FROM SHACK TO RUIN

by Ross Sharp

I heard on Wednesday morning that there had been a “softening” in the housing market, a “weakening” if you will, a “slump” if you’d prefer, a  “downward trend” perhaps, a “depression”, that the “bubble has not burst, but is looking a little shaky”.

This revolting development has occurred because “home prices eased a further 0.3% in April, 1.2% over the April quarter, and 1.5% over the past year, seasonally adjusted”, whatever the fuck that means.

And I am moved to wonder.

In the small, bog-ordinary, late ‘80’s style (which means no style whatsoever) block of six flats I currently live in (renting), the flat across the hall from mine sold last year for half a million bucks.

If it were to go on the market now, I presume that this “easement” of home prices at 0.3% would mean that it would sell for a whopping $1500.00 less.

From $500,000.00 to $498,500.00.

My heart bleeds for the vendor.

It’s a 2 bedroom flat.

It’s the same size and layout as mine, 2 bathrooms, one of which is an ensuite, the other doubles as a laundry. It’s kitchen is a kitchenette, which means more than one person at a time, there’s a crowd. From the balcony, you get a view of the block of flats across the street and if you turn your head to the right you get a view of the block of flats next door. Turn your head to the left, and you’ll see me on the balcony smoking a cigarette and scowling at you.

On a clear day, if you turned your head to the right, you might get a view of someone in the block next door shaving their armpits in the shower, because you can see straight through their bathroom window.

I wonder if that counts as “water glimpses”?

For real water glimpses however, wander about four blocks down and have a gander at the storm water channel on steroids known as the Brisbane River.

On the way back, stop in at the local pub, a big barn of a place that’s been renovated in such a fashion that all traces of style, history and character have been eradicated from it, a style I refer to as “airport toilette”. You can pay five and a half bucks for a schooner of basic beer, and thirty bucks for a 250g steak and a small fistful of salad while you’re there.

After which, you can take a relaxed stroll through the delightfully eclectic, village-like atmosphere of the shopping centre medium-sized, arse-ugly concrete shopping mall, grab a five buck bottle of cleanskin chardonnay from Liquorland, go home, get drunk and then put a bullet in your head because you’ve just realised that forking out a half million bucks for a bloody flat makes you a fucking moron.

In 1983, when I was 24 and earning about 23 or 24 grand a year as a royalty clerk for a record company, I rented a one bedroom flat in Kirribilli for 68 bucks a week. It was a nice, tidy, older style place, close to everything, no views to speak of, but you only had to go outside the block and look down the street for those, and when the owner told me he had decided to sell up a couple years later, I asked what he thought he might get for the place.

He replied, “Oh, about 65 or 70 thousand, they tell me”.

I was only young and single and had no desire to hook myself into a home loan for several decades, but I could easily grasp the amount as a realistic one and potentially achievable in terms of what I was then earning, certainly a lot of money at the time to fork out, but not an impossible ask.

About 4 years worth of my then annual gross salary, compared to about 12 times now for the 2 bed ratbox across the hall.

I recently spied a “studio apartment” for sale in Kirribilli for 270 thousand.

A studio apartment is real estate speak for “bedsitting room”. Typically, they’re about the size of a linen cupboard and the kitchen comprises a portable two-plate gas-burner and a bucket hung off a tap for a sink. The main selling point for this particular place appeared to be the presence of a balcony which was only slightly larger than a shoebox.

You could grow a WHOLE POT OF PARSLEY on it!

What a bargain.

Listen to this

“The number of new home sales recorded in April grew by just 0.2%, according to the latest figures from the Housing Industry Association.

The HIA’s figures found detached house sales increased by 0.4% with gains in New South Wales and Victoria, while sales fell in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. Multi-unit sales recorded a third consecutive decline by 2%.

HIA chief economist Harley Dale says the result is evidence of an industry suffering under red tape and supply constraints.”

I’d say it’s also evidence that a great many people, certainly those in their 20’s and 30’s, simply couldn’t be bothered anymore attempting to hitch the wagon of their lives to an impossible mortgage that would have them living off tomato sauce and crackers for thirty years and have just given up.

Now, typically at this point in any conversation about the price of real estate, some dreary cunt will pop their head from the murk to gibber at all and sundry about how “they’ve managed to buy a house, they’ve bought three, and that’s because they worked hard, they worked really, really hard, harder than anyone else and certainly much harder than you, and they saved their money, they saved it all, and they ate beans from a can for twelve years and wore the same pair of underpants every day for a decade, whereas these days, these young people, they spend all their fucking money on plasma televisions and iPods and having fucking beers with their friends on a Friday fucking night and then they go and waste more fucking money on a fucking kebab with the fucking lot the indulgent fucking cunts and yes you can fucking buy a fucking house I did it why can’t you fucking do it it’s because you’re a lazy fucking goose that’s why it’s because you’re a lazy fucking goose and it serves you right you fucking farting fucker.”

And typically at this point in the conversation, after belting said dickhead upside the head with a mallet about forty times, you point out to said dickhead that,” Yes, you did manage to buy three, but you bought the fucking things in 1988 or thereabouts, dickhead.”

After which, you belt dickhead upside the head with a mallet again.

Houses are grossly overvalued. About 56% overvalued.

By that measure, the two bedroom ratbox across the hall from me was actually worth about 220K when it sold, and that sounds about right for what it is, which is exactly the same as the one I’m renting, and the one I’m renting ain’t nothin’ special, believe me.

You pay 56% more for a thing than it’s worth, you are a fool.

And those real estate spruikers and advisors and investors who expect you to pay 56% more for a thing than it’s worth are little more than the Limehouse Chappies and Ocean-Liner Al’s of today in modern dress shilling a Big Con, a Sting of wondrous dimensions, and it’s about time to tell these Gondorff grifters and shysters to take their overpriced shoeboxes and over-dramatic gibberish about how everybody needs to buy a house and buy NOW! NOW! NOW! just to get into the market before it’s too late and you wind up a third-class citizen because you only rent to shove it all up their backsides and go take a flying fuck at the moon, because interpreting an “easement” of 0.3% as a “slump” of any sort and touting this as “news worthy” is complete and utter bullshit.

Someone did pay 500 grand for that unit across the hall from me.

The poor, silly bastards.

I wonder if they drink and own a gun?

 

(Cross-posted from Groupthink).

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