An old friend rang me on my mobile this morning to chat, but I was immediately suspicious. She is lovely and has always been a great mate but, like me, is busy and rarely rings during the week without there being something on her mind. So I waited patiently for her to get around to telling me all about it.
It transpires that she and her partner have become smitten with a fairytale house that sounds like a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s a gorgeous place that’s bordering on being a mansion, built a few hundred years ago. They weren’t really seriously looking to buy as they already have a nice home which – typically – they’ve just finished getting right. But one weekend they got bored and did a bit of idle internet trawling on Rightmove. Then they stumbled across this amazing house and just had to see it. And now that idle trawling – if the sale goes ahead – will cost them a small fortune.
So what’s the problem, apart from the price, I wondered? She and her partner both have good jobs. Of course it’s the usual thing – location, location, location! It’s in a very, very deprived area, with a crime rate which makes Midsomer look like a retirement village. And with a lack of investment into the area, it’s unlikely to improve any time soon. To cap it all, my friend will have a small child by the time the sale goes through. So I’m wondering if this dream house is worth it, when she might not feel safe in it alone with a young baby when her partner is at work. And will it be a good investment when an economic slowdown is on the cards and house prices in some areas are already slowing? Not to mention the fact that they will probably be relying on one income for a while. The timing, on many fronts, is not ideal. But then again, it is a gorgeous house and they plan to live in it for at least 15 years, so in investment terms it’s likely they’ll ride out any economic storm in. And perhaps it’ll turn out to be a great investment. Who knows?
But with my frugal cap on, I can’t help thinking that now is the time to be battening down the hatches and reducing your financial burden, not adding to it. And I’m just relieved that it’s not my dilemma! I know what it’s like. A few years ago when DJ and I were looking for a house, I fell hook line and sinker for a beautiful but crazy little cottage surrounded by farm land which was out of our budget at £190k and totally impractical. There was nowhere to park, you had to walk down a tiny little alleyway to get to it. All the rooms were minute, DJ had to bend over to get in it and it had no gas supply, relying on oil heaters. But it had gorgeous beams, a beautiful little cottage garden and I was mad about it. When DJ said there was no way we could buy it I burst into tears! But I knew he was right and I had to accept the decision.
Would you risk entering the housing market now? Or is all the concern about house prices overblown?