The Rat and Mouse interview – Graham Norwood

A regular contributor to the Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, FT, Daily Mail, Independent, Guardian, Observer and others, Graham Norwood is without doubt the UK’s most prolific property journalist. We’re delighted he agreed to take part in this summer’s Rat and Mouse interview series.nIf nobody’s ever described you before as the James Brown of property journalism, arguably the hardest working writer in the business, then let me be the first. When and in what circumstances did you start writing about the residential property market?n
20110726Graham_Norwood.jpgJames Brown huh? Nice compliment but way too flattering – any freelance journalist making a decent living out of writing has to work a lot these days. I began writing about property back in 1999 as I was leaving the BBC and just as the British love affair with home ownership was being consummated. Since then, it’s been full time residential journalism, with four books along the way.n
What explains the British obsession with homeownership, compared to, say, the attitude of some of our European neighbours?n
Britons are peculiarly individualistic. Owning a book and leaving it to gather dust after we read it is much more popular than borrowing one and passing it to others afterwards, hence the demise of some libraries. Likewise we prefer owning a home over renting one – even if in some circumstances (early and late adult life, in particular) the flexibility of renting makes more sense. But it’s changing, slowly.nIronically Thatcher made home ownership a symbol of achievement, and then her political lovechild Blair tried to get us all to feel good about it. Now David Cameron’s term in office may see the rise of rental accommodation – if for no other reason than that he appears reluctant to get financial institutions to lend to younger buyers.n
For the Rat and Mouse, the inherent contradictions and self-deception of the British relationship with property are fascinating and largely inspired the blog. Houses are both hugely emotional purchases and important personal investments… and the two don’t necessarily mix very well. I was wondering if you’ve seen any changes in the way Brits view their homes during the years you’ve been writing on the subject?nRead more from Graham after the jump.nn (more…)