We have just returned from a week of house-hunting, or perhaps I should say 'village-hunting' as we are not ready to refine our search to specific properties yet. It seems sensible to downsize, release some equity and to move closer to the children, now that we have both retired but today's headline: 'Home sales gridlocked' suggests our timing might be out and we could be 'trapped' here for a while. It isn't a bad trap really: I love my house and garden and, if we could only get rid of the summer tourists, it is a potentially idyllic location. But the reasons for moving stated above are valid and I was beginning to get excited at the prospect of a new start.
This latest problem with the English housing market has almost converted me to conspiracy theory. The last time we moved was in the late 1980s. For several years house prices had spiralled crazily and the house we bought for £30k was valued at £140k just eight years on. We bought our current house just before the great slump of 1988/9 and within three months of moving it had lost a third of its value. Although we were okay, many people ended up in very difficult circumstances and 'negative equity' and 'repossession' were the subject of nightmares for a long time. In recent years, house prices have soared again, at a rate of £40k a year and our house is currently worth between 4 and 5 times what we paid for it. Or is it? What is anything worth if you can't sell it?
I think the peril of home ownership is cause for tying another red herring to Margaret Thatcher's statue, since it was she who made home ownership a criterion for social success in Britain and paved the way for silly prices and the tyrrany of mortgage lenders.
So, we probably won't be moving in the near future but we did have a lovely time looking around Somerset and Gloucestershire.
What a delightful cottage we stayed in and what lovely neighbours!