I rolled my eyes at a piece in the Daily Mail at the weekend. The headline: Heartbreak Home: One woman’s blow by blow account of what it’s like trying to sell a house in the credit crunch.
This is how it begins:
It was reported yesterday that house prices are falling at their fastest rate since the 1990s property crash. There are already a million unsold homes in Britain – with a tale of misery behind each one. Here, Femail charts the agonising diary of one family’s attempts to sell up. Karen Green from Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, is a 38-year-old widow with four children. She works full-time as a dental receptionist. Her children are Michael, 18, Nicky, 16, Charlotte, 13, and Sophie, eight. Her three youngest children attend a private day school.
This lady’s “tale of misery” revolves around her decision to sell her large £575,000 home in Worcestershire and buy a £400,000 home, so that she can pay off debts and spend the surplus capital on her children’s school fees. The value of her home drops to £470,000 as the months pass, and the tale ends with her buyer pulling out at the last minute.
I know I should feel sorry for her – her husband died eight years ago and she is struggling to support her young family – but I can’t help thinking that her priorities are bonkers. She spends £20,000 a year on posh schools and music lessons; the 50-mile round trips to aforementioned posh schools (in her spendy BMW X3) amount to an additional £6,000 a year. And she’s on a dental receptionist’s salary! No wonder she’s skint.
Her argument is that she didn’t want to further unsettle the children by moving them to regular schools after her husband’s death. However, as the three oldest children would have all moved schools during the intervening years – with the youngest child entering education only after the husband’s death – I’m unconvinced. I know how she could save £26,000 a year and avoid the “agonising prospect” (her words) of selling up in an unfavourable economic climate….
Heartless, moi? Hmm, perhaps. But why are so many people of such modest means so determined to live lifestyles that they clearly cannot afford? It’s an attitude – and a sense of entitlement – bamboozles me every time.