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Monday, June 27, 2011

Home that melted an ice queen's heart...

Screen star: Laura is a popular face on the children's Nickelodeon channel
Home that melted an ice queen's heart...


When Laura Hamilton joined ITV1’s Dancing On Ice this year, the show’s fans were asking, ‘Laura who?’. Seemingly the least well-known celebrity on the show, she nonetheless proved to be a popular contender, finishing runner-up. 

The perseverance the TV presenter demonstrated is a quality she has also shown when it comes to property. Ten years ago Laura, 29, began to climb the property renovation ladder.

When she started, there were a host of DIY TV shows encouraging viewers to buy homes that needed updating on a budget and then selling them for a profit.

Property project: Laura Hamilton's latest acquisition is a four-bedroom new-build house in Purley, Surrey, which she is buying with boyfriend Alex Goward, 30
Property project: Laura Hamilton's latest acquisition is a four-bedroom new-build house in Purley, Surrey, which she is buying with boyfriend Alex Goward, 30

‘My idea was to make a small amount from my first property, use it as a deposit to buy my next one and increase my equity as I went along,’ says Laura. ‘I have enjoyed buying, improving and selling homes, but the financial results have been disappointing. 

‘If I’d simply held on to my first flat and sold it today I’d have the same in terms of profit. I didn’t take into account stamp duty and estate agent fees.’

Full of new-found caution, Laura has moved on from doing up dilapidated
homes. Her latest acquisition is a new-build house in Purley, Surrey, which she is buying with boyfriend Alex Goward, 30, an insurance broker. The couple paid £625,000 for a four-bedroom house in a quiet residential street. Laura knocked £50,000 off the asking price because the property was unfinished – there is no drive and they must landscape the garden. 

‘Just as he was almost finished the developer ran out of money,’ says Laura. ‘But I took one look at the quality of the interior – granite work surfaces, heated oak and tiled floors and beautiful bathrooms – and I knew this was something special,’ says Laura, a popular face on the children’s Nickelodeon channel. 

She bought her first property in 2001, paying £100,000 for the one-bedroom flat in Meopham near where she was living with her parents. After updating the kitchen and bathroom, she found a tenant within six weeks and sold it only two years ago to her younger brother Luke, a police officer, for £155,000. 

In 2002 she moved into a Seventies three-bedroom terrace house in Cheam, Surrey, belonging to her boyfriend at the time, helping to renovate it. They sold it two years later and bought a detached three-bedroom house in nearby Reigate for £340,000, but having installed a new kitchen and bathroom the pair broke up and Laura moved out six months after the purchase.

In early 2005 Laura moved back in with her parents and a year later bought a three-bedroom Victorian end-of-terrace house in Forest Hill, South-East London, for £277,000, which she gutted, re-plumbed, rewired and re-plastered for another £25,000. In mid-2008 she had it valued at £485,000, but after the property crash managed to sell it for only £350,000 in 2009. 

‘I made a big mistake with that one,’ she says. ‘Youngsters used to throw stones at the windows. That experience taught me there are roads you should avoid even in good areas. After I sold it I bought a house in Meopham because I knew the area.’ 

Laura bought a three-bedroom Thirties semi-detached house opposite her parents last year for £250,000. It hadn’t been touched since the Seventies so she renovated it for £60,000 and sold it at the end of the year for £355,000. ‘Now I’m hoping my career will take a step up and I won’t have time for another renovation,’ she says. 

Ben Gershon, of Frost Estate agents in Purley, says prices in the area are seven per cent lower than peak values, but the number of sales has risen in the past year. ‘There are few new-build properties on the market,’ he says. ‘These sell quickly and can command a premium if they are on a quiet road.’

I took one look at the quality of the interior - granite work surfaces, heated oak and tiled floors and beautiful bathrooms - and I knew this was something special

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