46,000, a scheme she says is "brilliant".

Sandii lived happily here for seven years and during this time she met another partner. At one point the couple considered moving and the house was valued at £100,000, but they couldn't find anywhere to buy.

By 1993 the value had dropped to £82,000 and they sold and bought a bungalow: "I was getting older and wanted something easy to maintain." She paid £113,000 for the two-bedroom, detached bungalow, but when her mother became ill Sandii decided to buy with her. She sold for £132,000 and together they paid £226,500 for a larger, 1950s bungalow.

After adapting and extending the home, Sandii, her partner and her mother each have their own lounges, bedrooms and dining rooms: "It's such adaptable accommodation."

The bungalow stands in a third of an acre, and after "a lot of hard work" is fully restored and now worth more than £400,000. "The plan is to stay here until we retire and it's our pension," she says. "Ideally we'd like to move to the coast, but in five years time it could be a different story."

Those moves in brief

1968: bought Plumstead home for £4,500, sold for £10,000.

1972: bought detached house for £20,000, sold for £46,000.

1980: bought five-bedroom, Buckinghamshire home for £52,000, husband took over.

1983: bought studio for £12,000, sold for £25,000.

1986: bought share of house for £46,000, sold for £82,000.

1993: bought bungalow for £113,000, sold for £132,000.

1996: bought large bungalow for £226,500, now worth more than £400,000.

* If you would like your moves to be featured e-mail or write to: Jackie Hunter, Stepping Stones, The Independent, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL