It’s been an eventful week for me. Last Sunday I was still officially a lucky escaper of the credit crunch. The lucky co-owner of an unwanted, brand spanking new flat (notice how I have reverted to “flat” – as opposed to apartment – as the credit crunch has set in), we were all set to sell the thing to some bloke. We weren’t likely to make any money (oh how naive I was back in April), but we weren’t likely to lose anything (well, very much) either and wanted to sell up as quickly as possible so we could afford a mortgage on a property more fitting with our needs. I was itching for the day I could use this title for a blog post: “and with one leap he was free.”
Except the bloke we were at the closing stages of selling to clearly got a better offer because he turned around to our estate agent on Monday and demanded we knock ten grand off the asking price. Since that would have rendered the whole exercise pointless (we only bought the thing because we had a fifteen grand deposit on it), we pulled out and went back to Plan B – specifically rent the thing out and sell up when the market (hopefully) recovers in a couple of years. One eager beaver letting agent later and our new tenant is to move in next Monday – hence the scrabbling around this weekend sorting out furniture, white goods and curtains so the place is at least liveable in.
I’ve become the thing (other than middle-class wanker obsessed with the value of his property portfolio) I least wanted to be in life – an absentee landlord (it’s deeply ironic that, having spent years in LDYS campaigning for a tenancy protection scheme, I end up discovering we now have one in law by having to use it as a landlord myself). Our new tenant earns more than me for fuck’s sake. What’s worse, I’m not even likely to be making any money out of it (although Uncle Vince may help there). Aside from the significant money we’ve just spent equipping the place, we will essentially be a grand down a year. In essence, we are gambling on the value going up faster than that by the time we sell and we are more or less stuck where we are currently living until that happens. Suddenly the credit crunch feels very real. It looks like its going to end up being SO bad we might actually meet our Kyoto targets. Sheesh.
But still, joking aside, as members of the middle class we can cope. We have parents and support networks. Galling though it all is, it hardly ranks higher than inconvenient. We aren’t going to end up starving. For a lot more people it is going to be much more brutal. That debate last month about tax cuts now seems appallingly anachronistic.