…have come to a conclusion that the end of the world is nigh at hand.” James Emerson Tennent’s Letters from the Aegean, 1829. The Celtic theme is rather timely as this week we see Alex Salmond a hopping and a trotting at the SNP Spring Conference in Aberdeen. Closer to home (for Mr Salmond at least), would be Private Frazer of Dad’s Army fame, whose line, “We’re all doomed, doomed I tell ye” had a particular relevance last week. Not just in London, but throughout the country, house prices were reported last week to be on a stratospheric trajectory. Just to confirm, this is throughout the country, with the exception of areas including parts of the North East, the North West, Wales and the outer suburbs of some of the largest cities in the country, So, nationally. Sort of. This is good news people. Sort of. If the media are to be believed, then some people will benefit dramatically and many will suffer because they will never, ever be able to afford their own property. Well we don’t need a journalist to tell us this. It is called market forces, or more literally, life. There are winners and there are losers. Isn’t that right all you Arsenal supporters? Glibness aside, it irks me immeasurably that the press can create such a maelstrom of emotional turmoil. Always remember that the headlines of today are tomorrow’s fish and chip paper; just like the headlines of three years ago stating that we were faced with Armageddon as house prices were going to crash by 25-50% in the following months. I may well be wrong (I often am, just ask Mrs Cheshire), but I would wager that the same soothsayers now are the same ones of yester year and if they really do have oracle-esque proclivities, why are they still journalists?
Amidst all the hype, one key fact stood out to me. Hometrack reported that typically owners now moved every 22 years as opposed to the 1980’s when they moved on average every 8 years. If this is correct, what does it matter that prices are soaring, as you aren’t planning to move for a considerable part of your lifetime? As with every generation in the annals of time, the first time home buyers need help in getting on the property ladder. Hence the launch of Help to Buy. Incidentally, the latter is now being blamed as contributing to the soaring prices. As always it appears that Sir James and Private Frazer were right: it is angst-ridden headlines for all, whether prices go up or go down.
One of the questions that I invariably ask potential purchasers is what type of property they are looking for. Buy-to-let is a clear indicator. When they reply that they want somewhere for the children (they are planning to have more), the pet alligator, herd of wildebeest etc. I always try and determine what is the main thing that they have to have in their prospective home. Note the use of the word, ‘home’. That’s right, the place where one lives permanently, usually as part of a house hold (unless one is a total misanthrope). Even if you proclaim to be the misanthrope to beat all misanthropes you would still want somewhere to call your home. We all our inundated with the adverts beseeching us to ‘buy this dream home’ or ‘come home to this’, never ‘buy your dream investment property’. Fact; we all need somewhere to live. In days of yore, people would buy a house and make it into a home, not the other way round, with the aim of getting out of it as soon as possible. Just in case the world is about to end, I shall now retire to a darkened room in my penthouse with Tatiana, Flavia and a Bacardi….