IS YOUR HOUSE SAFE FROM NUCLEAR ATTACK?
That’s the header which has just popped into my inbox. I get a lot of really weird emails, and I daresay you do too….but I was intrigued by this one. Looking around my mid 19th century cottage, solidly built but by Victorian builders who were chiefly focused on protecting its early occupants from driving rain and sub- zero temperatures (it gets pretty parky out here in the South Downs), I concluded that, no, my cottage is not ‘safe’ from nuclear attack.
On closer inspection, it transpires that the email emanates from – go figure – a US insurance company.
Surely this is a new low in the annals of turning a fast buck on a home insurance premium?
You know what, bud, you think you’ve got your ass covered…but when those Ruskies start lobbing the nukes over, who do you think is going up in smoke first of all?
That’s right, my friend, and there wont be much left of you guys to clear up. So better safe than sorry, eh?
Now of course, even this most perverse take on the hard sell defies any actual logic. But given that our American comrades across the ocean appear to have abandoned any semblance of logic either in the way they elect their politicians or conduct corporate business, why, I am wondering, does it niggle me so much.
Possibly because, having recently moved house, I have been literally bombarded (not quite nuked) by insurers competing for my business.
In a free-range economy such as ours that’s to be expected, but it seems that in the post Covid economic recovery period, levels of avarice and chasing down the last buck have imploded. Sales peeps have always been driven by targets, the promise of commission every time they nail a sale, sign up yet another punter into a lengthy contract which turns out to be as watertight as the pair of tennis trainers I have finally binned.
But I think what is, if I drill down, really bothering me in today’s hard sell universe is the complete absence of any compassion.
While insurance for our homes and our vehicles are a given, the endless exhortations to be covered for this, that and the other – nuclear war!! – is enervating at the least, infuriating at worse.
At the end of April this year, UK adults owed £1,786 BILLION to banks, credit card firms, mortgage lenders and other assorted debt providers.
Including the mortgage (for those who are ‘lucky’ enough to have them – so many young adults in particular are being crippled by rapidly rising monthly rents), the typical adult in the UK owes just shy of £34,000. Far more for graduates struggling to repay their student loans.
According to the Office for Budgetary Responsibility – that’s the department so recently ignored by the Truss/Kwarteng Clown 🤡 School – household debt is set to climb dramatically this year and into 2023. A perfect storm of historically high inflation, the ongoing crisis in Eastern Europe and a wage freeze for many workers means that hard working households are likely to face ever more drains on their limited resources.
Without doubt these are nervous times for our finances. Not helped by an alarmist media constantly banging the drum regarding gas and electricity price rises. September/ October 2022 is likely to see consumer payments for domestic power rise to around £3,500, if you believe the Daily Telegraph home news reporting team
I don’t. This is fake news. The Government has made it clear that consumer prices will be capped, so while the energy repayments will be uncomfortably high for many, the ruinous sums being banded about are a fiction, designed to terrify readers for reasons best known to the media bosses who thrive on this kind of misinformation.
Mortgage repayments are also creeping up. We are nowhere near the scenario faced by so many homeowners, including myself, in the late 1980s, when the base rate rose to 15%. Thousands of property owners capitulated, with many pushing the keys back through the building society door.
Now that really was a ruinous scenario. But I can’t see the rates spiralling to anything like that level, despite the current crisis. I can however envisage the base rate climbing to roughly half of that, but these rises will be staggered, as the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee will not want to bankrupt the country.
Speaking to a couple of Brighton estate agents,
the view from the front line is that property prices will start to go off the boil towards the end of 2022; by the end of the third quarter of next year we could be witnessing a distinct cooling of home values. Good news for those struggling to get on the ladder, not so good if you’ve bought this year – which is now looking distinctly like the top of the market.
As they say, what goes up must (eventually) come down. Maybe we should take a leaf out of our European neighbours’ book. Our chums in France, for example, are giving a collective Gallic shrug, as most (around two thirds of the population) rent their homes.
Pas de soucie, they say, no worries. It can be someone else’s problem. Over here however far too much of our collective wealth is tied up in property, despite it being quietly vulnerable. Longer term, say the experts, property will always come good.
But the concern right now is that the once seemingly invincible property market is looking decidedly shaky…and the wider stock markets have been pounded since Russia went into Ukraine at the beginning of the year. Nowhere looks to be a particularly attractive home for our money.
Wrap up well. It may be a long, harsh winter.