Belfast Telegraph

I’m all stressed out with this home owning lark, so sod it

By Robert McNeil

To rent or not to rent, that is a question. Even with house prices in Northern Ireland decreasing or bottoming out — pick your facts from a plethora of conflicting reports — it’s harder to get a mortgage, on account of the financial system being run by nutters.

But is buying the be-all and end-all? I didn’t get on the property market till I was 42 — and that was after years of my socialist friends telling me I was mad to rent.

I see their point now and dislike the idea of paying someone else’s mortgage or, even worse, just giving money for nothing to some evil capitalist git.

Several of my friends, indeed, now own properties that they rent out. It’s money for old rope and thoroughly immoral, though I’d do it myself given half the chance.

In Britainshire, and Ireland of late, the idea of not being able to buy occasions existential panic. Citizens freak out and fret if they haven’t got a foot on the ladder by the time they’re 30.

How else will they make money? Not by salaries, in most cases.

How will they provide for their old age? Not by pensions, in many instances.

It’s got to be property, the magical elixir that conjures money out of the mad market or, alternatively, wipes out everything you have — you will, of course, have read the warnings about investments going down as well as up.

It’s all terribly Anglo-Saxon, although interestingly — in the loose sense of the word — the teutonic-style Germans have the most home-renters in Europe.

Only 39% ‘own’ their properties, compared to 60% in England and the Other Bits. It’s not seen as problematic.

Same in yonder France. In Paris, fewer than one in three is master of the floorspace they survey, largely because the prices are loonological.

Research in Nuthouse Britain, meanwhile, suggests two in three property-less citizens have given up the ‘dream’ of owning their own domicile.

The deposits required are impossible for most folk but I counsel them thus: do not despair.

The whole bonkers market will swing back up again at some stage, and they’ll be bunging loans about like confetti again — though it could be a wee while yet.

Think, too, of the terrible responsibilities of ownership. I desperately need: a new bathroom; a fence at the top of the property; flaking exterior paintwork redone.

And how much of that can I afford? Correct. Nada. I’m too scared to spend money on anything beyond Amazon and iTunes at the moment.

I don’t own my property, anyway. The bank does and by the time the ransom gets paid off (when I’m 72) it’ll have robbed me rotten, hence my frequent, unheeded calls for more arrests and imprisonment in the sector.

Ideally, all bankers should be arrested, with only those showing signs of remorse being freed — eventually.

At some point, you have to look at property, pensions and other characteristic concerns of our time and say: sod it.

I can’t make head nor tail of my meagre pension arrangements, beyond some sums which say at the bottom line that : “Total = peanuts.”

It’s the way most of us live in advanced civilisation.

Faced with financial fears in the future, just tell yourself: I’ll fall off that bridge when I come to it.

Belfast Telegraph

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