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  • Writer's pictureAlastair Blair

Rev Spooner and the Housing Market

On one of our allotted periods in the great outdoors, while taking Benjy for his morning constitutional actually, we walk past a house that is for sale. It's a tiny house, teensy even, and it looks ideal for one person or perhaps two who get on very well (or are just married and therefore only need three rooms). Its Purple Bricks board waves hopefully in the wind, but no-one is coming to view it any day soon.

Unfortunately, its owners are not alone. My relative and a business friend have also just suffered from house sales falling through, for the same reason. Our next door neighbours have sold their house, but we don't know if the buyers, from England, will have been able to sell theirs, or whether the convoluted English chain of purchasers will have brought their sale to a juddering halt.

I mention this because, in amongst the enormous amount of profiteering that's going on at the moment (of which more in subsequent blogs), I did wonder if the aforementioned Purple Bricks are going to change their business model. Not that I'm suggesting that PB is profiteering (if m'learned friends are reading this then I must make it clear that is not what is being said), but at least with a conventional solicitor/estate agent you only pay a percentage of the house price when it is sold. In contrast, PB's model is to charge you a flat fee irrespective of whether the hoose is sold or not.

Ah, I hear you cry, echoing those daft adverts; the alternative is 'commisery' - or whatever they call it. A lawyer friend of my acquaintance said it has been many years since he charged anything like the amount of money that Purple Bricks imply. Which is, I suspect, why he referred to PB using the spoonerism that my more erudite readers probably worked out several paragraphs ago.

The housing market will come back. In some respects, given that it's been vastly overcooked for years, an adjustment downwards might be no bad thing, especially if it helps get more young people into their own homes, as opposed to renting. Many will suffer, some others will gain. It's a bit like this coronavirus crisis really, of which more tomorrow....

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