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Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

Eight things which don’t make sense about me

Posted by Mark Harrison on March 6, 2008

I was tagged by Nicholas Butler to discuss eight random things about myself. As I understand it, the idea is to write about the stuff that wouldn’t normally have any relevance to my blog, so here goes.

  1. I was stone deaf as a child from the age of about 4 onwards, and started school lipreading rather than being able to hear. Finally, I hit the spot on the waiting list, and had an operation, and have been able to hear since, but being stone deaf during my formative years left me with a slight speech impediment to this day (As I say out loud, I have trouble with the letter between K and M).
  2. Mary and I were going out for eight days before we got engaged. Mary phoned her mother after I proposed, and her first words back to Mary were “I didn’t think it would be long.”
  3. My first business was at age 12-13ish, when I would carry bags from the bus-stop to the classroom for wealthier boys. Sadly, I would spend the money in the tuck shop at morning break, so never really made a goer of the thing.
  4. Last year, I managed to have two car crashes in eight days. In both cases, I was doing zero miles per hour at the time, and the other party admitted liability for running into the back of me. Ironically, the second time, I was in the Morgan because the Bentley was in at the garage for an estimate for the previous week’s crash.
  5. I have a ludicrous number of computers at home – 3 laptops (1 Ubuntu, 1 Win2k, 1WinXP), 1 tablet, 1 desktop (Win2k), 3 servers (1 Win2k, 2 Ubuntu).
  6. I sing tenor at St. Nicholas, Worth, which is pre-Norman conquest. There are always gasps at wedding when the Rector reminds people that people have been getting married there for over 1,000 years.
  7. I didn’t get a driving licence until I was 34, and that at the insistence of Mary, who refused to drive me places when pregnant with our second child. To this day, and despite being an MSCC member and former BDC member, I have little interest in cars – that’s really Mary’s bag. (Though the Felix Dennis thing about being chauffered in Old Rolls Royces has an appeal.)
  8. I have 35 bookcases in the house, most of them Ikea Billy 202x80s, some of them double-stacked (one row of books in front of the other.) I’m not quite sure how many books we have, but I think it’s about 7-8,000.

I tag:


Posted in Rants | 5 Comments »

Northern Rock – politicians’ responses

Posted by Mark Harrison on November 20, 2007

In my earlier post about Northern Rock, I made the comment:

Sadly, the whole thing has degenerated into a political circus.

I’ve had an interesting email response from someone who, for whatever reason, didn’t want to post an open comment on this blog.

The gist of the comment was that I was being a bit harsh on politicians from constituencies where a lot of people stood to lose their jobs, since supporting local people is surely the point of being elected.

Actually, thinking about it over the last few hours, I can respect that viewpoint. Our own local MP spent several years defending her party’s official line on our local hospitals, and saw a huge swing against her, only just holding on to her seat. Since her re-election, her line has changed, and she’s more able to balance what local people want with what the central party view is.

My issue with the political wrangling isn’t that politicians are looking to support local jobs… but that they appear to want to do so at such a ludicrous price to the whole community. If the bulk of Northern Rock jobs are in a small part of the UK, by all means spend the money on growth for the whole community, INCLUDING the 6,500 NR staff who are at risk… don’t spend £4,000,000 per head propping up a failing business.

Another comment that’s been made is that this is a loan, not a payment. I am aware of that, but while the Government are saying that they would be “first in line” to receive any payouts if NR goes under, I’ve also seen differing legal opinions on the subject! Anyone who lends money to a business in serious trouble had better be willing to lose it all.

As an aside, if you have views, especially if you disagree with me, please feel free to post them as comments. I’d rather be shot down in flames and learn something than stick to my own position if you can come up with viewpoints or evidence I’ve not considered!

Posted in Economics, Investment, Northern Rock, Rants | Leave a Comment »

RANT: Why do BTL mortgages cost more than residential ones?

Posted by Mark Harrison on May 4, 2007

BuyToLet (BTL) mortgages have been around for 10 years now, and in all that time, we’ve accepted that they were a bit more expensive than “residential” mortgages.

It was only recently that I thought to ask “why?”

The reasons that were originally given were that landlords were a “higher risk” – that owner-occupiers were less likely to default and run away, leaving the mortgage company with a problem that would take a long while and a lot of staff time to resolve. Landlords were perceived to be more likely to cut and run, since it was “only” an investment, not their own homes at immediate risk.

On this basis, it wasn’t unreasonable that lenders should charge a little more to landlords to balance out this risk. (If you take on more risk, you’ve got to aim for a bigger reward).

However, recent figures by the Council of Mortgage Lenders have shown that the reverse is true. If you look at the mortgages issued in the last 10 years, it turns out that owner-occupiers are more likely to default.

This gives mortgage lenders three choices:

  •  Stick to their own rules, and make BTL mortgages cheaper than residential ones
  • Admit that they are fleecing landlords and taking higher profits and lower risk
  • Admit that, actually, this is a “social engineering” scheme, designed to promote a policy of home ownership rather than landlord-tenant relations.

The third option might sound reasonable, even speaking as a property investor.

But don’t you think that, in a democracy, policies like that ought to be out in the open, discussed, debated and voted on???

And if it’s not the third one, what’s it going to be – an admission of fleecing, or price cuts?

Posted in Property Investment, Rants | 2 Comments »