If Kellie Harrington’s struggling to get a mortgage in the crazy Irish property market, what hope is there for the rest of us?
You have to wonder at a society in which one of our biggest Olympic champions finds it “almost impossible” to secure a mortgage.
This week, Kellie Harrington revealed that she was attempting to buy a house near her family home in Portland Row, in the north inner-city centre. The 32-year-old boxer hopes to buy with her fiancée, Mandy. (In November, a three-bed on this very street was for sale with an asking price of €250,000, now gone sale agreed). So far, so unremarkable. And yet.
“I am trying to get a mortgage at the moment but it’s proving nearly impossible,” Harrington told this newspaper earlier in the week. “It’s nearly made impossible for young people to get a foot on that property ladder. I think I’m nearly sorted but it’s been hard.”
Don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard a major sports star, a household name, deal with this struggle before. I don’t know the specifics of Harrington’s finances, nor do I need to.
But this is the same Kellie Harrington who, in addition to working in St Vincent’s Hospital, has fielded several sponsorship offers since winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics.
The same Kellie Harrington that brand experts deemed a ‘marketing dream’, and could very feasibly snag any number of ‘six-figure’ sponsorship deals.
Harrington has been the very embodiment of determination, focus and commitment, even before her win at Tokyo. She was a reminder that if you work hard enough and stay focused, your dreams will come true. Well, once they don’t include owning your own home.
There’s a reason that mortgage lending rules are as unyielding as they are. There was the ‘supermarket sweep’ buzz of the Celtic Tiger era, when it was possible to secure a 110pc mortgage and some lenders were offering up to 10 times a person’s salary.
In 2008, when the credit crunch was in full swing, a quarter of first-time buyers were given 100pc mortgages by banks or building societies. It was never going to end well, for anyone.
Nowadays, buyers need to amass a deposit that’s 10pc of the house price (20pc if you’re not a first-time buyer). Lenders will also typically offer you 3.5 your salary (or, if you’re self-employed, net profit after expenses). You might be lucky enough to secure a mortgage that’s 4.5 times your salary, if you can secure an exemption. If you earn a six-figure salary, you might still only qualify for a mortgage of €350,000 based on these mortgage rules, or a purchase price of about €388,888 once you have your 10pc deposit. So let’s go shopping with this, on the face of it, fairly significant, amount.
According to the Crazy House Price Twitter account (@crazyhouseprice, if you feel like exerting your blood pressure levels), you’re automatically out of the running for a 40-square-metre, one-bed house in Glasthule (€425,000) or a 48-square-metre two-bed terraced house in Clontarf (€475,000). You’d just about be able to afford a two-bed, 39-square-metre house in Stoneybatter (€350,000), once the bidding doesn’t spiral out of control.
Fine, you’re paying for the postcode, but at that price you’d best be prepared to store your clothes in another postcode. Where to begin with the mess that is the Irish housing crisis, apart from throwing your hands to the sky and screaming with abandon?
A number of factors need to be implemented by a government who seem cowed by the task at hand, at best; apathetic, at worst.
But there has to be some sort of middle ground between relaxing these lending rules to allow people to buy, and avoiding yesteryear’s catastrophe. It’s an unspeakably awful situation so that many hard-working people have been frozen out of the market.
But when a person who’s the living embodiment of success and accomplishment for so many is in the same boat, it really should give us pause for thought.
Why should Taylor Swift have her work diminished?
Grumpy older men taking a gratuitous pop at younger women for simply existing are nothing new, but Damon Albarn’s comments about Taylor Swift were still very much newsworthy.
In an interview with the LA Times, the Blur frontman noted incorrectly that Swift “doesn’t write her own songs”.
Told by the interviewer that Swift co-writes her music, Albarn doubled down: “That doesn’t count. I know what co-writing is. Co-writing is very different to writing. I’m not hating on anybody, I’m just saying there’s a big difference between a songwriter and a songwriter who co-writes.”
Swift responded on Twitter: “I was such a big fan of yours until I saw this. I write all of my own songs. Your hot take is completely false and so damaging.”
His non-apology (“My remarks were reduced to clickbait”) also did him few favours.
Now, it could be that Taylor Swift simply isn’t his bag, which is fine. At the same time, women have had their work diminished like this since time immemorial.
I’m instantly reminded of the indie-loving beta blokes I met in my youth who were so viciously elitist that the idea of appreciating pop music was considered some kind of character flaw.
And Albarn’s remarks reek of that reflexive snobbery. That he doesn’t realise or appreciate the work that goes into creating a chart-topping pop song makes him the amateur, not her.
You don’t become a megastar like Adele without being a perfectionist
People seem to be very surprised that Adele – still very much from Tottenham, still very much loving Chicken McNuggets – has cancelled her live show at the last minute. The singer cancelled her Las Vegas residency last week after seemingly running out of time to put the show together. Reports of ‘diva requests’ and spats with personnel soon followed, as did accusations of unreliability.
But here’s the thing. You don’t get to become a global megastar without a degree of control and perfectionism. Oddly, when men have such high levels of expectations of themselves and others, they’re just called professionals. Go figure.