January 2018, Grazia 

Amy Lavelle thought getting on the property ladder would bring security and contentment – but in an uncertain world it’s left her more anxious than ever

It’s been a year since I waved Generation Rent goodbye and slotted a new key into my new front door, one that I actually own. This, I thought – as I made my husband pick me up and took a dozen photos of him carrying me over the threshold until we had the perfect shot – was adulthood. The only things left to do were to paint the walls a bold but instantly regrettable choice and hang the art we’ve had propped against walls for the last two years.

Only, in the months that have followed, instead of the warm feeling of self-assurance, security and comfort that come with the knowledge you’ve Done e Right ing and made a sizeable investment in your future instead of lining someone else’s pockets with rent money, I’ve been feeling sick, anxious and uncertain. The reality is that, post-Brexit, amid falling house prices and in an uncertain economy, buying a house doesn’t feel like the sensible choice any more. In fact, it feels just plain stupid.

This would be easy to pass off as just a bad case of buyer’s remorse, one that is sure to wear off in time, but the numbers say otherwise. Pre-Brexit, house prices were rising each year by around 8%; recently, they’ve dropped by 5%, according to the Office for National Statistics. The property website Zoopla confirms this with its recent report that would-be sellers are slashing asking prices in a bid to find a buyer.

Prices have been cut on 35% of properties – the highest level for six years. Before the referendum, the figure was 29%. The thought that gnaws at me is that, once we’ve fully separated from the EU, property will come to be worth a fraction of the price we once paid for it. Anyone who has made it on to the fabled property ladder (unless they made the leap years ago) will be left stuck, clinging on to that entry-level rung they latched on to. Frankly, that’s terrifying.

A generation told they’ll never be able to dream of life beyond a at share with six strangers they found on Gumtree may be realising that that’s not the case. Only, actually, they’re happier with their borrowed homes. The truth is, becoming a homeowner has come to mean something different to what it meant to our parents and generations before us. Instead of a crucial marker of adulthood, it’s come to represent being tied down to one place that you may no longer feel sure of, moving miles away from family and friends in order to be able to afford in the first place, and getting stuck with the bill if the boiler breaks down. Adulthood, yes, but only one version. My house is like a sprawling baby that eats money and stamps all over our social life with its constant need for attention, but doesn’t have the pay-off of looking after us in old age. We have the lazy, ungrateful kind that will turf us into a cheap nursing home because, by then, the investment might not be worth anything.

If becoming a homeowner has taught me anything, it’s that there are other choices out there. I have become the dirge of Generation Rent, the wizened old crone of house parties and nights at the pub, lled with cautionary tales of 95% mortgages and stamp duty. Friends who are saving for a deposit look to me hopefully as proof that it’s possible to sidestep a lifetime of renting. After all, I’m a freelance journalist and that’s barely a job, they happily point out. In turn, I will sagely shake my head, gather them to me and launch into my baby analogy, until they begin to look suitably chastened and a bit pale. Renting may not be the ideal situation, but it does allow us to live in the cities we could never hope to buy in. In houses that, for a buyer, would demand a deposit that would require years of saving. And renting offers the flexibility to spend our disposable income as we want to. That’s a lot to give up for an outdated milestone that may yet prove to be a faulty investment. ere are other options for you to invest in.

At the end of my life, I’ll be able to look back and know that I did it: I owned my own share of bricks and mortar. But it would be nice if I’d managed to shoehorn in a few other accomplishments and life experiences along the way, too, without as much browbeating, hair pulling and sacrifices to the bank that owns me. Because, even if that’s not exactly the case, that’s sure what it feels like