From The Times’ business pages comes news that one of the country’s biggest floggers of expensive housing, Savills, is using figures for rising luxury car sales to support a view that house values in “the capital’s top neighbourhoods” are getting rapidly stronger.
Seems recent house purchasers are so confident that prices will keep climbing they’re happy to spend the rest of their wad on the Porsche or Range Rover they’ve always wanted, calculating (in a comforting but essentially erroneous way) that future rises will cover their outlay.
Estate agents believe publicising this rosy view of the world will encourage others to sell, thus reducing the market’s one remaining problem, a shortage of houses for sale. Naturally, this will tuck a few more quid in the estate agent’s back pocket.
Sad fool that I am, I dislike this notion of an interesting car as a piece of punctuation at the end of a property deal; something that casually confers extra distinction on a family with a new house. Cars — even low-value models sometimes dismissed in the wider world as 'sheds' — should enter the equation much earlier.
In my book, and those of my car-loving friends, garage position and size takes top priority when you’re looking at a house, followed by the availability of generous off-street parking.
Others in the household may be concerned with bedroom count, kitchen size and whether or not you can see the roses from the conservatory, but our priority is the presence of facilities to park, manoeuvre, protect and tinker with the car(s) we own. It is a major driver of one’s enjoyment of life, just as having to leave a much-loved car in the street encourages depression and feelings of inadequacy.
Against any house, cars win by a massive margin on design sophistication and quality of execution. I often wonder how fantastic my house would be if only it had been developed, designed, equipped, built and maintained with all the love and skill of a Ford Focus. No roof leaks, no funny wiring, superb fittings and fixtures — and a team of experts on hand once a year to adjust any malady for a few hundred quid.
Even the cheapest cars win this contest. The VW Up may occupy a lowly position in the hierarchy of cars, but I’d be delighted to live in the VW Up of apartments — for the modernity, efficiency, quality, and intelligent use of space it would have. I can practically feel the quality of the bathroom taps.
Besides which, I’d be able to afford it. And have a few quid left over for several more 'sheds' of my own.