My weekly roundup of good money and investing reads from across the web.
The great British housing debate has run for my lifetime and I suspect it will run for many more to come.
Are houses too expensive? Are they actually cheap? Is it fair? Should we even care? We don’t debate the price of other essentials over the After Eight mints, such as the price of cars, or milk, or indeed After Eight mints.
Of course, everyone needs somewhere to live, which is what gives the housing debate its special potency. Shelter comes very high (or rather low) on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. (Although I’ve just noticed it comes after sex, so maybe all those 20-somethings should stop worrying that pensioners have it so good!)
You can always rent if, like me, you stubbornly persist in your costly belief that houses priced at over 5x average earnings and 30x annual rents are not sustainable, but rather an artifact of unusually low interest rates.
But renting doesn’t solve the “is it fair?” conundrum. Just in today’s Guardian, the kids are up in arms about the cost of a room in London. To quote one roofless vagabond:
“I earn £22,000; it’s not a vast amount, but I never thought I would be completely priced out. I can’t face meeting another ‘rah’ with bouffant hair looking for someone to spend £800 a month on a room in his flat.”
Some will say he should just leave London, but living in London can be crucial for certain ambitious or competitive career paths, as well as the experience of a lifetime. Plenty of time to leave when you’ve made it or given up in your late 30s and 40s. Besides, mile after mile filled with smug 30-somethings and oligarchs without a shabby student terrace in sight would also not be very good for London. (Paris or Manhattan, anyone?)
Still, one itinerant media worker’s woes is another’s opportunity – The Telegraph is reporting that buy-to-let is now back:
Britain’s army of buy-to-let landlords, if they have chosen their properties wisely, are now benefiting from record rents, high demand, shrinking void periods, and often very low interest rates on their mortgages.
The market is beginning to open up for new entrants too, with specialist lending companies such as Paragon wanting to take on new business, and larger groups, such as Santander’s buy-to-let arm, showing an interest in lending to more small landlords next year.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below – but first pass the After Eight mints please.
Christmas reminder: There’s just nine days left to take advantage of Amazon’s 12 days of Christmas campaign.
Incidentally, I don’t know how I ever shopped for Christmas before Amazon. A few arty bits and pieces and the odd fancy girl present aside, for years now I’ve done all my Christmas shopping in slippers, sometimes with a mince pie and always with something quaffable.
My family gathers at my parents’ house every year, too, so I invariably get my orders mailed there directly.
Is modern life really so rubbish?
Money and investing blogs
- Stupid simple stock market tricks – Get Rich Slowly
- There’s plenty of time for a 60% decline – RIT
- Trading on the Titantic – The Psy-Fi blog
- Creative destruction and job flows – Stumbling & Mumbling
- Waiting for the 100-year flood – Investing Caffeine
- Fama: Doom is in the price – Dimensional
- P/E 10 as a stock share screener – Fat Pitch
- Microfinancing for business startups – The Digerati Life
- When online shopping goes wrong – Five Cent Nickel
Mainstream financial media
- The new super-charged index funds – Wall Street Journal
- Why your stocks are acting like commodities – Wall Street Journal
- Growth trusts look cheap vs. income trusts – Motley Fool
- We’re all gulled by special offers – Peston/BBC
- Opportunities in unloved small-cap investment trusts – FT
- John Lee’s latest portfolio update – FT
- Why Germany will save the Euro – FT
- Impact investment is a burgeoning asset class – FT
- Hoping for a Santa Claus rally – Independent
- Income from an immediate vesting personal pension – Telegraph
- The cost of childcare? £26,000 – The Guardian
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