I'm trying to sell my house. It's a nightmare. Yes, I'm aware that it's a nightmare many younger consumers may never experience, given the way things are, but it's a nightmare nonetheless.
My pile of bricks and mortar in Winchester is more than the sum of its parts. Like most homeowners - and, come to think of it, renters too - I consider my house to be a part of me. All my stuff, my memories, the physical summation of my life resides within those four walls. And nobody wants it.
I've bought and sold eighteen houses in my life but this is the first time I've been stuck with one. The current depression in the UK property market is well documented, but it's a bit more personal when you're experiencing it firsthand.
The emotional impact of being unable to sell my house is really weird. It surprised me. It's gotten to the point where it feels really... personal. And I know personal. When working as a politician, I got stick for everything from my policies to my hairline; it was harsh, but I could take it. Politicians are essentially made for people to hate. In my current job, I'm more than capable of taking on a bit of flak - not everyone agrees with the use of fur. I know that.
But it's different with my house. Everybody says they love it but they don't seem to love it enough to actually buy it. Every failed viewing is another kick in the teeth, another punch in the gut. It's like they're rejecting my lifestyle, proverbially spitting on everything from my family photos to my beautiful fur throws. It really hurts.
I feel like I'm on some sort of warped talent show. Total strangers stroll into my bathroom and mark it out of ten; they decide that they 'just aren't feeling' the living room; the cottage garden I love and nurture has been savaged by many a family, because apparently there's not enough room for a trampoline.
I also travel a fair bit for work, making the rejection even sourer. It's like being dumped over text. It also means I have to ensure the house is immaculate before I leave for every trip - you roll your eyes every time they say 'keep the house tidy' on Buying and Selling, but it's a right old task when you're here there and everywhere. I have to strategically plan my washing, plotting a timeline lest viewers turn up to find my drying clothes strewn across the place. In my absence, my favourite estate agent Noni has already had to fold up and hide my Calvins, which goes way beyond the one per cent fee!
It's a draining experience and I'm still no closer to getting rid of my house. However, the rejection's actually better-equipped me for my own viewings. Within five seconds of walking into someone else's house, I know whether I want to buy it or not. Sometimes it's the smell - wet dog, last night's curry - and sometimes it's something equally trivial, something as pernickety as the reasons I put down to me being disheartened by this rigmarole: 'I'm just not feeling it'; 'It's just missing something' and so on.
So now I have a five minute limit - I've literally had estate agents begging me to stay just a little longer so I don't crush the owner's feelings too badly. And I get it now. I really do. Your house is part of you and when people are mean about it, you get upset. It's 'My little brother's an idiot, but only I can call him an idiot' in inanimate form.
But back to my house-selling woes. While it's all so very personal for me, there's got to be something much bigger going on. If house prices are falling in Winchester then the market must be in serious trouble. And talk of interest rate rises won't help. I think the post Brexit fall-out might now be moving to the housing market and that's bad news.
A depressed market means a depressed owner. I won't be rushing to Homebase to buy new paint and lots of new furniture; the removal vans will stay stuck in the yard and solicitors will have to find something else to earn their fees from.
And while it may be bad news for me and others in the same predicament, it's a potential disaster for Theresa May. If voters think their biggest asset is in trouble it will take more than a cough pastille to put things right for her!Suggest a correction