20 Nov 2012 18:55 - 20 Nov 2012 18:56#733960by treibeis
For me it's the lawn-cutting/snow-shovelling/leaf-raking.
Get a tenant in.
My landlady lives two floors below me, on the ground floor. From March to December, I never see her. However, as soon as the serious snow comes, she's hovering around the main door, shovel in hand and downtrodden expression on face, as soon as I put the key in the lock.
And then she sighs and says something like, "Oh well, Herr treibeis, at least it means I don't have to pay all that money to go to a fitness studio". And then, staring wistfully at the ever-increasing drifts outside, she groans, grasps the small of her back, winces, whimpers, affects a limp and and goes as if to set to work.
It would take a harder man than me to not wrestle the shovel from her grasp and spend an hour doing her job for her.
And what do I get I return? A bottle of low-alcohol Jever that's a year and a half past its sell-by date.
You really should write a North German version of Tim Parks' An Italian Education.
You could crib at least half of it from your posts on here.
The fact that tenants benefit from significantly more protections in most Continental European countries is a key reason why renting remains an attractive option (and why "rent to let"-related abuses are less common).
I'm pretty much in lock-step with WOM. Even if you're not a handyperson (I'm sure not) buy when in your 30s–40s, if you're able. For most people here a house is the best way of providing income in your old-age. We moved into our new place last weekend, and practically everyone we've run into has greeted us with "So, buying down eh? Actually we're not, but that's the expectation. If you're 60+, you cash out, buy somewhere smaller and add the equity to whatever other income you have.
It's true that it ought to make more sense to rent when you're old, because of maintenance costs/physical decrepitude. The assets from selling, here at least, ought to provide a healthy income. But though tenants rights are better than they used to be, it's not hard for an owner to get you out if they want to. No one likes to live with that insecurity, especially in their declining years.
In our case, it was knowing that we would be in the same city for at least five years and having enough money to buy a place we wouldn't mind living in for at least twice that long.
But it really is a very personal, and context-specific decision. The principal fallacy underlying most of what is out there is that there is a single decision that is the best for everyone, in every situation, in any location.
London prices seem to exist in an uncorrectable bubble. There's been little or no drop in sale prices that I can see, especially in the middle-class professional couple first home market (two beds, near a tube station, not a fixer-upper). The supply seems to have slowed but the demand is so high that you have to be ridiculously fast to get anything; we've seen on several occasions houses under offer on the first morning of viewings, and off the market by the end of the day. Agents would call my wife and say that if she couldn't make a lunchtime viewing not to bother as the property would be gone by the next day.
(On boilers and gardens: we're getting the owner to service the boiler as a condition of sale, and I've got emergency breakdown cover for it, and the house only has that odd woodchip/shingly stuff at the front and decking at the back. No lawnmower for me.)
Actually, the one thing that's really grated this week is chancel insurance. What a ridiculous historical hangover that it should even be something you need to check for. And whilst I'd decided not to bother insuring against chancel repair liability, apparently the mortgage lender will demand it.
The London market exhibits what many real estate analysts refer to as "fortress" dynamics. Like San Francisco and Manhattan, those markets are less affected by cyclical downturns because there is a critical mass of very wealthy tennants who aren't going to worry about drops in income, personal debt or unemployment, which drive "normal" markets.
In the US for instance there are nearly 8M people with over a million dollars in net investable assets (so not including their home equity, cars etc...) and most of these people are heavily concentrated in a hndful of cities like NYC, LA, SF. Those markets (esp. London) are also exposed to and distorted by wealthy foreigners.
In San Francisco prices haven't gone all that much since the worst recession in the past half century hit california, dropping about 10-15%, while prices have completely crashed in nearby middle class enclaves like Vallejo or West Oakland.