Housing Dilemmas

May 27, 2010

My landlady wants her house back. I am fairly glad because a) I couldn’t afford to heat that sodding house, and b) she is my friend and I will be very happy to have her back home.

Househunting however, does not make me happy.

You get a peculiar perspective on the housing market.

My wishlist is very short. I want a home for me and my daughter. I don’t want a mansion, a 2 bed terrace that won’t swallow half the gas that comes through the Caspian pipeline would be good. I would quite like to stay there for a few years, I have moved twice since she was born- and she is only 3.  I would like it to be within walking distance of her new school.

In many ways I am lucky. Rents and house prices are comparitively low here-decent housing is not out of my reach financially. Hebden Bridge, and the surrounding towns were pioneers in provision of low cost decent housing to the industrial workers who filled the factories, weaving sheds, and mills that formed its backbone. Those streets of terraces still stand, only made more appealing by a patina acquired over a hundred years.

The problem is the housing market.

Since I was a kid people have been sold the idea that everyone should own their own home. Housing is a market now, not a basic need. Those streets of terraces are now assets, subject to the whim of the financial markets.

We saw the inevitable consequence of that, with house prices rocketing, so that the guide of a mortgage 3 times your average salary became meaningless-and the risky loans that allowed people to obtain a home that was so far outside what they could afford;  the root cause of why our public services are being slashed. The fact that the market is still distorted and bloated, a clear sign of economic recovery for the nation.

A hiccup in this unsustainable system,  means that there is a wealth of cheap property available to rent. People who can’t sell their homes are renting them out while the market stabilises. Fair enough.

I have seen 5 houses in the past two weeks. All of them rented out by very nice people, all of them affordable. All of them rented until the market stabilises enough for them to be sold. 6 months. 12. This takes me to part way through my daughters first school year-max. Another thousand pounds found to cover fees, deposits, and bonds that won’t ever be returned.

The fear of another move in a years time, led me to spend yesterday talking to a mortgage advisor.

Discussing the ins and outs of taking out a £100k loan. In a time when employment, especially the public sector employment that I trained for, is becoming scarcer and more unstable.

When I know fine well that at some point in the next couple of years, interest rates will rise so that this barely manageable loan will  increase at a rate that it is completely out of step with my prospective income. At a time when VAT increases and taxes at the point of consumption take an ever larger chunk from my income.

A loan which forces my ex husband to take out a loan he can’t afford, so my share of the equity in our marital home can be released to form a deposit for it, and which in any other context than the housing market would look like financial suicide.  On a property that could very easily be worth much less than the amount I borrow, in a very short space of time.

We discussed this figure like it was low, like I say- its just for a small house.

I am now in the middle of planning how to put myself in the position where I can take out this  loan within the next year, while I find a rental that will put me in a position to do it.

I am a pragmatist. I know I should think myself lucky that I am in a town with good schools, a great community, and that I can probably afford to stay in.

I would quite like to make the most financially responsible decision for me and my family, rather than the decision the market dictates. I don’t want something for nothing, I just want to pay a fair rent, on a decent house, so I can continue to give my daughter the life she deserves. I don’t want to move every 6 months. That doesn’t seem like an unreasonable ‘want’.

If you don’t mind, I am putting pragmatism aside for one second,  allowing myself to stamp my feet and say it isn’t fair. I may drink tea, and find solace in the fact that moving at least gives me a chance to declutter.



  1. I’ve just rejoined the rental market after having to sell my house to start over. It feels very strange, and the reaction from friends and family stranger. My generation is the first to expect home-ownership as a given. I’ve been told that I’m throwing away my money and I need to get back on the property market as soon as possible.

    I’ve no intention of doing this. I feel more free than I have in years. When the interests rate rise, I no longer have to worry about finding that extra from an unchanging income.

    Like you, all I want is a secure home for me and my family, one that isn’t tainted by the constant worry of how we’re going to pay for it.

    No, you’re not asking for much at all, and yes, it is unfair.

    Chastity x

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Cliff O'Sullivan, Lisa. Lisa said: https://deeplyflawedbuttrying.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/housing-dilemmas/ Housing dilemmas. […]

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