What do you do with a utility that's essential to our safety and security - the very lowest tier in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs? Why, you monetize it!
Today I'm on a rant about the housing market and why pandemic-spawned landlords and flippers are the scourge of society. Profiting from others' misfortune, puffing up their savings already inflated by furlough payments.
A long, long time ago (I can still remember how that music used to make me smile ALL TOGETHER NOW and I knew if I had my chance, I could make those people dance and maybe they’d be happy for a while…) I left my beloved Lytham to return home to Southport, a not quite as nice town on the north west coast.
There were some reasons but context isn’t important here. Happy to chat - all you need to do is @davethackeray me on Twitter and we can be instant BTFFs.
I came home during the heat of our beloved pandemic and instantly starting hunting for a more permanent place to lay my head.
I might as well have been looking for a blender of woody greens with a blade made of blancmange.
The pandemic has given everyone a fever.
The fire is in our housing market. And the heat is on.
My first offer was on a charming house with two bedrooms and a nasty front drive (don’t be thinking Mansfield Park here - it was a scrap of land where with some difficulty a toy car could be parked) covered in those horrible stones that puncture your toy car tyres.
The chain was dicey, it later transpired. And I had thrown a 1. It collapsed, with my dream of a new abode as the seller chose to fall back in love with their ratty welcome mat.
That house was affordable, back in November. It’s probably doubled in value by now. Value of property being defined as ‘get someone recovering from a big shock to push buttons on a calculator until the fright wears off.’
Why has this occurred? How did we get so very bad?
It started with a bat. And some very flimsy information masquerading as fact but you know better by now than to believe anything you read here.
In December 2019 someone ate one of the caped crusader’s distant relatives. Or someone sneaked some microscopic parasites out of a lab in Wuhan (told you this was sketchy).
Panic and pandemic ensued. Everything went to shit. And you thought Trump getting hired was an abomination. This is next level stuff. Like finding out there isn’t gonna be a second Deadpool sequel. Which reminds me - whatever happened to Top Gun 2?
Because everyone was temporarily fired, governments decided - in an unprecedented fit of sense - to start throwing money around.
People who didn’t do much in the way of work beforehand were suddenly getting handouts for doing even less.
Many of those people already had enough money but these handouts were indiscriminate. Just because you had a job didn’t mean you were on your arse.
As the bottom fell out of everything and everyone, interest rates that were already awful got awfuler.
No one could spend anything but because there was nothing to do, they focused on greed. You’d be amazed how many day traders came out of the woodwork. I blame it on Leo, because with unlimited time comes the chance to rewatch Wolf of Wall Street which was ace.
When you’re greedy and money isn’t an issue, what do you do? You capitalise on other people’s misfortune, that’s what. Explore the meaning of zero sum.
Flipping or renting.
You find houses and buy them, then sell them again to other investors - or people who, say, need a place to live - at inflated rates. Or you rent them, becoming an even more infernal waste of space because now you’re regularly profiting from people who want to not be murdered while sleeping on the streets, without remembering what humanity looks like and neglecting your new tenants’ needs by refusing to maintain your new portfolio and even hiking rent later on to demonstrate how far your soul has fallen through the circles of hell.
Every scrap of land and tiny terrace is being snapped up above asking for precisely this game.
People looking for ways out the dire dilemma of zero interest savings don't necessarily make great professional landlords. And by great I mean what little about the professional landlord is great and not the insidious remainder. If you're a landlord spawned by the pandemic you'll invariably have at least partly funded this venture with a buy to let mortgage and this scary new world will probably preclude you from thinking about such medium term inconveniences as property maintenance tenant welfare
And chances are you borrowed to the hilt if you're flipping crazy. Meaning you're now trying to do more with less because you want that quick return before house prices inevitably spike and tumble a bit.
Money ruins lives.
We'd have enough housing for everyone if providing everyone with a safe place to sleep wasn't an industry.
Maybe China's latest construction poster child has something beyond a riveting YouTube video. I shared on my newsletter yesterday how the BROAD Group (I’M NOT SHOUTING IT’S THE BRAND NAME) erected an efficient and sustainable 10-storey apartment complex in a day.
Driving down not only shoring pins but the cost of housing. It's essentially in the clinical trial phase but a robust enough inkling that maybe better, smarter times are ahead.