A place to call home


David Lynch

A place to call home

It was 224 years ago today that the genie left the bottle and we all descended into slack-jawed suckers in thrall to the lure of money and riches.

A bit overly-emotive perhaps? Maybe.

Under the shade of a Buttonwood tree (or so the legend has it) at the lower end of Manhattan, 24 stockbrokers and merchants established the New York Stock Exchange that day, and forever altered the way we view life and living and what it means to have a happy and fruitful existence on this blue planet of ours.

*By the by, on the days that it rained, apparently the 24 retreated to a nearby coffee emporium and conducted their business there, and thus the world's coffee house culture was also born - maybe.*

However, over time, that Buttonwood tree on Wall Street disappeared and great towering monuments to global finance grew up all around it.

So you could say our image and understanding of the modern world began this day 224 years ago.

It took nearly two centuries before this wholesale desire for riches really took hold on our own little island.

Our drug of choice was/is property.

I'm on the hunt for a home. Not a house. Not an investment opportunity, but a bonafide home. A place to call your own. A place to make your own. A place of peace and personality.

This is of course what everyone wants and ultimately deserves. But we have a serious infatuation and love affair with property here that is bordering on the obsessive.

Having a Sunday dinner with the family over the weekend began with the obligatory conversation about houses. Of course everyone around the table is aware that I'm on the lookout, so it wasn't out of the blue to start on that topic.

But it's a part of nearly every discussion with anybody my own age too. After the crash in 2007 property became a bad word. A word uttered only in hushed tones and followed usually with a spit.

Less than ten years later and that previous stigma has all but disappeared - for those starting out on the property ladder anyway. Many suffered and still suffer because of our infatuation a decade ago, which led to the end of the love affair - temporarily.

But here's the rub - there's not enough property going around to feed the demand now. This can only mean that there will be a massive surge to build more housing in the years to come, right? A surge which will boost the economy and elevate Ireland back towards were we were pre-2007, yeah? Except, there's a problem.

It's called 'getting a mortgage'. Now there's no point arguing about it, ten years ago mortgages were being flung around with reckless abandon, like confetti at a wedding. Anyone and everyone, no matter what their financial situation, was offered a mortgage.

'You want a 100 per cent mortgage? Here, take a 110 per cent one, just in case.'

It's gone to the other extreme today. A ten per cent deposit - minimum - and the kind of background checks that would make a Homeland Security official blush.

So there's less mortgages available and less houses too. We need to re-calibrate our national thinking here and reflect on what really matters to us.

Lets all try and have a conversation which doesn't include a property discussion.

You can blame those Wall Street merchants back in 1792 for some of it, but certainly not all of it.