What Katy Did: Safe as houses

This week, columnist Katy Evans talks about her move into the world of property developing and ends up with two houses on the go at the same time.

Although I've been writing my column for the past few weeks, due to my dedication to journalism, I have, in fact, been on holiday.

Where was I this time you ask? Another press trip to sunny shores thousands of miles away like last time? Alas no. My fortnight was spent to-ing and fro-ing between Ipswich and the ultra glamorous metropolis of Colchester.

Unfortunately, the closest I got to feeling like I was on holiday was taking an early morning swim in the outdoor pool at Next Generation gym during the first week; the rest of the time was spent paining and decorating.

This was because - and call me mad, as some Southold residents already do - I have purchased not one but two houses, both of which completed within weeks of each other.

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For most people, the process of buying just one house is stressful enough so to have two together seems rather crazy. But then that's what I do - why have one when you can have two? Just as I often end up buying two pairs of shoes or trousers (especially when I find ones that fit - which happens once in a blue moon) I decided that one house to live in and one as an investment was a good idea. And I still do, in theory. Everything I read about pensions sounds rather dismal and as such, I have no faith in the idea of squirreling money away into a fund for unscrupulous people to invest it into an underperforming stock market, only to find out that when I retire, at the age of 70 (which it will no doubt be by the time I reach retirement age - if indeed there is a retirement age in 30 years time) I'll be awarded a meagre £4.53 a week to live on.

So, following in the footsteps of my father, I too have dipped my big toe into the world of property investment.

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But when I began my search back in February it was not my intention to buy two houses. As I trawled Ipswich looking at every available terrace house on the market (and probably annoying every estate agent going) I was looking both with the eyes of an investor and from the view point of moving myself. You see, I was not unhappy living in my lovely flat in Pinewood and so considered buying a small house to let out. After a couple of false starts - putting in offers, then getting cold feel and withdrawing - my boyfriend chanced upon rather a 'bargain' in Colchester and convinced me we should go in halves with the intention of letting it. This required a rather large deposit and so the bulk of my money from being bought out of the flat went towards this house.

It all happened rather quickly. After all, my bloke and I had only been seeing each other seriously for around six months and then all of a sudden I was agreeing to be contractually bound to him and a pile of bricks and mortar. But despite the offer being agreed in April-time, completion wasn't until the end of July, whereas my Ipswich house only took seven weeks from start to finish.

There was a point where I again started to get cold feet, wondering whether it was too much money to shell out, whether we'd manage to find tenants etc, but these worries have all dissipated as a) we have around £20K equity already, due to a number of factors including rapidly rising prices, and b) we found tenants within two weeks of placing an ad. In fact, the family of seven are set to move in at the end of the month, which was why I booked two weeks off to get stuck in to the decorating.

The house is lovely, over-looking a park and with a huge garden, and now that we have stripped out all the old fashioned décor - wood panelling and old, flowery carpets - and painted al the walls white it's looking much lighter and brighter. However, as we were working to a tight deadline, the thick, textured wallpaper throughout the hallway had to stay and I spent most of my first holiday day painting over it.

We also had plans to paint the kitchen cupboards and retile both the kitchen and bathroom, but again, as we only have a few days left, these are staying as is (though we have had charcoal tiles laid on the kitchen floor to replace the nasty wood laminate).

Although I am now back at work there is still plenty to be done in Colchester, as well as at my Ipswich house which I was meant to be moving into this (last, as you read) Wednesday as my brother returns from Venice and will want his bedroom back! But more of that next week.

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