Property: Your home will soon be bugged

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The Independent Online
THE MILLENNIUM bug is not, contrary to recent US speculation, a disease contracted by Bill Clinton that can only be cured after he has notched up 2000. It is actually a disease contracted by the computer industry to give software programmers and developers something to talk about at dinner parties.

According to the in-house geek at The Fount of All Knowledge, the world will come to an end at midnight on 31 December, 1999. The reason cited is that many computers work on only the last two digits of the year. This will cause chaos, according to Andy the anorak. Computers will think that it is the year 1900, become terribly confused and generally break down.

"I won't be flying that night, will you?" Andy challenged a group of us in the Snug Bar.

"Actually, Andy, we all have tickets for the Fount of All Knowledge millennium knees-up that night. Live music, fork buffet and all the mulled wine you can manage. Tickets are limited you know," I explained.

But his point was not ignored. If computers are going to struggle with anything ending in 00 then property prices will suffer.

Most property prices are rounded up or down to the nearest thousand which is plenty of noughts. I assume the millennium bug will mean that from 1 January 2000, all property prices will be reduced to pounds 1,900.

And mark my words, the slump is on its way. Forgive me for slipping into Clinton-speak but prices are going down.

I know this because after a year of trying to look at properties to buy, last week I actually saw some. It was a revelation. As I walked through the door of the first house the estate agent thrust into my hands the particulars.

"What price does it say?" he asked.

Even before I had time to reply, he interjected: "It's been reduced."

What had happened, I wondered, to the sharp intake of breath and mocking laugh that was the estate agent's stock in trade while prices were soaring?

In essence, I had found a house which nobody had wanted to buy.

"This has been for sale since the summer hasn't it?" I asked.

"What makes you say that?" enquired the agent.

"The picture on the front of the particulars shows a tree with a verdant and full foliage. It is now January and that same tree has not a leaf on it. Either you brought somebody in to stick the leaves back on or you took the picture in the summer. And this is a property bought as an investment isn't it?" I pressed.

"What do you mean?"

"The only people who buy the same colour carpet for every inch of the house are developers," I explained.

"So make me an offer," he pleaded.

"I'll take some new pictures for you."

The slump is on its way.