Stepping Stones: One Woman's Property Story

A life in brief with the property-owning classes
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Maria Slater's first purchase was in 1968 in Wivenhoe, Essex, where her husband Martin was an undergraduate. They paid £4,500 for a new three-bed semi: "We were young and very left wing and felt quite embarrassed about owning a house."

Maria Slater's first purchase was in 1968 in Wivenhoe, Essex, where her husband Martin was an undergraduate. They paid £4,500 for a new three-bed semi: "We were young and very left wing and felt quite embarrassed about owning a house."

Three years on they rented out the house after Martin got a scholarship in the US. In 1976, just before returning after six years away with stints in Paris and Italy, they sold the house for £25,000. They rented until they bought a Victorian family house to accommodate their two daughters. It was 1978 and they paid £35,000, but spent £10,000 on improvements: "We were without a toilet for days and a bathroom for weeks."

Soon after Maria bought a restaurant and fell in love with a bungalow overlooking the River Stow at £40,000: "We got an architect to build another storey using glass." They sold the restaurant and their house, for £50,000, but at one point: "We owned three properties."

Maria then made a canny buy: "I bought a flat in Primrose Hill which wasn't so trendy then." In 1982 she paid £30,000 and they lived there during the week, as Martin had changed careers, and went back to Wivenhoe at weekends.

Two years later the flat was sold for twice its purchase price and their architect-designed home went for £95,000. They bought a four-storey Highgate house with basement flat for £130,000. It cost £60,000 to restore but was transformed into a family home with a flat which they rented.

By 1988 the family moved to Italy and rented out their Highgate home. But in 1993 Maria and her husband separated, and she returned with her daughters to Highgate where she kept the house going by taking in students.

After working for an estate agency, Maria decided to buy for investment and found a property in NW2, where she paid £550,000 at the top of the market for "a total dump" after selling her beloved home for £650,000.

She has spent much of her time and money transforming the dilapidated house into 10 luxury apartments: "It's very stressful, but the children are grown up. Everything I own is in storage but I'm willing to rent for a while and wait and see."

Those moves in brief

1968: bought first house for £4,500, sold for £25,000 in 1976. 1978: bought Victorian house for £35,000, sold for £50,000. 1982: bought bungalow for £40,000, sold for £95,000 in 1984. 1982: bought Primrose Hill flat for £30,000, sold for £60,000. 1984: bought Highgate House for £130,000, sold for £650,000. 2000: bought NW2 house to convert into flats.

If you would like your moves to be featured 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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