I haven’t been following the Brisbane property market since we left three months ago but no doubt it has begun to show signs of recovery by now. Expect a boom within weeks. That’s how things go when I sell up in one place and move to another.
You know that scene in Around the World in 80 Days when the hot air balloon is headed towards the Alps so the manservant unties one of those sandbags and they soar above the peaks? Well, that’s me. The balloon is the property market, I’m the ballast. Cut me loose and prices go through the roof. No wonder those real estate agents and investors were lining our old street waving and popping champagne corks as we headed to the airport.
Still, I shouldn’t complain. Thanks to 23 years on the inflation superhighway I arrived in London with money in my account for the first time since the day I joined the Commonwealth Bank school savings scheme in 1962. (The next day I withdrew my entire principle of two shillings and invested the lot in ice-block futures, a decision I have since come to regret.)
Not that we were going to rush into anything on the real estate front here in London. “We’ll rent,” we said. “Like when we were newlyweds. It’ll be romantic.”
Sadly, the only ones in our flat that find renting the least bit romantic are the mice who have turned the cupboard under our kitchen sink into their own little Playboy mansion.
So, last week when I saw a tiny terrace for sale near my son’s school, I was tempted. Sure, it was the width of a phone box, on a busy road and there was no yard, parking or second loo, but at £ 220,000 it seemed reasonable value. Then I realised. It wasn’t £ 220,000; it was £ 2.2 million – about $4 million. And that’s cheap. I was told this week that there is a genuine shortage in London of properties priced at more than £7 million. Buyers can’t get their hands on them quick enough and it’s forcing the prices sky-high. “Russian and Arab investors,” I was told.
With Mr and Mrs Ballast looking to enter the market, I almost feel sorry for them.