Yesterday, the Daily Express told us that the housing crash was over. Today, we hear from the Times and the Observer that the middle classes are drowning in debt and the "love affair" with real estate is over.
According to the Observer, debt advice agencies are seeing a "new type of customer - the cash-strapped middle income family". The backbone of Middle England went a little crazy at the high Street bank. Those cheap teaser interest rates were just too attractive; forms were filled out, money was dished out, and far too many consumer durables were purchased. Now, it is payback time, and people just can't cope. Suddenly, it is boom time for debt advice agencies in those dainty little English towns like Tunbridge Wells, Cambridge and Horsham.
Ironically, it is those typical working-class concerns that are now pushing the middle classes over the edge. Big increases in food and utility costs are starting to financially stretch middle-class budgets. With income and wealth polarising in the UK, maybe we are all becoming working-class now.
Middle-class anxiety will not be soothed by today's article in The Times. Six months behind the news, the Times reports that "the consensus has it that the housing boom is over."
Unfortunately, the Times was too blinded by advertising revenues to see the turning point. All the major house price indicators suggest the market turned somewhere between August and October last year. Perhaps, its clarity of vision today comes from a sudden drop-off in calls from developers anxious to promote their latest two bedroomed apartment project in south London.
Whatever the reason, The Times has finally found the housing crash, and thinks it will have a profound effect on the way we see the world. "Downturn, correction, bust: whatever the name, the present situation may even be causing many Britons to question the very structure of home ownership in the UK". Does this mean some of us might prefer to rent and be free rather than buy and live like a serf?