The pain of being a first-time buyer…


YOUNG people in Northern Ireland are ‘nearing points of despair’ because soaring house prices are preventing them from clambering onto the property ladder, SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell told a Westminster debate yesterday, adding that the province is in the grip of an affordable housing crisis. He urged the Government to introduce new rules to oblige developers to build affordable homes as part of their multi-million pound projects. Good idea. Now all we have to do is stop property speculators and landlords like, er, Alasdair McDonnell buying them and pushing the price of terraces up! Is a ‘social democrat’ like Alasdair really going to legislate against market forces? Assuming it’s even possible, I doubt it. Meanwhile, a new University of Ulster survey reveals that, as the average price of a traditional two-up, two-down house increased by 42% in 2006 to an average £160,782 – the kind of dwelling favoured by first-time buyers – it makes a bit of a mockery of the Government’s Co-ownership Scheme, aimed at helping them get on the property ladder. It’s maximum value limit is just £150,000 – ten grand less than is any real use.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Stupid posturing before an election. What we need to do is :

    – fix the stupid planning policy
    – tax the blazes out of second homes, and investors who leave houses unoccupied. At the very least, rates should be levied, if not water charges.
    – tax landowners who apply for planning permission but sit on the land and don’t do any developing

  • Aisling?

    Alasdair McDonnell’s own entry into the Register of Interests in the previous Assembly reads:
    8.Land and property

    Residential property, let at: Stranmillis, Belfast.

    Residential property let at: University Area.

    Smallholding of 24 acres at Dundrod, Co. Antrim

    A share of premises used for medical purposes at:a)Ormeau Road, Belfast
    b)Woodstock Road, Belfast
    c)Old Saintfield Road, Belfast

    10.Miscellaneous

    I have a share in a travel agency that is not a private or public company. It is a partnership between myself and one other person.

    11.Unremunerated interests

    Director of Investment Belfast, a company promoting economic opportunity in Belfast.

    Given that the above is now several years out of date, I wonder how his portfolio reads today.

  • SuperSoupy

    He has taken the profit on one and sold it.

  • Crataegus

    Pity a lot of first time house buyers don’t form cooperatives and take up building.

    Comrade

    With you all the way. You could shorten the length of time a planning approval is valid and make renewal more difficult.

    How can you build affordable houses if the sites before you start building often cost well over £100,000!*!*! Who coughs up the subsidy? Of course that is assuming you can find land to build on!

  • Plum Duff

    ‘the province is in the grip of an *affordable* housing crisis’

    In that case I might just do an Alastair – buy another one!

    Sorry, Gonzo – I suspect it’s a typo but I couldn’t resist it.

    Anyway, the idea that this Government will even twitch its little finger to interfere in a housing market which is coining untold – and rising – (b?)millions in stamp duty, inheritance tax and capital gains tax out of a sector which doesn’t require them to do anything but collect, must have been invented by a gabshite who is more interested in bullshit headlines than facts and on electioneering rather than problem solving. Keep it up, Alastair. More garbage from the party that turned its back on its own electorate and their consequential problems after urging them not to pay their rates not too many years ago.

  • Harry

    Crataegus is right – more co-operatives are needed as a challenge and counter-weight to the profiteering shits who would turn people’s need for shelter into pure profiteering. Also rent control should be introduced, since much greater numbers of people have a right to a home at a reasonable price than have a right to profit at the expense of other people’s human needs. If the gombeens want to make money let them invest in start-ups and actually create a productive and fair society. The alternative is what you can see across the south of ireland – indigenous industry laid waste while arseholes screw people for a simple roof over their heads, all the while luring them into the same greedy scheme with the catch-call “if you’re not in, you can’t win!”.

    The southerners are passive and allow themselves to be fucked – have done so for 70 years one way or another. Let’s hope the northerners aren’t so passive or foolish.

    Or so greedy.

  • Dougal

    “Is a ‘social democrat’ like Alasdair really going to legislate against market forces? “

    I don’t think it is as clear-cut as you suggest BG. I can’t see it being against the ethos of a social democrat to legislate in this way, presumably via the planning route so long as it is not favouring exclusively one echelon of society. It is certainly in keeping with socialist thinking to ensure that adequate and affordable housing exist for everyone!

    Thank God someone is listening to the bread and butter issues that people are talking about. Now this really is an issue which is cross-community!

  • Animus

    Why the focus on young people? The people I feel sorriest for are people in their mid to late 30s (or older) who aren’t on the property ladder and probably never will be, unless their parents die and leave them a house. Married couples who hate each other would be advised to stay together, not for the sake of the children, but because they will never own a house again if they split.

    Even if co-ownership went higher, salaries are not rising with the rate of house prices. No point getting a co-ownership scheme if the resulting mortgage leaves you unable to pay for electricity.

    Evidently the new flats at the Ormeau Bakery site are going to be ‘affordable’ which is about £150,000. That requires at least two incomes and a good deposit to be manageable.

  • Harry

    Things are getting harder not easier but because people have access to cheap flights and X-boxes they believe the future is better than the past. Seems to me that with the end of the cold war the need in the west of europe for social welfare provision and ethics about people’s rights are being stripped away bit by bit – after all, with communism gone as a viable threat from the east there’s no need to worry about revolution from within the western economies any more. Now apparently we can ‘no longer afford’ all these things – even though we could afford them for 50 years when the alternative in the west was revolution, especially after the second world war when these societies were full of people who had just been fighting and who were in no mood to take any shit.

    Looks like we’re rapidly heading back towards the victorian era and first on the agenda is the need to fragment society so as undo any coherent counter-force to the current trends.

  • Dessertspoon

    Doomed doomed we’re all doomed!!!! I read that there is a glut of properties available to rent because so many eejits have bought properties as buy to let, problem is the rents they need to get to service the mortgages they have are also becoming unaffordable…I don’t know what the answer is…..but another question I have is where are all these high paid jobs that these people have to be able to get the huge mortgages in the first place? I know some people are getting 100% mortgages and 5 times their salary but with prices in some areas for pretty average family homes getting up to half a million the myth of the low wage economy in Norn Iron is obviously just that!!!!

    Sorry I’m just a bit fed up that I will probably never own my own home because right now I can’t afford to save for the deposit and save for retirement and yeah and just generally have a life worth living.

  • Louie

    Looks like we’re rapidly heading back towards the victorian era and first on the agenda is the need to fragment society so as undo any coherent counter-force to the current trends.

    Yup.

    Great idea New Labour – why don’t we allow housing to become so expensive that no-one can afford to marry or have children and then we can justify letting thousands of desperate, non-unionised migrants into our country to boost the numbers? They can’t afford to mind living three to a room in Rachmann-type tenancies or paying half their salaries for the privilege.

    Nice story in the BT at lunchtime today about how Belfast has been voted city of the forever-young on account of our high number of childless couples. Could it possibly be because we can’t fucking AFFORD them?

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Why are house prices spiralling?

    1. Investors
    2. The rapid rise in immigrants who require housing.
    3. The ban on building on the countyside.
    4. The lack of buiding land being made available close to towns.

    It is not the cost of the houses that is the problem it is the cost of the land they are being built on, if more land is made available then the price of the houses will fall.

    Simple solution – the Government should zone land for starter housing and give it planning permission with a fixed top sale price of housing built on it and then vest it if it is not sold within say 2 years. This would see a rapid reduction in the cost of starter houses.

  • Harry

    The cost of housing is just one aspect, the cost of rent is another. Not everyone is obsessed with owning a house – I’m perfectly happy to rent if the rent is reasonable at the present time. Perhpas it’s because people are insecure that they want to own a home or perhaps there’s a bit of snobbiness about it. In this society it seems a big deal but as we all know this is not so in other societies, such as Germany.

    Northern Ireland is experiencing massive house price growth mainly as a spillover from the celtic tiger. The house price growth of the celtic tiger is occurring largely as a result of massive credit liquidity, not because of the strength of the country’s industrial base. House price growth has everything to do with short-term speculative profits and little to do with long-term sustainable fundamentals – it’s a bubble.

    Housing should not be allowed to be a zone of speculation when the social damage it does after even a short time is obvious. However with Ahern and Fianna Fail in power in the south and with thatcherism the vogue across the north it will take serious social unrest to stop these pig ignorant bastards.

    Real business creates things and creates value. Building thousands of homes based on a credit bubble is not real business and it is not sustainable. It is gombeenism.

    Try making software and electric cars instead.

  • Crataegus

    I wish Government bodies would give me a find fee, or a percentage, or would sell me land if I came up with proposals for some of the land that they own.

    I am not talking about the larger tracks at places like Hydebank (obvious one), but the acres and acres of land in unpromising corners scattered all over the place. Much of it just needs a bit of imagination. I reckon that if we used this wasted land we would find extra space for tens of thousands of dwellings (mainly apartments).

    OK not everyone’s cup of tea, but it would make a noticeable impact on overall demand, would increase urban density, and would make local services and public transport more viable.

    I would rather spend a few thousand employing Architects than spend millions on very average sites. Let’s have a serious look at our assets.

  • Henry94

    Houses in the north are cheap. If you are thinking of buying, buy now and in five years time you’ll be delighted with yourself.

    It’s always tough at the start.

  • Harry

    The mortgage system represents an enormous waste of human potential.

  • lesh

    House prices in NI are higher on average than the UK excluding London – salaries are also lower.

    Why with house prices having risen upwards of 40% are people still wanting to buy.

    People will be burnt – rents are much lower than mortgages.
    Salaries are low compared to the UK and companies are going to move out of NI in the next few years.

    For a region with a dependence culture – little native world class acitivity prices now will be laughable in a few years when the House Price Crash comes.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Harry: “more co-operatives are needed as a challenge and counter-weight to the profiteering shits who would turn people’s need for shelter into pure profiteering. Also rent control should be introduced, since much greater numbers of people have a right to a home at a reasonable price than have a right to profit at the expense of other people’s human needs.”

    More cooperatives? Reality check number one — do you honestly believe a collection of well intentioned amateurs would be capable of navigating the baroque and broken regulations for building?

    Rent control? Pick up a copy of the New York Times and open to the classifieds, specifically the apartments for rent section. THAT is what rent control accomplishes. Hint: rent control does nothing to increase the number of units available. Usually, it retards development, since, as a rule, rent increases do not rise at market rates, whilst ownership and construction costs *DO* rise at market rates.

    When the problem is supply, then, logically, one should move to increase supply, not some half-assed governmental control-freakery reagrding the price. That is what sowed the seeds of the problem in the first place.

  • Hogan from County Tyrone

    Typical slugger hacks snipeing at an MP trying to raise an important issue.

    Get a life.

  • T.Ruth

    The problem is the cost of land and the government aspiration to build 70percent of new homes on brownfield sites while restricting building in what has become known as the green belt.the substitution effect economically is to drive land prices up and it is the landowner who makes a killing while young people cannot get on the housing ladder.This is exacerbated by a most ineffective Planning System within which one wonders at the power and influence some major developers have with the planners.
    Ddevelopers take options all over the place and only need to strike lucky in a few to hit the jackpot.They build up land banks and let them sit until the value ratchets up increasing the scarcity.
    Housing associations should be permitted to build in green built locations of their choice(within some broad environmental limits) with government vesting the land at a reasonable price so that the costs can be kept down. These houses should be sold exclusively to first time buyers with a claw back lease if they try to sell before a specified period. Builders and developers would not be in this equation-which would take the heat out of the housing market.
    T.Ruth

  • Crataegus

    I reckon we need to increase the number of dwellings constructed each year by about 6000 – 7000 units a year to meet demand. Bearing in mind in the last 5 years production has been between 14000 – 17000 units a year. That means increasing production by 50% per year. Until we do that there will always be a shortage unless the population drops or we all decide to live in communes.

    Dread

    More cooperatives? Reality check number one—do you honestly believe a collection of well intentioned amateurs would be capable of navigating the baroque and broken regulations for building?

    Why not? They employ Architects etc to do the necessary? Not for everyone but may be an avenue worth considering for some?

    T Ruth

    This is exacerbated by a most ineffective Planning System within which one wonders at the power and influence some major developers have with the planners.

    I am a developer and I have very little good to say about the Planning Service. As the years go by I increasing wonder what positive role they actually have! What is their purpose? Are they necessary in their current form? Is much of what they do of any value to anyone?

    I think the root of the problem is a department that has lost a coherent vision of its criteria and purpose. Perhaps this is because of the political vacuum.

    Someone really needs to take this department and sort it out. Our economy cannot afford it in its current form and we need a more positive, efficient approach so we can maximise future development gains.

    The whole process needs a rethink along with the roles of the Roads Service, Water Service, Rivers Agency, Building Control, Health and Safety Executive etc. Can it be rationalised and who should have the lead role? It is interesting to compare the Building Control Service of many councils, which is often excellent, with that of the Planning Service.

  • Harry

    claw-back leases punish people for not being speculators while miring them in financial disadvantage simply becuase they only have 150,000 to pay between 2 hard-working people rather than 200,000 or 300,000. They are the gombeens idea of ‘justice’.

    Dread, I don’t expect co-operatives to make a huge impact on residential housing prices because I know most people have other things to be doing and may not have the ability or mindset to deal with those issues. I’m just saying that it’s something I’m prepared to look at myself and something which in principle should eb more highlighted. After all, it’s only in recent times (last 2 centuries) that urban man has believed others should build a dwelling for him; before that, for millennia, it was natural to build your dwelling yourself, just like most animals do. What exactly is natural about letting a species of people who are notorious for their greed and exploitation take sole control of such a fundamental human activity? I also believe that viable, high profile co-operatives would focus people’s minds on the ludicrous anomalies within the mortgage system – for example, that currently 10-15 years worth of the productive life of one person is directed solely towards securing their shelter. Why not take 18-24 months out of work and build the damned thing with your own hands, thus saving yourself years of your productive life?
    The great draw of the mortgage system for people is the capital increase which it gains over time as an advantage upon retirement – it is this which draws most people into the system. It seems to me however a mugs game.

    Rent control need not necessarily retard development – it can be reasonably flexible and it can put the brakes on the use of a fundamental human need for the purposes of sheer exploitation. Residential developers can still make money if they’re not looking to make outrageous returns and they can also speculate in the commercial development market, where they can make big money. Otherwise they can invest in real business, you know, that actually makes things.

    In Holland if you feel you’re being ripped off you can get the local council to come around with a tape measure and say whetehr you’re being overcharged for the quality of your accomodation. Yet Holland has had one of the most stable and prosperous economies for centuries. The world didn’t fall apart.

    As for the idea that scarcity of supply is the cause of high prices, those who believe this are obviously uninformed about the realities of modern day ireland.Land banks are certainly an issue but not residential supply. It is speculation and cheap credit that has led to the high prices in the south. This is now having its effect in the north as the gombeens rush over to the border to leech off the people there now.

    They wouldn’t come near the place when there was trouble but now they want to become the people’s landlords. They should be run out of it.

    There is no conflict between fair rents/housing costs and an enterprising society but there certainly is a conflict between gombeenism and a fair society and – as we can see from the south – between gombeenism and a truly enterprising society.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Harry: “Dread, I don’t expect co-operatives to make a huge impact on residential housing prices because I know most people have other things to be doing and may not have the ability or mindset to deal with those issues. I’m just saying that it’s something I’m prepared to look at myself and something which in principle should eb more highlighted.”

    And if it works for you, great. Tell me how it works out.

    Harry: “After all, it’s only in recent times (last 2 centuries) that urban man has believed others should build a dwelling for him; before that, for millennia, it was natural to build your dwelling yourself, just like most animals do.”

    A goodly chunk of which is the result of state control-freakery — zoning, licensing, etc. One rarely solves the mess created by state-control by more state-control.

    Harry: “What exactly is natural about letting a species of people who are notorious for their greed and exploitation take sole control of such a fundamental human activity?”

    Its a natural consequence of law and lawyers, Harry. There are those who, by dint of ego, believe they know better than you or I what we should do with out lives. The regulations around building are simply one more facet of that. Your pipe-dream of “do you own thing” housing went out with electricity and fire-codes.

    Harry: “I also believe that viable, high profile co-operatives would focus people’s minds on the ludicrous anomalies within the mortgage system – for example, that currently 10-15 years worth of the productive life of one person is directed solely towards securing their shelter. Why not take 18-24 months out of work and build the damned thing with your own hands, thus saving yourself years of your productive life?”

    For one, the hard part of the price, if I am following the thread correctly, arises from a shortage of buildable land, arising from the “we know best” thinking of the government. Secondly, I suspect you will find DIY is a little beyond the scope of more mortals and, thirdly, it would still end up requiring the blessing and intervention of the same class of slugs and parasites that created the problem in the first place.

    Harry: “Rent control need not necessarily retard development – it can be reasonably flexible and it can put the brakes on the use of a fundamental human need for the purposes of sheer exploitation.”

    My experience and knowledge suggests otherwise, Harry. Ultimately, rent-control becomes a political issue, which is where things start to go to skittles, politicians being the generally spineless whores they are. Holland is an outlier — a small, until recently stable population (low population growth, birthrate below replacement, etc.). Likewise, you do not comment on the state of the Dutch real-estate market, which would also have an impact. What works in one place is not inherently applicable to another nation with another set of cultural and economic norms. In my experience, rent-control invites more trouble than it solves.

    Harry: “This is now having its effect in the north as the gombeens rush over to the border to leech off the people there now. ”

    And its a free market, Harry — As Crataegus will point out, the construction rate has been far too low for far too long, creating a scarcity. As for speculators, it’s their money and their bet that the markets will go in one way or another. Cheap money also helps the first time home-buyer, although cheap money also heats up prices a touch as well.

    Harry: “There is no conflict between fair rents/housing costs and an enterprising society but there certainly is a conflict between gombeenism and a fair society and – as we can see from the south – between gombeenism and a truly enterprising society. ”

    And that is where you’re wrong, or at least potentially wrong. Rent control, as it is commonly practiced, is inconsistant with enterprise society. Subject to political manipulation and political cowardice, rent control becomes just as much a game of winners and losers. For starters, it will inhibit construction — definately in the short term as a result of uncertainty and probably in the long term, depending on facts and circumstances. As costs rise and rents do not, squeezed land-lords will “economize” on up-keep. There will be some agitation against the rent-control regieme, leading to some segments being de-regulated, as in NYC and “luxury” units. As a result, the majority of new units built will be those deregulated units, with the bare minimum of “controlled” units necessary — that ‘s not greed, but rational economic thought — why would a sane businessman lock himself in to a losing proposition?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Crataegus: “Why not? They employ Architects etc to do the necessary? Not for everyone but may be an avenue worth considering for some? ”

    If the problem is that the regulations have created such a mess that professionals are either stymied or simply exploiting the mess, I suspect that well-intentioned amateurs would simply make a mess. As a minimum, they will still have to navigate this web of regulations and diktats, employing and empowering the same collection of professionals and politicos.

  • Aaron McDaid

    Why all this talk of cooperatives and coownership and fiddling with stamp duty? It’s all nonsense. It’ll just put prices up and the same people will end up with the houses.

    If there are 200 people after 100 houses, the most rich/desperate 100 people will get them. Everybody will push themselves to the limit of their income to get the most expensive house they can, and this behaviour is gauranteed no matter what fiddling is done by the government.

    Now, is there any actual evidence that it’s harder to buy a house now than it was in the past? I suspect that nothing has really changed and simply more people than ever have got it into their head that they want a house. What proportion of 30 year olds own houses now? I suspect it’s higher, not lower, than it was 20 years ago.

    Previous generations were happy with renting, why does everybody get it into their head that they can own a house?

    The fundamentals are:
    1) Number of people looking for a house (incorporating whether they are single or not, i.e. wasting a whole house on one person isn’t great).
    2) Number of houses available.

    If we’re not going to build loadsa new houses, we simply need to clamp down on houses being left empty, discourage single people from owning a big house to themselves, and remind people that they don’t actually need to own a house especially if they are single.

    If a single person manages to buy a big house for themselves it could just as easily be looked at as a failure of the market/government, not a success.

    Here’s a great idea: single people to live in small houses or share, and families live in big houses.

    Fix the above and the market will sort itself out. Making it easy for somebody to own a house is possible only if you build houses or if you make it difficult for somebody else to own a house. Tell me who you’re going to discourage before giving me a sob story.

    Tax breaks for couples with at least one child or married (on the assumption married couples will likely make a child soon). Tax punishments for young single people buying a house or for second houses. This will mean the current houses are more efficiently used, ultimately cutting prices and generally being a much better situation. Single people that really want a house to themselves can get one if they like, but let them pay for the noses for the privilege of wasting our precious land.

  • Harry

    So people should just bend over and part the cheeks of their arse, because there’s no hope?

    I beg to differ.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    AM: “If there are 200 people after 100 houses, the most rich/desperate 100 people will get them. Everybody will push themselves to the limit of their income to get the most expensive house they can, and this behaviour is gauranteed no matter what fiddling is done by the government. ”

    Short of central control / dictatorship. In economics, it’s called “an auction,” whilst in the real-estate world it’s called a “seller’s market.”

    AM: “If a single person manages to buy a big house for themselves it could just as easily be looked at as a failure of the market/government, not a success.”

    So, its to be Commissar McDaid… how do you figure the above? It is not a failure of government, snce government should not be in the business of micro-managing either the real estate market or an individuals life. Likewise, it’s not a failure of the market, since a willing buyer and a willing seller had a meeting of the minds and did some business together, transfering a piece of real property in exchange for specie.

    AM: “Here’s a great idea: single people to live in small houses or share, and families live in big houses.”

    So, Commissar, who will be informing on their neighbors? who will being to defining what is “big house” or “little house?”

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Harry: “So people should just bend over and part the cheeks of their arse, because there’s no hope? I beg to differ. ”

    Then come up with a solution that works, rather than idly navel-gazing about the days when you could throw up any old daub and wattle cottage with a thatched roof.

    The easiest for prices to drop is to encourage supply. You complain about prices and state control, but it is the state control and mismanagement that brought about the prices. Likewise, increasing state control almost never provides a solution to a problem brough about by state control.

    Cut the taxes associated with selling a second house to encourage folks to sell. It would make more property available without being coercive. Freeing property from speculation portfolios might be a little harder, but the same process could apply — make selling an attractive option to those sitting on idle properties.

  • Harry

    government should not be in the business of micro-managing either the real estate market

    What do you think tax breaks for developers are? Or capital gains write-offs or prime government land given to developers in exchange for fairly derisory amounts of so-called ‘affordable’ housing – all of which happens in ireland at present.

    What do you think generous financial packages offered by the banks to the very wealthy for the purposes of development are, when set against the less generous and often punitive terms offered to ordinary joes for the purposes of securing precisely the shelter said developer has built? Do you seriously believe this is a ‘free market’? What exactly is ‘free’ about it? Those with financial muscle are more empowered than those without financial muscle in such a way as to dictate the terms of the very roof over the less empowered individual’s head. Cartels, oligarchies and old boys clubs are enabled while the fodder – disunited and generally financially unsophistictaed – are laid out to be herded according to the whims of those more powerful than them. Where is the ‘freedom’ in this system that seeks to impose these financial conditions on people in regards to their basic needs without significant redress in principle and in fact?

    Or in more down to earth terms, how is it that in ireland, a country which is 4% urbanised with no shortage of land, that house prices are enormous? Why is it that in ireland the cost of land represents almost half the cost of a house whereas in other countries within and without the EU land is a fraction of the proportion of the price of a house?

    This has nothing to do with supply and demand – it is now well known that a quarter of a million houses lie empty around this country and that the rate of house price completion across the land currently equals that to be found in countries almost 8 times the size of ireland.

    There is no such thing as a ‘free market’ – there are decisions on taxation, planning policies, financial offerings, zoning, immigration, interest rates, etc. There are a thousand different decisions intervening in the market which advantage or disadvantage those affected by them every single day. The prioritisation of the right of people to shelter at a reasonable rate is no more state control freakery than tax breaks on capital gains tax is for developers or the ‘land for housing’ deals currently being undertaken by this allegedly laissez-faire government.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Harry: “What do you think tax breaks for developers are? Or capital gains write-offs or prime government land given to developers in exchange for fairly derisory amounts of so-called ‘affordable’ housing – all of which happens in ireland at present. ”

    If you are incapable of realizing the difference between economic policy and dictating who may buy how large a house based upon an arbitrary profile, Harry, then there is little worth in going much further in this conversation… but as I am the indulgent sort, let see what else we have here…

    Harry: “What do you think generous financial packages offered by the banks to the very wealthy for the purposes of development are, when set against the less generous and often punitive terms offered to ordinary joes for the purposes of securing precisely the shelter said developer has built?”

    Smaller borrowers are, typically, a higher risk. By their nature, larger borrowers are more partner than creditor — what’s the old line — borrow 10,000, you’re a borrower, borrow, 100,000,000, you’re a partner?

    Besides, who told you life was going to be fair?

    Harry: “Or in more down to earth terms, how is it that in ireland, a country which is 4% urbanised with no shortage of land, that house prices are enormous? Why is it that in ireland the cost of land represents almost half the cost of a house whereas in other countries within and without the EU land is a fraction of the proportion of the price of a house? ”

    Government intereference / politics / bureaucracy — limit the land which can be built upon and you make the land you *can* build upon that much more expensive, especially in a growing population. Likewise, limit the sort of housing that can be built and you make houses in the limited class more expensive. For example, folks looking to “step up” out of starter homes find that larger houses are limited in supply, so two things happen — the price of houses in the next step up are big higher and turn over of “starter” houses slows.

    Additionally, for reasons I can’t entirely fathom, the Irish system is biased in favor of farmland. In a double dip that would make your “evil developers” pale by comparison, the state provides farmers “with most of their income and when they sell land, the average taxpayer is also screwed.”

    Ireland is screwed up because its not a free market, Harry. A few useful links…

    http://www.finfacts.com/irelandbusinessnews/publish/article_10004680.shtml

    http://www.finfacts.com/irelandbusinessnews/publish/article_10005314.shtml

    Harry: “The prioritisation of the right of people to shelter at a reasonable rate is no more state control freakery than tax breaks on capital gains tax is for developers or the ‘land for housing’ deals currently being undertaken by this allegedly laissez-faire government. ”

    The right to shelter does not equate with a trendy rent-controlled aparment in a desirable neighborhood, Harry. The system is screwed up because of out-moded laws, government intrusion into the markets and a lack of will to correct past mistakes. Your suggestions would not correct the underlying problem of supply. Your demonisation of builders ignores the role the government has played in creating this mess. Rather than have them correct the mess, you want some Stalinistic price controls and central planning, which are doomed to fail.

  • SuperSoupy

    One of Gonzo’s central points keeps getting ignored:

    The SDLP decided to front their housing dificulties for first time buyers message with a landlord. The kind of person causing these difficulties.

  • The SDLP decided to front their housing dificulties for first time buyers message with a landlord. The kind of person causing these difficulties.

    Strategic error undoubtedly, but it doesn’t take away from the seriousness of this problem for twenty-somethings. It’s a big problem for me, and I’m fortunate enough to be earning well. I can’t help thinking some of these people getting themselves into mountains of debt to buy a pokey house with an acquaintance are going to be in really, really, deep shit in a couple of years’ time when they want to get married and can no longer stand the sight of their housemate in their jointly mortgaged 65 square metre plywood box.

    At least down South the sheer number of empty properties and wannabe landlords are keeping rents very cheap relative to prices. Because of our stupid planning system, PPS12 in the country and not enough land zoned for housing in Greater Belfast, we don’t have enough dwellings in the first place. When I pointed this out when PPS12 was introuced, I think only me, Cthulhu and Crataegus pointed out the problems that would come with it and we were pilloried by the united hordes of Slugger greeny-leftiedom. Sin in haste, repent at leisure.

  • SuperSoupy

    Sammy,

    I don’t see expansion into the green belt and rural planning as the answer.

    The ‘need’ to own is a bigger issue to me. Former Housing Executive property being bought up and left empty by speculators. New builds being built on an apartment and speculator basis. The failure to deliver any social housing by developers.

    A speculators market not a true shortage.

    There are enough homes. Some people own too many of them.

  • Harry

    Rents in the south may seem cheap relative to prices but that’s only because prices are astronomical. Rents, relative to wages, are very high.

    The system is screwed up because of out-moded laws, government intrusion into the markets and a lack of will to correct past mistakes.

    The system is screwed because of low interest rates creating a credit bubble, with no appreciable social democratic component to the government in power. No-one can opt out of this system, we are all required to conform for we all need a place to live.

    Ireland has a history of landlordism and exploitation. Many on this island believe that mimicing the lifestyle of the ‘Big House’ is what constitutes success and is to be admired and emulated. That is why the parliament itself meets in second hand british accomodation to this day – a former Big House – rather than have the pride, vision and independence to build its own parliament.

    If free markets really are the answer (whatever they actually are) then those who advocate them won’t mind putting in place special provisions for ameliorating the damaging effects of such policies along the way until such time as their free market nirvana is obtained. After all, they have no problem about implementing special and targetted neo-liberal policies when required to advantage the wealthy, so we can equally expect special and targetted social democratic policies too to prevent damage and pain.

    Or are they just ideologues who don’t give a fuck and whose economic literacy is considerably more limited then they’d have us believe?

  • Aaron McDaid

    Dread Cthulhu,
    I certainly wasn’t advocating any sort of communist agency assigning houses to people. At the end of my comment I made clear that if people want to hoard and waste houses, then let them as long as they pay enough money for the privilege.

    As Harry has pointed out there is already plenty of state intervention in the housing market and I am arguing against those who are calling for even more ill thought out intervention. We need to scrap the current complicated and counterproductive policies, make an straightforward decision over what intervention we want, and implement sane policies towards that goal. That means putting in some incentives against obviously wasteful acts like a single person living in a big house or flat. It’s no more communist than using the free market to buy and sell carbon credits – let government set an objective (more efficient use of housing) and let the market do its thing.

    SuperSoupy,
    Landlords aren’t causing any difficulty here. In fact, I would say a landlord renting a house out to a number of people is better than selling it to one person who’s going to live there on their own.

    Too many people get caught up in thinking about the money and ownership side of things here. For example, I’m not crying that I haven’t been able to buy my own helicopter. You don’t have to own a house to have somewhere to live. Fundamentally, we have houses on the one hand, and people who need accomodation on the other, and we need to match them up.

    Also, the government and any economist sees that low inflation in general is a good thing, and it’s easy to control it with interest rates. Similarly, the government should set a target average house price increase rate about 2% also, and change tax policies such as capital gains tax to bring it about. The housing market doesn’t actually create any real wealth (unlike the stock market for example, which does us all a favour by shutting down rubbish companies and making that capital available for good companies) so high house prices don’t do anybody any good, except for the vested interests that already own houses.

  • Aaron McDaid

    Harry,
    That is why the [Free State] parliament itself meets in second hand british accomodation to this day – a former Big House – rather than have the pride, vision and independence to build its own parliament.

    Sorry for following this diversion, but I can’t let this go. I’ll rip up my copy of the Proclamation if the Free State decides to copy the scandalous boil on the face of the earth that is the Scottish Parliament building.

  • Soupy – those new developments in Glenavy, Stoneyford, Lagmore, etc. that are helping Paul Butler in his election campaign – why do they get snapped up so fast? Because we have a chronic housing shortage; we have a rising population and rapidly shrinking size of families, as well as more permanent singles and more marriage breakdowns. We need more homes.

    In Belfast practically the only new homes that have been built are apartments, and not everybody wants to live in one. In fact most people don’t. Planners and green ideologues want to force people to because it suits their agenda, but most people just rent until they can afford the house they want instead. And lots of those new flats are just lying permanently empty.

    And PPS 12 is an absolute grade A disaster in rural areas. It is an English regulation designed for English settlement patterns which is completely incompatible with the sort of dispersed settlement traditional in Ireland.

    People want to have their cake and eat it in this place – we have growing population and we need new homes. Let’s put them in the right places, with the right transport, the right sewerage and roads infrastructure, planned new schools and bus routes etc. At the minute, we let the pressure build up to intolerable levels and then do what was done in Lagmore – buld a couple of thousand houses and then sort of go “oh shit” years later when we realise we haven’t built the infrastructure to go with it. And Lagmore isn’t even the worst case, they sort of tried there.

  • Lesh

    If house prices are so high in NI why not just move abroad.
    Or shut up and stip complaining.

    If you can’t afford to buy – then just save money and rent. You’ve missed the boat.
    If you have bought and can afford your mortgage then fair enough.

    While NI’s population is increasing – the rate of new properties entering the market is not keeping up with demand.
    Here both supply and demand are leading to the spike in prices.

    But if house prices are so high then are there any unoccupied houses?
    I’m sure that there are empty houses – just lying there, especially in areas which are (were) run by paramilitaries.

    Notwithstanding this weeks correction – the stock market is a better place to store/gain wealth.
    With rental yields below what you might get from a typical savings account.
    Those renting are not missing out.

    Since rents in NI are so low – much lower than the cost of a typical repayment/IO mortgage – how can people still see landlords as greedy people.
    The smart ones have already cashed out of the market.

    Don’t be Paddy last!

  • Harry

    The gombeen has spoken!

    You’ve missed the boat (the gombeen screw-thy-neighbour boat).

    There is no talking to these people – their minds are simply too small, their imaginations too restricted to move beyond what’s in the poster in the front window of the local AIB.

    These fools will never make a world class economy.

    Get your hand out of my pocket you piddle-brained gombeen fuck!

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Harry: “The system is screwed because of low interest rates creating a credit bubble, with no appreciable social democratic component to the government in power. No-one can opt out of this system, we are all required to conform for we all need a place to live.”

    Those have exacerbated it, certainly, but the underlying structural faults in the laws are what created the problem — some of the loop-holes that are being exploited — in the first place.

    Harry: “Many on this island believe that mimicing the lifestyle of the ‘Big House’ is what constitutes success and is to be admired and emulated. That is why the parliament itself meets in second hand british accomodation to this day – a former Big House – rather than have the pride, vision and independence to build its own parliament. ”

    Upgrading one’s domus as one’s family expands or as resources allow is as natural as sun-rise and almost as sure as death and taxes. Speaking of which, I notice that you paused not a whit to note that 28% of the cost of a house it TAX. The government has little incentive to lower prices, since they are a partner in the process, with a grand rake-off of monies from the real estate market.

    Harry: “If free markets really are the answer (whatever they actually are) then those who advocate them won’t mind putting in place special provisions for ameliorating the damaging effects of such policies along the way until such time as their free market nirvana is obtained.”

    Gee… and here I was talking about closing the loopholes that created the problem…

    Harry, if you tone rhetoric a notch, take a minute to read what I actually write, as opposed to looking for an opportunity to rant, we might actually realize we’re not too far off — we claim have the same goal in mind — straightening out the mess. I’m just wanting to straighten out the policy, using economics and create a durable solution, whilst you seem to want to use the problem as a political club to indulge in a little class warfare.

    AM: “I am arguing against those who are calling for even more ill thought out intervention. We need to scrap the current complicated and counterproductive policies, make an straightforward decision over what intervention we want, and implement sane policies towards that goal. That means putting in some incentives against obviously wasteful acts like a single person living in a big house or flat.”

    Fix the macro level problems before you even worry about micro problems like folks buying houses bigger than you would like them to, Aaron. Any political intrusion into the market creates unintended consequences. The artificial ceiling on land available for urbanization has “excited” land prices. A percentage or two shift in that policy would buy time to address the larger systemic problems.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Animus:

    Why the focus on young people? The people I feel sorriest for are people in their mid to late 30s (or older) who aren’t on the property ladder and probably never will be, unless their parents die and leave them a house.

    Actually, most of the people in that age bracket that I know bought houses years ago when they were still cheap. They have fairly low mortgage repayments and they’re doing alright. It’s the people buying houses right now that are possibly heading for trouble.

    Harry:

    Things are getting harder not easier but because people have access to cheap flights and X-boxes they believe the future is better than the past. Seems to me that with the end of the cold war the need in the west of europe for social welfare provision and ethics about people’s rights are being stripped away bit by bit – after all, with communism gone as a viable threat from the east there’s no need to worry about revolution from within the western economies any more. Now apparently we can ‘no longer afford’ all these things – even though we could afford them for 50 years when the alternative in the west was revolution, especially after the second world war when these societies were full of people who had just been fighting and who were in no mood to take any shit.

    Jesus, Harry, what on earth are you on about. The idea that people have a right to own a house came from Thatcher in the early 1980s, and she pushed for that to happen through right to buy schemes and other things. It’s got sod all to do with communism, the likelihood of revolution, or the consumer society or any of that other bollocks.

    Property are sold at the market price. House prices are high because there are people out there who are willing to pay the asking amount. The fundamental problem has to be on the supply side, but it also doesn’t help that people have been investing increasingly in property rather than stocks/shares/insurance.

    People proposing intervention by the state are missing the point. Sticking controls on rents won’t help (rents are low anyway, if I rented my house out now, the gross rental income would not cover the mortgage), messing with stamp duty won’t help (the market price will not change, but a greater proportion of the price will be siphoned off to the government). We have to decide whether it’s acceptable to allow rich people to own property purely for investing in and not for living in. I don’t think it’s acceptable for people to sit on houses that aren’t occupied and I think they should be penalized heavily by the tax system.

    Aaron:

    Tax breaks for couples with at least one child or married (on the assumption married couples will likely make a child soon). Tax punishments for young single people buying a house or for second houses. This will mean the current houses are more efficiently used, ultimately cutting prices and generally being a much better situation. Single people that really want a house to themselves can get one if they like, but let them pay for the noses for the privilege of wasting our precious land.

    No offence, but you can go straight to hell if you think you’re going to make me take part in a religious and/or legal ceremony in order to get a property discount. Whether people are married or not is none of your business, or the government’s business. Stalinistic social engineering of this kind is wrong.

    A friend of mine is a mortgage adviser at one of the large banks, and often tells me about cases when people have signed up to a joint mortgage and subsequently have had a falling out and one partner wants to get out. They get a shock when the bank refers them to their contract. They’re then faced with the choice of either tolerating each other under one roof, or trying to find other accomodation – not easy when you’re forced to pay a mortgage on a house you can’t live in.

    Truth is that there is a demand which needs to be satisfied; the government should be fixing the planning system, sorting out these stupid planning restrictions which artificially inflate the value of brownfield sites, and curbing speculators so that this can be done. I’m pretty sure the Assembly will have the power to deal with this. Aside from the property market, the planning system at the moment is wreaking havoc with our suburban architecture. Lovely Victorian houses and terraces are being demolished in order to build high density apartment blocks. We’re going to regret this in the future.

  • Aaron McDaid

    Comrade Stalin,
    I agree entirely – it shouldn’t be based on marriage. Scrap that idea from my original comment.

    Anyway, I don’t think anyone would defend a landlord sitting on an empty house. Some sort of tax (dis)incentive would be supported by most people I guess. The logical conclusion is that houses occupied by only one person isn’t great either and shouldn’t be encouraged.

    I don’t really think there’s a problem on the supply side. We have plenty of houses as it is. It is true that for various reasons (family breakup for example) we do need more houses per person than before, but we shouldn’t forget that many people have flexibility.

    Much of the ‘demand’ nowadays is nothing to do with any requirement for more houses. Some people have a desire to live on their own but sharing a house should and will suffice if they can’t afford it. Much of the ‘demand’ is entirely speculative demand caused by young people who are perfectly happy sharing rented accomodation but feel the need to buy a house quickly before the prices go up any more. The solution is simple, just stop (average) prices increasing any faster than inflation. The speculative demand would stop and hey presto, we’d only have the ‘real’ demand.

    Controlling average house prices is no more “price-fixing” than when the government controls (average) inflation via interest rates. The government doesn’t stop individuals setting prices (and price differentials) whatever way the like, but simply moderates the total economy in the interests of all. Similarly, the government could easily set and reach a target house-inflation rate. The only reason it won’t do so is because the government is beholden to the selfish vested interests.

    Compare with the famous tulip mania. There wasn’t any real demand for tulips then, just as house demand now is actually lower than it seems. People should buy houses when they actually want/need one and when they can afford it, just like any other commodity.

  • Harry

    Dread: the underlying structural faults in the laws are what created the problem—some of the loop-holes that are being exploited—in the first place.

    Does this actually mean anything or is it just reaganomic waffle?

    Dread: The artificial ceiling on land available for urbanization has “excited” land prices.

    You persist in believing this but this is only one component of the astronomic increases in house prices and rent across the republic of ireland. The main reason is credit liquidity and the creation of a bubble, with the self-reinforcing momentum that if you don’t get on the ladder you’ll be banjaxed one way or another anyway, an attitude well exemplified by that gombeen bollox ‘Lesh’ above.

    Comrade Stalin: Jesus, Harry, what on earth are you on about. The idea that people have a right to own a house came from Thatcher in the early 1980s, and she pushed for that to happen through right to buy schemes and other things.

    Yes I’m aware of that, especially considering I used to sell council houses to people through insurance schemes when the right-to-buy policy first began – I was at the vanguard of Thatcher’s ‘revolution’.

    It’s got sod all to do with communism, the likelihood of revolution, or the consumer society or any of that other bollocks.

    I think you will find that the iron curtain and the aftermath of the second world war had a great deal to do with the foundation of the welfare state and access to universal third level education. You will note the somewhat suspicious coincidence that these have begun to be rolled back both ideogically and in fact precisely in line with the fall of the USSR. The USSR sitting on the door of western europe certainly had a great deal of influence on the policies pursued by western european governments.

    CS: House prices are high because there are people out there who are willing to pay the asking amount. The fundamental problem has to be on the supply side

    Yes but not because of housing need, rather because of the attractiveness of housing as a speculative asset, quite another form of ‘supply and demand’. As such the rise in house prices is not supported by the underlying use of the asset as a shelter – in other words it’s not supported by ‘fundamentals’ – but rather is the result of so-called ‘investors’ looking to freight whatever object they believe is going to rapidly accumulate in value with their own money, all the while dragging those who would otherwise treat shelter as shelter into a system where they are forced to treat in, now rather than later, as an asset that they must ‘get in on’ otherwise they’ll be severely disadvantaged.
    In the republic of ireland ‘investors’ account for 40% of purchases with an uncertain number of others required to join the bubble now rather than later to protect their interests, even though they may only have wished to treat housing as just that – housing, not speculation.

    In other words, a fundamental human requirement – shelter – is being treated in purely business terms with the market being massively skewed by those (40%) who are looking to make a killing. In business all profit is at someone else’s expense. The question therefore is, what is the balance you strike? Some say, with almost reverential intonation, that ‘the market’ will sort all this out. Clearly this is not happening in the case of ireland – a bubble has been created and its damaging effects are already evident, for individuals as well as for the balance, strength and future viability of the economy.

    A combination of low interest rates, worldwide
    and local credit liquidity on the back of increased global money supply after the 90’s as well as fiscal and monetary policies pursued by the present irish government along with no appreciable social democratic components to counter-weigh the damaging effects of their policies, along with corruption, gombeenism and a passive population who either want to or are forced to buy into this bubble have all contrived to vreate the situation we are now in, a situation that is beginning to have serious reverberations across the border in the north.

    CS: rents are low anyway, if I rented my house out now, the gross rental income would not cover the mortgage

    That doesn’t mean rents are low, that just means that as a landlord the economics of your situation are disadvantageous to you. Rents themselves, relative to wages, are very high. What makes you think your situation is so important that it should be used as the yardstick by which things are defined and measured?

  • Harry

    [cont’d]
    I don’t care about mortgages. I’m happy to pay my way if the rent is reasonable and outside of that people should leave me alone. I don’t owe any gombeen anything for the right to live reasonably for a fair price in my own country.
    I’m interested in making money from actually creating things and selling them, not from extracting increasing amounts of someone’s amount due to what credit amounts they may have access to. There used to be a name for that, used frequently during the time of the last great glut of global free trade – the word was ‘indenture’.

    I was self-employed when I lived on the continent and I am self-employed now. When I used exactly the same services on the continent – such as telephone, internet and rental – I was able to do so within systems that were sufficiently social democratic that the proportion of my income spent on these services was reasonable. In Ireland however, in exactly the same circumstances and using exactly the same services, the effect on my income is punitive. And for what, so that I can help some unproductive jumped-up arriviste who thinks they’re the dogs bollox buy a new top of the range car or screw the bulgarians for an ‘investment’ apartment.

    They can fuck off and stay out of my life. I’m actually interested in creating new things that will ultimately create wealth for this country, these ‘credit surfers’ are just parasites.

  • turntoname

    Lets all live in boats no water charges

  • Lesh

    I have just checked the Gerry O’Connor estate agent website to look at prices.

    Forget your talk on government policies and Gombeenism(?) prices are just unrealistically high.

    A 1 bed flat at the jaws of Sandy Row is on sale for 165k and “CURRENTLY LET AT £420 PER MONTH”
    does this not seem a big of a high valuation?

    For those in their 30’s why even think of buying now unless you are idiotic.
    House prices here were cheap – and those who are clear-sighted exploited that.
    Now prices are high and people are more keen than ever to get into the game.

    While prices may continue to rise in the short/medium/long-term (which is a real gamble) the smart money would be on renting.
    The buy-to-let market in NI has recently seen some large off-loading of properties.
    Landlords that i am friendly with are cashing-in.
    Or buying elsewhere (not in GB/Ireland)

    These guys had the balls to buy when things did not look great and now are seeing huge returns.
    As much as the leftist people like to demonise landlords I have to respect them as they make their money work for them – not just work for their money like everyone-else

    Fear and Greed is driving the market – and the greedy have had their fill – from the Telies article on desperate house hunters you have to feel sorry for them.

    The effect of new rates/water charges and the potential of job losses and a big civil service cut-back coupled with the stagnation in the southern market and potential IR rises are to be played out over the next few months.
    I would price these risks into prices.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I think you will find that the iron curtain and the aftermath of the second world war had a great deal to do with the foundation of the welfare state and access to universal third level education. You will note the somewhat suspicious coincidence that these have begun to be rolled back both ideogically and in fact precisely in line with the fall of the USSR. The USSR sitting on the door of western europe certainly had a great deal of influence on the policies pursued by western european governments.

    I don’t think there’s a suspicious coincidence at all; they had a welfare state in the USA for example before WW2. Given the circumstances within which the welfare state and other things were created (pissed off soldiers voting Labour, who proceeded to implement policies they’d been talking about doing for decades), it is hard to see a direct correlation with the iron curtain.

    The various justifications behind the removal of free third level education (justifications I do not personally accept) have relatively complicated origins to do with changes in society, in particular changes in the way wealth is distributed. While I am opposed to fees for university education, it remains the case that university attendance is primarily the preserve of the middle classes.

    That doesn’t mean rents are low, that just means that as a landlord the economics of your situation are disadvantageous to you. Rents themselves, relative to wages, are very high.

    It would be interesting to see the data comparing rents to wages over the past 40 years.

    What makes you think your situation is so important that it should be used as the yardstick by which things are defined and measured?

    I made no such claims, just throwing in a personal anecdote which I suspect is true for anyone who has bought a house within the past two years. Even then my prospects for rental are pretty good, given that my house is about a ten minute walk away from a university campus.

    They can fuck off and stay out of my life. I’m actually interested in creating new things that will ultimately create wealth for this country, these ‘credit surfers’ are just parasites.

    Nice rant. Doesn’t add much to things though.

  • Harry

    You said ‘rents are low’. I pointed out that they are not, certainly not across the south of ireland and increasingly not in the north either as a result of the celtic tiger property bubble moving across the border. The average industrial wage in the south is around 31,000 euros, though depending on the sector you work in it differs significantly – in construction the average wage is 40,000 according to finfacts and 44,000 averaged across the public sector.

    20 years ago 1 person on the average wage could pay a mortgage at 3.5 times their salary and bring up a family. Now this is no longer possible – the average wage in the private sector is around 600 euros a week before tax. How can you expect someone on that wage to purchase a house with a mortgage at 1200-1500 euros a month as well as feed and cloth spouse and kids? How can you even expect a couple on 600 euros per week (man) and 410 euros per week (woman) before tax to do it together? In this latter case, with difficulty and in permanent insecurity.
    When properties like this represent almost 6 times the average salary or this represent almost 10 times the average salary – and both of these properties are at the cheap end below the average national house price of 310,000 euros – then you know something is seriously wrong and we are in a bubble.

    Of course if you are drawing 2 wages from the public sector the outlook is quite different. You are however, if in that position, not creating wealth for the country. Those of us in the private sector, and particularly those of us who are self-employed, have no such luxury. So much for the so-called ‘enterprise’ economy of modern ireland under fianna fail, with its comprehension of economic matters nicely summed up in the gombeen phrase “Don’t be Paddy last!”

    These people are eejits.

    Similarly rents of 900-1200 are the norm around ireland, which is high relative to private sector wages. A rent of 800 euros per month is equivalent to a mortgage that is almost 6 times the average salary.

    They can fuck off and stay out of my life. I’m actually interested in creating new things that will ultimately create wealth for this country, these ‘credit surfers’ are just parasites.

    Nice rant. Doesn’t add much to things though.

    You may think that but I disagree. In this ever more bureacratised society where even the basics of life seem to be wrapped in red tape, statistics, complicated government policies, discussions of international trends and indices of relative wealth globally and historically, there seems to be never any expression of more simple and healthily straight-forward approaches to those things which concern our personal life. In my case it’s very simple – I’m willing to pay a fair rent to grease the wheels of international finance and outside of that the gombeens should leave me alone to live my life as I see fit. Simple. I have other things to be doing than running on a tread-mill for the greater financial glorification of others – I’m actually interested in technological and business creativity, not opportunistic exploitation. There is much to be said for telling these gombeens to ‘fuck off’, especially since its so rarely heard. The more it’s heard and acted upon the better.

  • Sarah McKay

    I was thinking of buying a house but decided against it.
    I have been renting a very nice room in a flat for £150/month on the Ormeau Road – the same price as when i moved in in 1999.
    My landlord is fair with us as we’ve been with him so long and the place is well kept.
    I think that £600/month is a decent price to be paying when the same type of house is for sale just down the street for o/o £150k.

    It’s a pity not to be able to buy a house, sure but i think that the house owning frenzy is something of an illness.

    As harry said – “I’m willing to pay a fair rent”
    and i won’t be paying thousands of pounds a year extra just to have the satisfaction of paying for things like fridges (which just broke and was replaced by LL within 24 hours) and saying I own this.

    Debt is the slavery of the free