THE BLOG

The (Not So) Secret Diary of a London First Time Buyer; Aged 34 1⁄4 - Part III

01/04/2014 16:58 BST | Updated 01/06/2014 10:59 BST

Wednesday, 5 Feb: 12:51pm - Slide bread in to (rented) toaster, open (rented) fridge, remove bland cheddar (stolen from housemate). Eat. Mother calls mid-snack inquiring about sealed bid results. I relay grim news. "Oh my Gawd, Dave! I can't believe it went for seventy-thousand more than advertised!" Believe it mum. "People are crazy bidding tens of thousands above asking price," she adds, seemingly forgetting momentarily that that's exactly what I had just done. "But don't worry, darling. It took me a year to sell my old house. And another year to find a new one. Ooh, must go, got tennis..." Rings off. I have no time to tell her that in 12 months' time - the way the market is going - I'll be lucky to afford a one-bed flat anywhere south of Hadrian's Wall. Exchange puts me off my food; toss Hovis crusts in (rented/broken) bin.

Wednesday, 5 Feb: 1:01pm - Switch on news headlines. Abnormally gloomy bulletin. Decide to take day off from house hunting and snap shut laptop. This means no Zoopla porn; mindless clicking on glassy, £2m St John's Wood penthouses I'll never be able to afford - or worse - sumptuous Islington new builds I could have stretched to had the ex and I stayed together thereby doubling purchase cash. (My God we would have argued! Though find myself wondering if floor-to-ceiling windows, a study and separate bathrooms could have been the lavishly priced glue that kept us together...BAH!)

Wednesday, 5 Feb: 1:18pm - Turn on iPlayer - AKA - the digital death knell to my hopes of a productive day. Brew coffee and load up interesting looking beeb documentary called Inside Out London: Housing and property special. The presenter Mark (so lacking in anguished emotion and neuroses he must be a home owner) talks us through the hows and whys and whos and whens of the capital's property scene. I slump into the couch; it quickly becomes clear I'm entirely fucked...

Wednesday, 5 Feb: 1:34pm - "In the past year the number of luxury high rise homes under construction has doubled. And half of these go to foreigners," chirrups Mark, matter-of-factly. "It's not just the foreign cash. The new government's Help To Buy scheme, years of housing shortage and a growing population all fuel what's become a London obsession." He interviews grisly Londoners with dreams of home owning. I can relate to their stories. Most seem to accept opting for smaller and smaller flats further and further out is their only hope of success. "It's a playground for the rich and famous and no one else is invited!" opines one lady. It's tough to disagree. But there's more!

Wednesday, 5 Feb: 1:40pm - Cameras pan to a London property expo in Hong Kong. City high rises are being snapped up for cash (natch) before they have even been offered here. Some units are even sold in blocks yet to built. A gloomy vista descends. It soon starts to feel like I'm reading The Shining. Whilst listening to the Psycho soundtrack. On Halloween. Alone. The only bright spot is one Chinese investor describing his new property in Croydon as a toy. This does make me giggle; he's clearly yet to visit Croydon.

Wednesday, 5 Feb: 1:47pm - Programme ends. Look down at brimming cup; I have not touched my coffee. Pour tepid blackness down kitchen plughole. I wince and groan out loud. Then sulk.

Wednesday, 5 Feb: 8:34pm - Pizza night out with my much younger girlfriend (MYG). I rush her through her story about her day - some stop-start anecdote dissecting the love life of one of her colleagues - and move conversation on to far more pressing matters; the state of the London housing market. I calmly explain how billions (BILLIONS!) of pounds of foreign capital are being invested in homesteads across our capital city pushing prices sky high. This leads to an awkward exchange:

DL - "...but do you not see? Investors from countries with insecure economies are buying up shedloads of London flats as some kind of frickin' safe haven! On top of that the programme says some Chinese dudes are bagging 10 gaffs at a time! In cash! How am I supposed to compete with that?"

MYG - (Looks down at wine list, mutters under breath just audible enough to hear) "Great. Dinner with Nigel Farage..."

DL - "I heard that! That's a ridiculous thing to say. It's not just overseas cash, it's help-to-buy too. Plus bugger-all interest rates. It's starting to feel I can't win. I've saved up for years to get a deposit for a place. YEARS!

MYG - (reaches for bleeping iPhone). "Hmm..."

DL - "Oh, forget it, you wouldn't understand..."

MYG - "Don't fucking patronise me, douchebag! You have a hundred-grand deposit to piss away! I have near enough that in student loan debts! You think you've got it bad, grandpa? Try being in your mid-20s. I'll be renting forever! WAITER! We're ready to order..."

DL - "Well...like...yeah...whatever, man..."

MYG - "DON'T call me 'man'..."

Wednesday, 5 Feb: 10:50pm - General mood of bickering continues via the backstreets of Finsbury Park, N4 all the way to MYG's house (share). I refuse to back down and urge her to be more supportive of my property needs. And then more arguing.

Wednesday, 5 Feb: 10:55pm - House buying-invoked tension slightly broken by mint tea and discovery/devouring of surprise bag of Maltesers in coat pocket with promise not to broach subject again that evening.

Wednesday, 5 Feb: 11:19pm - A long and emotional day comes to an end. MYG catches my eye in the mirror whilst removing smudged mascara. She frowns and spits the immortal line: "You should know something, David. When you talk about flat hunting, it really makes me not want to sleep with you." I look away and grimace.

Wednesday, 5 Feb: 11:35 - Drift towards fitful sleep after amorous advances are botched and entirely thwarted. Proof then, as if proof were needed: flat hunting is crap for your sex life.

Thursday, 6th Feb - 07:10am - Airport bound for a week's skiing. Mother texts en route and reminds me to wear a helmet. "Look what happened to that poor Schumacher bloke," she says. "And you need to be in fine fettle for viewing flats when you get back!" I don't have the heart to tell her the F1 great was wearing a helmet when he crashed. Mother's safety anxiety and flat gloom collide; I read recently average flat prices in London are going up by £500 per day. So this trip looks like it will cost me an extra three-and-a-half grand in the long run. Happy holidays...