Has the world gone mad?

What is it with some people? I’ve just received news of what must be this years most optimistic vendor. Either that or his agent has spent too long in the hot sunshine that we have been enjoying of late. A beach hut has been put on the market in Southwold on the Suffolk coast. “A rare opportunity to acquire a well maintained beach hut below Gun Hill Cliff” say the agents. Closing date (in this market?) is 2nd June.

The pretty blue and white building comes with 4 stools, 2 lounge chairs, a windbreak and a kettle amongst other ‘essentials’ and the guide price? £70,000!

I expect that unlike a regular home that a young family could live in a buyer of this des res could get a mortgage and could also find a valuer who had also been on the beach all afternoon who would sign it off at whatever lunatic figure is eventually agreed, but frankly, if a beach hut really can cost £70k in what must be the toughest market that most people can remember, then the agent will have earned twice his fee – and I’m a Dutchman.

Not that I should be surprised. I’ve just seen that my old flat in leafy SW11 is back on the market. Having sold the 2 bed basement, sorry “lower ground floor” pier-da-terre six years ago for £270k (I’m not being indiscreet, you can look it up on the Land Registry website these days) the present owners want £470,000 for it. For a two bed basement flat in Battersea!

I know that the world and his wife have made buckets from property over the past ten years and too many of them fancy themselves to be property investors having simply lived in an house that has gone up in value. But are we seriously saying that to buy a home the young have to save for years, mortgage themselves to the max and plan to pay more than many of them will earn in a lifetime – just to ‘own their own home’?

Personally, whilst I would not wish financial pain on anyone, there is a big upside of values falling – just so long as they don’t bounce back just as quickly as they have fallen. We often hear that property is supposed to be a long term investment. Well, when this market does eventually find the bottom and people once again can actually borrow money from the chicken banks they will find that a beach hut is still all they can afford. If they can, perhaps it will be the kind of investment that the owners of my old flat have found property to be – if they can sell either of them that is!