mike colman

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - UPFRONT -

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.

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