Along with the economy, the conversation at the average metropolitan social gathering has suffered a downturn. There is an awful lot to moan about if you are unfortunate enough to be part of a demographic category that has to put petrol into cars or food on to tables. But I do detect an upside.
People have stopped braying on about how much their property is worth and what they are going to do when all the lovely lucre from it is realised.
No one is banging on about doing up rambling farmhouses in France or fincas in Spain. No one gives a floating shelf what Sarah Beeny or Kirstie Allsopp thinks this week.
The housing market has all but come to a halt: prices are falling, and fewer people can get their hands on a mortgage deal; approvals for home purchases have taken a dramatic nosedive, falling by two thirds in a year.
Ahh. I know it isn’t nearly as bad as it was over there, but even in humble Seattle, I can’t believe how many people — complete strangers! — would ask me how much we spent on our little garret. I mean, I would never ask, so I didn’t want to answer, but since they evidently would ask, then wasn’t I expected to answer? So then I’d hem and haw, because to not answer might translate as “Wow, that much?!” in their small brains, but I just couldn’t bring myself to answer outright.
While dreams of making pots of money from our houses – which would enable us to run off into the sunset in pursuit of the remote-worker/yoga-teacher, perfect downsized dream – are being shattered by falling property prices, this economic standstill could prompt a new appreciation for the houses we are stuck with.
Few of us put our hearts into our homes the way our parents’ generation did, precisely because we were too busy speculating about the next venture, the next move, never standing still.
It was an absurd attitude to have towards our homes: regarding them as a passport to somewhere else.
I love it. The other thing you realize when you buy a home these days, even in humble Seattle, is how little it is expected to actually be your home. It’s all about slabgranitcountertops because the only thing you’re buying it for is to sell it again. What a depressing way to live your life.