Wednesday, September 3, 2008
I’m currently trying to sell my house. After we got married last year, Debbie and I made plans to move somewhere bigger, and so we redecorated her one-bedroom flat in Gorgie and got it on the market last spring. After a flurry of interest, culminating in three offers it sold in three weeks, and the deal concluded on the last weekend in May. In the interim period, we redecorated, de-cluttered and cleaned our house. We painted, grouted, and polished, then hoovered, sealed, pollyfiller-ed, then scrubbed, scraped and finished. Our flat was ready for the market. It was advertised in the Edinburgh Solicitors’ Property Guide on the first day of June. On the first weekend on the market, one person came to see it. She lived in the flats next door. The next three weeks saw one person a week come to view our flat. In fact, until last Wednesday, when we were visited by a friendly, well meaning but ultimately disinterested viewer who hadn’t even decided to buy any property and was just ‘seeing what was available’ we had had no one express any interest in over two months. Three months down the line we’ve had four viewers round to see our clean, tidy, competitively priced flat (near to Sainsbury’s, Meadowbank Stadium and on good public transport links to all parts of Edinburgh. White Meter Heating). We’re in a decent financial position. We’re not overcommitted and we have an above average annual income. There are people in the current financial crisis that are in a far worse position than my wife and I. But if Gordon Brown and Alasdair Darling honestly believe that a time limited stamp duty holiday will have any great impact on our quest to find a buyer for our house (which would be within the price limits of the Stamp Duty freeze) they will be mistaken. Only increased confidence in the economy at large can help, and with OECD predicting that the UK, and the UK alone amongst the G7 countries, will face negative growth and a recession, combined with the fact that property prices in Edinburgh have dropped for the first time in almost four decades this doesn’t look likely soon. Short-term, spin inspired, measures will not inspire increased confidence in the economy and turn the country’s fortunes around. It will not sell my house in the near future, and especially not to a first-time buyer. I’m told that this measure could cost £600m, but it will not work. That’s bad news for my wife and I, bad news for the first time buyers who can’t get on the property market, and bad news for the economy in general. But it’s exceptionally bad news for the Government. We reduced the asking price on our flat yesterday by 7%.