Say It Aloud
August 22, 2008 5:02 PM   Subscribe

Norfolk & Holmes is no ordinary estate agency.

More here.
posted by chuckdarwin (10 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
In a nation where the poorest and most vulnerable have become the ultimate victims of our country's greedy obsession with property

"Greedy obsession with property?" Geez, are you sure the name of the agency isn't Marx & Lenin?
posted by davidmsc at 5:18 PM on August 22, 2008

Though I don't personally find this uproariously funny, I do think the use of humor in the furtherance of socially conscious, progressive political goals (in this case, affordable housing) is a good thing. So kudos to Riley and whoever else is responsible. And thanks for your post title, chuckdarwin: indeed, saying "Norfolk and Holmes" aloud resulted in getting the pun.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:54 PM on August 22, 2008

Geez, are you sure the name of the agency isn't Marx & Lenin?

Geez, what a stupid thing to say.
posted by homunculus at 9:01 PM on August 22, 2008 [5 favorites]

Wow. I wish there were something like that last link for here in the states. Is there?
posted by trip and a half at 12:21 AM on August 23, 2008

Homunculus, you need to read a book on the Reagan years. You say, "unsound economic policy". I point and scream, "communist!", preferably with as much handwaving freakoutery as possible. Repeat.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:44 AM on August 23, 2008

davidsc: Have you had your head under a rock for that last decade, or have you not noticed people buying house after house because they thought that owning a pile of bricks was a sure path to future prosperity?

You don't have to be a communist to believe that this really wasn't a good idea.
posted by pharm at 1:07 AM on August 23, 2008

I watched this program and found it really interesting. I thought the guy was highlighting an important problem, and couldn't see how there could be nearly a million properties abandoned in the UK (there are only sixty million people in the UK, so filling these could go a long way to solving the problem). I was quite amazed by this level of market failure, how could these resources not be being used?
For those of you not completely clued up on the situation in the UK, there has been a large migration of people to the South East of England over the last fifty years. There are also restrictive greenbelt planning laws in place that make it quite hard to build a new house (certainly more difficult than in America). Whatever the rights and wrongs of this as a policy, it's raised property prices quite dramatically and many people can't afford their own home.
The program wasn't very informative, but the presenter was trying to meet with the housing minister to get her to open these properties up to the market, sounds like a really good idea.
I went to this page which sets out the housing minister's policy though, and it says that there are 680 000 empty homes in Britain, of which over 500 000 are privately owned. It also says

"Transactional properties are actively marketed or are being prepared for occupation. More than half of homes that are empty at any given time are transactional."

So a good proportion of these are in the process of being reoccupied. I think this explains a lot of the perceived market failure.
A part of the program was set in Liverpool (declining, industrial city), where whole streets of houses were unoccupied. I suspect that a lot of the empty housing is in areas where people really don't want to live any more, like areas of the north that have suffered as a result of deindustrialisation. Another part of the program showed how a lot housing was owned by local councils, who were just sitting on the property and hadn't worked out what to do with it yet. The turgid machinations of local government probably explains the rest of the enigma.
So apart from pressuring local councils and property owners to get back some of these properties on the market, which the government is already doing, I can't see a lot more that can be done.
In conclusion, things are often the way they are for a reason, and are rarely simple to solve.
posted by greytape at 3:03 AM on August 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

My father passed away late last year and his children were left his house in the SE of England in his will. The house is in the SE of England (just an hour and a bit away from London by train), but the house is sitting empty because of the rapidly deflating housing market. Doesn't look like we'll ever be able to sell it.
posted by schwa at 9:08 AM on August 23, 2008

Wow. I wish there were something like that last link for here in the states. Is there?

Not to my knowledge, no.
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:15 AM on August 24, 2008

A related story from Australia, with accompanying wiki
posted by bystander at 6:33 PM on August 24, 2008

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