Move or Not To Move? That is the question

Discussion If To Move or Not To Move

  • By | Photography by Laura Chan | Sunday, November 20, 2016

Hi I'm Sharon, a professional property agent in Essex.

I bought my first property in 1978, with my partner. It was a two up, two down semi with a loft room and a downstairs bathroom. The price paid was £10,500 but to put it into perspective, our combined wages were approximately £22 per week.

This little house in Wellington Avenue in Westcliff-on-Sea would now cost about £260,000, at current market value. If we had stayed there, our mortgage would possibly be paid off and we would have substantial equity.

Times change, however. People change and ‘things’ happen. So what is it that drives us to move on?

Other than investment reasons, or wanting to ‘make a quick buck’, maybe the house is too big or too small or employment/unemployment may determine a different geographical location? There are other considerations. Maybe we might change a partner or even lose a partner, or maybe the neighbours drive you crazy, or the neighbourhood is just too busy or too dull? There may be times when there is no financial option other than handing the keys back to the mortgage provider.

There are a myriad of reasons for moving to another property. Some of these are intensely personal, to do with status and buying a property that reflects your position in society or simply to do with restlessness and wanting to experience living in different communities.

As a 61 year old Estate Agent in Essex who has been told by our Government not to retire until I am 66, I have seen and experienced most of these reasons to move. These moves all seemed, at the time, urgent and necessary but in reality, some were and some were not.

In 1979, moving from the house in Wellington Avenue, we purchased a 3 bed property costing £23,000 in Lymington Avenue in Leigh-on Sea. It was a project, with gardens to the side and back, where we did our ‘self-sufficiency’ thing and grew vegetables…The ‘Good Life’ for those that remember. Then I moved on, leaving my ex to finish the work. He paid me my £6,000 equity share of the property and completed the work needed. The garden at the side went and was replaced by an extension that allowed the complete property to be made into 4, one bed flats with parking. Today’s estimate of worth, approx. £200,000 per flat.

My equity was used to move to a 3 bed semi in Southbourne Grove, Hockley that cost £27,000 in 1981 and I was expecting our first child. This property would now be valued at approximately £350,000.

In 1983 we moved back to Leigh-on-sea. Again I was pregnant, with my second baby boy and moved to Tudor Gardens, to a pretty three bed chalet which cost £40,000. I fell in love with the garden. Now this property was extended to the back by the people we sold on to and a bedroom added. Today it would fetch approximately £485,000.

Another son was arriving and it was 1986. We bought my childhood home in Crowstone Avenue, a five bed semi, for £72,000. Our most expensive property to date.

In 1987, after the birth of my third son, personal and market forces conspired against us. The boys’ dad shipped out and we saw our property price rise to £140,000 only to drop back down to £72,000 by 1990. Luck and hard work meant the property was not repossessed, unlike the thousands who found themselves in negative equity at that time. The recession had hit hard. For me, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I met my future husband and in 1991 gave birth…to our first daughter.

The recession was still biting and in 1998 we moved again. The property had reached the pre-slump price of £140,000 once again. The Crowstone Avenue property now has 6 bedrooms and is worth approximately £800,000.

Yet again we moved back to Leigh-on-Sea to a 5 bed terraced house in Leighton Avenue. This cost £86,000 and if I tell you that 5 huge terrapins were living in the bath, it will give you an idea of the condition of the place. We moved out because of crazy neighbours and busy roads, in 2001. This property is now valued at approximately £520,000.

In 2001, we bought a 5 bed semi on a corner plot on Shaftesbury Ave Southchurch/Thorpe Bay for £145,000. During this time, two of the boys bought their own flat and the other boy’s girlfriend was moving in. We downsized and sold Shaftesbury in 2007, which is now worth approximately £495,000.

We love this area and decided to buy in Brunswick Road, nearby, which cost £240,000 and needed total refurbishment. This is the house we thought we would stay in and we renovated and decorated accordingly. We love being by the park and the sea.

In 2011, everything changed. We were on the move again in order to release funds for solicitor fees to fight a terrible injustice which should be resolved next year. Brunswick Road would now value at approximately £370,000. In 2012, we bought a 2bed first floor flat in Kensington Road, which needed a lease extension as well as refurbishment, for £137,000.

Four years later, we are still there and the flat is valued at approximately £215,000. Our daughter is presently renting with her partner and one of our sons has a 1year old daughter with a son due any moment and still lives in the flat he purchased. I would have loved to been in one of the bigger properties to accommodate the grandchildren when they visit, but we will manage!

We have spent so much money on decorating and conveyancing fees over the years that I can’t help but wonder ‘what if’…what if we had stayed in the now highest priced of our  properties, in Crowstone Avenue, there would be so much equity to spare. Truthfully we have had to move in order to educate and keep the kids in a chosen lifestyle, which has included private schooling and dogs as pets. This is where our equity went.

This is what is so scary for future generations who may not be able to get on the property ladder. It is the lack of choice and lack of access to funds when they are desperately needed. Rents only ever increase and place limitations on how you live your life.

In my 38 years of buying and selling my own homes, prices have increased over all, despite property crashes and recessions. This has allowed us to access money when needed, either by loan or remortgage using our asset, the property. If I had only ever rented properties, my life choices would have been severely limited. Sometimes we had to move and sometimes we chose to.

A very small percentage of my friends have managed to stay in their first or second home that they purchased. One of these bought a property in Edinburgh Drive on the Highlands Estate in beginning of 1980’s for £21,500. They have added a bedroom to make it a four bed semi, which in today’s market would sell for £470,000. This is the largest price increase of all the properties, apart from the flats development in Lymington Avenue. These friends are also the ones that stayed with their original partners, too. Conclusions may be drawn from this but one thing is for sure, life happens and buying a property, if at all possible, will often make crisis navigationable.

If you would like anymore advice about properties, anywhere in Essex, please feel free to contact any of our Essex property agents. Or any other questions about advice to move or not to move.

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Thanks for reading, Sharon Harris.

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