Friday 2 December 2016

Expensive houses in an economy like ours are good indicator of likely future poverty

Published 04/06/2014 | 02:30

IT IS hard to believe that we are at it again, but we are and it's kind of surreal. I was walking past a small end-of-estate, three-bedroomed semi the other day. It is for sale, and it is going for auction – a sure sign that the mania is upon us again. The "for auction" sign is enough to torpedo the spirits of even the most optimistic first-time buyer.

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Once you see "for auction" you know the estate agent plans a bidding war, where the winner takes all. The winner is likely to be a cash buyer, who will elbow out the first-time buyer and hope that the same first-time buyer will become his tenant.

This particular auction sign bragged that the "site" had potential for another house. The "site" in this case is the smallish back garden in a run-of-the-mill 1960s estate in Dublin – the type I was brought up in at a time when a decent back garden meant room for a 20-a-side soccer match. (The days when we had jumpers as nets, defining the size of the plot, not estate agents' sales patter.) So yes, maybe there is just about room for a house – but we are talking a Wendy House or a Leprechaun house, a place for the little people to live.

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