Agenda: Pet Shop Boys; Adam Driver; The Shard; festival fashion; rising house prices


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The Independent Culture

Middle-class problems: House prices

By Simmy Richman

Unless you are one of those unfortunate souls we pityingly call "first-time buyers", chances are you are sitting on a gold mine. (Or perhaps you're perfectly happy renting, in which case you are sitting on someone else's gold mine.) Anyway, the point is that despite austerity, double-dips and general hardship, house prices in most parts of the UK have continued to boom while all around has been going bust.

And don't we all love to remind ourselves about it. "We bought it for X and now it's worth Y," we console ourselves around dinner-party tables. "See how much that house down the street went for?" we ask our neighbours on the way to pick up the morning paper.

Yet the truth is that unless we are thinking of downsizing or moving to the Outer Hebrides, the entire topic is academic – for the simple reason that if our house has increased by so many per cent since we moved in, then the same will be true of any property we desire to buy. In short, IT DOESN'T MATTER.

But none of that stops us, because it has become a sort of middle-class sport to keep one eye on Zoopla while we lust over what the current valuation of our property might buy us in parts of the country/world we have no intention of ever moving to.

Could it be that with little money in our pockets, there is comfort to be taken in believing that we have, at least, made one sound investment over the course of our lives? Or is that we are united by a collective delusion that it is actually us (rather than our mortgage lenders) who are sitting on that gold mine?