Britain's housing fever

For Sale and To Let boards advertise properties in Birmingham, England.

TEXT OF INTERVIEWSCOTT JAGOW: We have a great little story about just how jacked up the housing market is in Britain. Our man in London Stephen Beard is here. OK Stephen, tell us what happened.

STEPHEN BEARD: A newspaper in Birmingham reprinted a 25-year-old copy of their newspaper to commemorate the 25th anniversary of a famous victory by their local soccer team, Aston Villa. Now in this 25-year-old newspaper there was an ad for a very nice four-bedroom property selling for £53,000, that's about $100,000. Well dozens of readers who spotted the ad were so carried away by the price, that they inundated the property with phone calls. The phone number listed was the same as for the property today. What had changed of course was price.

JAGOW: Well how much was it?

BEARD: At least 10 times more.

JAGOW: Geez.

BEARD: The lady who owns the property said she has no intention of selling the home, and certainly not for £53,000. It just give you an indication how fevered they are in this country over property.

JAGOW: That's what strikes me about it: It smacks of desperation.

BEARD: Absolute desperation, yes. Unlike the U.S., the housing market in the U.K. has not turned down, it goes ever upwards and onwards. And people really are desperate, particularly young people, to get their first foot on the rung up the so-called property ladder.

JAGOW: Alright Stephen Beard in London, thank you.

BEARD: OK Scott.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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