Thursday, August 19, 2010

I was the other day trying to convince a visitor that, if you ran numbers showing the average Spaniard that, if he sold one of the inherited family flats and invested the proceeds for 5 years, he’d then have more assets than if he just kept the place empty for this period, he’d just look at you as if you were mad. Here’s an extract from an IBEX Salad post which addresses this issue from a different standpoint:- “ . . the yield on property investments in this country, outside of certain large cities, is absolutely miserly and rare are the places in which rents will actually cover an 80 percent mortgage on a home. On the other hand, one would think that this same state of affairs would result in a vibrant rental market but, unfortunately, Spaniards do not arbitrage one against the other because the calculation – if that is what it is – made here is not based on squaring the books on a monthly basis but by way of a long term comparison of the perceived qualities of money and property. The latter wins hands down with certain very real, though not specifically quantifiable, effects on the real estate market.”

The emphasis is on “perceived qualities” and this helps to explain why very few of us foreigners understand the property market here. Or ever will. I’m reminded of my early days here, when the sellers of the first two properties on which I made offers immediately raised their asking price. And were surprised when I walked away. I’ve always assumed they felt that, if there was a Brit willing to buy the property anywhere near what they were asking for it, then they’d surely under-priced it. Or that there was a legion of bigger fools in the background.

But back to the humdrum . . . After a decade of telling me my kitchen was not as clean as perhaps it could be, my two daughters have finally accepted the sense of my standard response - “Well, I have absolutely no problem with you cleaning it.” As a result, I couldn’t get into the bloody place last night for the glare emanating from the combination of four white-tiled walls, a similarly surfaced floor and the serried ranks of gleaming white units.

Talking of my daughters . . . They’ve asked me why this is the fifth or sixth year in a row their sleep has been disturbed by granite-pounding machines on the building site thirty metres from their bedrooms. And, moreover, why on earth this starts at 8.30 (equals 6.30 in the UK) of an August morning. Not being privy to the secrets of the Spanish construction industry, what can I say other than Spain is sometimes very different not only from other countries but also from itself? My best guess is that the constructor is desperate to wring some more stage payments out of the poor deluded souls who in 2002-3 contracted to buy a re-sellable, high-profit-generating house for delivery in 2006. And to think I once laid a bet with a reader that they wouldn’t be finished until 2008!

My daughters have also requested I use a different fork for the fog food from the ones we use for our meals. To which I’ve replied that I certainly will when they’ve bought me a special canine implement. No wonder they come down with everything going round, despite their “healthy” eating. Or perhaps because of it.

What I’m waiting for is for my daughters to ask me why my shirts aren’t better ironed. But as young British women don’t seem to iron anything these days, this could be a long wait. Or at least a non-productive exchange. I don’t, by the way, imagine that young middle-class Spanish women (or men!) do very much more ironing than their British counterparts. Either they live at home and their mothers do it or they’re married and pay a cheap chica to do this. And much else.

Meanwhile, it’s now 10.15am and – with the dogs walked and fed, my shirts ironed and the dishes done - the only sign of any of my five house-guests has been my younger daughter coming down to complain that my clanging around (in sunglasses) in the kitchen was disturbing her even more than the granite-cracking machine.

Of which this is a foto . . .

Finally . . . My apologies to those who tried to get The Times article I cited in the initial version of yesterday's post. I forgot that this now needs a subscription.


CafeMark said...

I really don't see any difference between the Brits and the Spanish in their hunger to invest in property. Safe as houses, don't you think? Amazingly enough house prices have held up at insane levels in southern England.

Colin said...

OK but I wasn't really talking about the main residence or even a second holiday/weekend home. I was referring to the iherited properties which pile up in the average Spanish middle class family. In fact, Spain is, I believe, no. 1 in Europe when it comes to first, second and third homes. And quite possibly fourth and fifth homes as well. But no one surveys these.