Tuesday, 13 October 2015
Downsize to buy my children houses? Not on your nelly Mr Peston.
The shaggy haired, ex-BBC economics editor, Robert Peston has called upon a generation of selfish parents to sell their big, family homes in order to fund the purchase of houses for their children.
A strange proclamation from Mr Peston, who is paid £400,000 for his pontifications on all things financial, which even by my far less mathematically expert reckoning means he could probably save up for a couple of months to offer both his grown up sons a pretty decent deposit on a home, even if they want to stay near to daddy in pricey North London.
But that aside, I am still not sure that I agree. Once upon a time I used to think that it was a good idea for parents to flog big houses in order to fund smaller ones for their brood, but that was before I was a parent with a big(ish) house to my name. Now before you think I am showing off, I have a big house for the simple reason that I have a big family.
I grew up in a tiny flat in the centre of Brussels. If I really reached out I could probably have touched a hand to each side of my bedroom, and let me assure you, my arms are not very long. It was shabby, tiny and a million miles from luxurious, but it did the job. There was a roof over my head and I was a short walk from the many dive bars and clubs I would frequent as a teenager.
This left me with a profound lack of interest in spacious, 'show-off' houses. However, I then went on to marry a man who had grown up in a pretty sizeable house (which his parents, now a couple on their own, still rattle around in and have no intention of selling to help anyone out) and proceeded to have four children. This led us down the path, via many well-timed sales and purchases to be the proud possessors of a huge mortgage on decent-sized home.
When I first bought this home I did vaguely think that one day perhaps we could sell up to help the kids set themselves up. But then I had the shock realisation that this would mean that they would leave home, and that wouldn't do at all.
Perhaps I am naive, after all my children are still young, but the prospect of them flying the nest is one that chills me to the bone. The idea of me and my husband knocking around in our big house all alone horrifies me. Yes, it would be tidier, and the fridge would undoubtedly not empty at quite such a pace, but it would be so empty and lonely.
No, far better that my boys stay at home forever and ever (imagine a rather terrifying witch's cackle as the soundtrack to that particular pronouncement). The idea of losing the only people who share my terrible taste in television, who laugh at my jokes, notice when I've had my hair cut and appreciate my cooking doesn't bear thinking about.
So there is no way I am selling my house to make it easier for my boys to escape. Instead perhaps, once they all have jobs, they can help us pay the gigantic mortgage we have on this one, which will still hang like a millstone around our necks well after we have reached pensionable age.
Also, which I am sure would draw opprobrium from a financial expert like Mr Peston, we have no pension fund, so any equity in this house is far more likely to end up funding our years of dribbling in a nursing home, than flash pads for our four boys.