It may be embarrassing for a Briton in his late 40s to admit this, but I’ve never owned property. Never had a mortgage. Never been in debt, believe it or not.
Since the turn of the millennium, I’ve either been renting in London, where house prices are insane, or travelling the world in search of adventure. The way I saw it, I’d nothing to gain from settling down and becoming a debt slave.
I regret it, of course. Listening to the doom-mongers on the House Price Crash site, I was convinced this madness would end badly. But no, it continues, egged on by politicians of all stripes.
Still, it’s comforting to know that I was born and raised in Hartlepool, which has some of the cheapest housing in Britain. I could, if I wished, buy a property for cash and work remotely there for much of the year. London’s just three hours away by train.
So, there I was, looking at Rightmove’s listings, when I saw this.
A two-bedroom terraced house for auction, guide price £10,000.
A dump, no doubt. Except the photos make it look quite nice.
Something was up. My journalistic Spidey-sense was tingling.
Then I recalled one of the questions for estate agents on Martyn Lewis’s MoneySavingExpert.com: “Has anyone ever been murdered here?”
Now, I tell myself I’m an arch-rationalist. I don’t believe in ghosts.
But if this house were selling for tuppence, I wouldn’t want to live there.