Mortgage, Mortgage, Mortgage: house-buying in 2017

Our housing correspondent, BARRATT HOLMES, on the return to Croydon of a weekly piece of property porn

The Channel 4 property show Location, Location, Location this week comes to Croydon and, in its 23rd series, delivers an episode which sums up the wretched state of today’s unaffordable housing market in south London quite neatly, with the featured house-hunters needing substantial savings and three salaries to be able to afford to buy a home.

Coming to a street near you: Kirstie Allsop and Phil Spencer have been filming in Croydon

The programme, which is transmitted on Wednesday at 8pm, features three former school friends, all now established in good jobs with salaries, but which would never be enough for any one of them singularly to be able to get near even a deposit for one of the rabbit hutches in the sky which profit-hungry developers are putting up around town.

With property prices for flats and houses now north of £350,000 for even the most modest of Victorian terraced houses, the sort of couples or singletons who used to be featured when the show was first aired are today being expected to find upwards of £40,000 just as a deposit on a home. With a standard repayment mortgage, that would mean a crippling monthly bill of more than £1,600 – or total repayments of £19,200 per year.

Faced with that eye-watering prospect just to get on the first rung of the  property ladder, Croydon’s three amigos opted for a novel solution by clubbing together their combined resources to buy a home – while also potentially creating a nightmare version of Men Behaving Badly meets Peep Show.

When the Channel 4 programme’s producers were planning to film in Croydon in March, they liked the trio’s tweak to the programme’s usual format and moved into action to try to find them a suitable home to buy.

With co-presenter Kirstie Allsop leading the way, the three guys laid out their requirements, which included good travel links for the commute into central London and a property which offered three similar-sized bedrooms.

The trio, who used to be in a band together (what happened to Ringo is not revealed in the programme), also wanted space where they could practice their eclectic guitars without disturbing the neighbours too much. It was a challenging spreadsheet to set before the production team’s impressively connected squad of house-finders.

Location³ has survived becoming too tired a format because of many viewers’ constant fascination with their homes, improving them, and their valuations. The programme is undoubtedly property porn, providing estate agents with wet dreams, helping to add thousands to local property values after Location³ has visited an area.

The show has been airing for long enough now – the first programme was made in 2000 – that this latest series is including a few wistful glances back to previous visits to towns and cities, a time when Phil Spencer still had some hair and when property prices were in some cases half of what is being asked in 2017.

There should be scope for that in this Wednesday’s show, as Allsop marches her three young men through Addiscombe and South Norwood in search of a home which could only be bought with the purchase power of three combined salaries.

“Someone once said that they wanted to make Britain a property-owning democracy,” someone close to this week’s programme said. “But this week’s Location, Location, Location in Croydon will demonstrate quite how far out of the reach of ordinary working families owning a home really is.

“That obsession with property ownership has served us very poorly – the time has long since passed when the government, the Mayor of London and our local boroughs should be developing homes for social rent, to meet the growing demand, and to take the heat out of the steaming private housing market.”

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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