Here’s No.2. We had a hoot doing this one, as you’ll see when I post the outtakes videos. Coming soon x
Buying the freehold of a property is usually one of those below the waterline affairs, a bit like getting the drains done or lancing the cat’s boils: You sort of know it’s the right thing to do, but there’s scant instant gratification and invariably you come away wondering why you bothered. It does seem frightfully grown-up, and when you mention it to grown-ups who’ve already done it, they all go to that grown-up place where grown-ups go when they’ve grown up and start throwing stuff at you about longevity of leases and the like. Which only serves to confuse you further and makes you wish you’d blown it all on wine gums.
Pretty much anything to do with real estate is breathtakingly dull. From the fatuous language employed by conveyancing lawyers to justify their staggering fees, to the endless bureaucratic leeches waiting in line for their share of the silver, everything is precision-tailored to bore the crap out of you and grind you into acquiescence. Even the figures bandied about at point of sale are so completely beyond your frame of reference, you find yourself internally knocking off a few noughts in order to make sense of them:
Lawyer: Thanks for coming in. Just to clarify – We have prepared and lodged a memorandum of transfer, checked for easements against existing title certificate, conducted relevant authority and chancel repair searches, discussed buildings insurance liabilities with current landlord, checked official copies and covenants relating to ongoing maintenance of common parts, and some other shit you wouldn’t understand. If all the above is in order, we suggest a sum in advance of £500,000 would be appropriate for services rendered to date. Help yourself to a Freddo Frog on the way out.
See? I mean, how do you respond? By the time you’ve worked out what the first half means to you the layman, the suggested sum will have effectively doubled. Bizarrely, by taking the initial hit you’re quids in. Which is why these SOBs remain gainfully employed and are always on holiday in the week of completion, whilst you are frantically checking the Land Registry for any long-forgotten relatives who may or may not own bits of Norfolk currently in tender to developers.
With the above in mind, I’ve been doing a bit of developing as well, and I don’t mean pictures. What if, in the vein of that bloke Dave who set up his own bank, Idle Eye breaks the mould with a no-nonsense, one-stop shop for people who want to buy stuff without all that suffocating obfuscation? Hear me out:
You: I’d like to buy this, please.
Me: Of course! It costs £x
You: You have been most helpful. Here’s a cheque.
Me: Thank you. I shall bank it forthwith. Enjoy your purchase.
It’s not hard. Really, it isn’t. And who knows, it might even catch on. After all, there’s an election coming up.
Property prices getting a bit steep for you in that there London? Need to stick your flag into a chunk of affordable real estate almost certain to appreciate wildly over the course of several lifetimes? Well guess what? You’re in luck. The Lunar Registry is currently flogging off tracts of land on the Moon, complete with certificate of ownership, full mineral rights and a framed satellite photograph of your very own galactic Shangri-La for the unrepeatable knockdown price of $18.95 an acre. “What could be greater than to own your own crater?” Indeed.
Tempting though this offer may be, it might also be prudent to point out that many of us will be simultaneously drawn to the more desirable hotspots of our celestial neighbour. For example, the Sea of Vapours is looking pretty tidy: Own front door, excellent transport links, ideal for first time buyer, no onward chain. And unorthodox though it may seem at present, Mare Vaporum is likely to be a strong pull for artistic individuals priced out of the likes of Penge and Peckham Rye, and speculative buyers can therefore realistically expect a robust return on any investment made in advance of the inevitable gentrification process. In short, there’s going to be a bunfight.
Let’s presume I want to snap up a couple of acres in the Lake of Dreams, one of the most sought-after locations for adventurous romantics. Lacus Somniorum has, at best, ill-defined borders and includes the flooded impact craters Mason and Plana to the north. Which basically means I’ll be pitching for the south-facing plots like everyone else. To say nothing of future boundary disputes, riff-raff moving into the neighbourhood and the division of maintenance duties once the conversions start:
“Turns out them next door have discovered a rich seam of anorthite that runs DIRECTLY through my back yard and I’ve only just had the bloody thing moonscaped. I’ll be screwed if I’m going to help those nouveau riche shysters any more than I have already, particularly after they only painted their half of the pod doorway. In orange, for Christ’s sake! So petty! And while we’re at it, the sinkhole’s opened up again and guess who’s mucking out the sulphur deposits? Now, I’m no pedant but it’s basic human decency to keep the communal zones clear. Who else do they think does it? And as for the stink that comes out of their kitchen most nights…”
To be fair, Lacus Somniorum is probably not for me. And that goes for pretty much every must-have bolt-hole on the wretched planet – It will become the East Grinstead of the Solar System before you know it and I haven’t got all that long left. So what to do? I’m thinking Pluto’s looking like a good bet right now, as is the Heliopause and Eris if you can be arsed. Or simply wait for Foxtons to open their first gravity-free bar.