There’s only so long I can put up with reading about a property bubble and all the splendid riches on offer before I break.
Rishi’s stamp duty holiday was the doing, the media proclaim, harrying forth a multitude of claims about how quickly the markets are rising, how every home owner is going to drown in glorious profit and Rightmove is shouting like a fisherwoman how unbelievably hot the market is.
And I thought to myself: wow this seems crazy. Aren’t we still in the middle of a pandemic and aren’t millions of people getting paid by the government not to work?
And aren’t thousands of job losses being announced every day?
And aren’t the shops closing?
And aren’t people not rushing back to restaurants and pubs as quick as everybody expected?
And aren’t we heading for a recession/depression/catastrophe not seen before in our lifetime/generation/ever?
And wasn’t it, last time I looked, like we were on the brink of the apocalypse?
But are we OK now?
Has the Chancellor cut stamp duty until March 2021 and everything’s fine?
Is it now safe to go out and spunk up to half a million on a property?
I found myself looping in confusion.
And I was pretty sure the media were full of shit and Rightmove was trying to claw back some brand power, but still I found myself wondering.
Coz shit like this is insidious, even to those of us who think they’ve got a clear idea on the market.
And so I called a couple of my friends in property to find out what word on the street is.
‘The market is hot, if you want to sell, get rid now coz it’s gonna be a shit fest once the government withdraw their furlough support, and then it’s going to be a while before you can sell once the great recession hits.’
And so I check the portfolio and eyeball a property I tried to sell two years ago and which got caught up in the whole Brexit (remember that?) debacle and having a shit estate agent.
It’s been rented ever since by a lovely tenant and one who’d I’d rather not get rid of, but would have to if I sold.
‘The tenant wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire, sell it,’ was the response.
Now, I’d like to think the tenant could maybe squeeze out an ickle drip, but I get the sentiment.
So I call a couple of estate agents about the property who’d seen it before when I was researching the market. Agents, I hasten to add, who I hadn’t chosen to sell it, which is why I tell them, I still own it. The consolation prize to them not being picked after all, is the fact I still call them and at some point in the future they may win my business for the sale.
‘You only have a small window,’ is what I’m told, ‘before the market turns.’
I agree with them about the narrow window of opportunity and ask them their thoughts on the market given the media frenzy of property hotness.
I’m met with a hollow laugh. Oh yes, that? Right.
‘Well?’, I say, waiting.
‘There are some good buyers in the market. Covid and the changed practice to video viewings has weeded out a lot of time wasters, but it’s not the frenzy the media are saying it is.’
‘Oh,’ I sag, ‘that’s disappointing. But at least I don’t need to turf out a good tenant now.’
‘I wonder if you had a bad tenant you’d say the same?’ the estate agent quips.
I don’t say anything, just reflect on the truism.
‘Perhaps,’ he carries on, ‘if the property was empty, or you didn’t have a good tenant, we’d be having a different conversation?’
‘Maybe,’ I say.
I hang up and ponder, and realise he’s right.
My tenant may not piss on me if I’m on fire, but as I’m the landlord I provide the smoke alarms. That means it’s my job to know when I’m on fire and piss on myself.
The moral of the story: believe what you want, but don’t believe the headlines.