Thursday, February 25, 2010

Debbie Moore does get a free lunch...actually

Now don't get confused. We're not talking about Demi Moore the US actress who is 47, was born in New Mexico, USA and stars in films. We're talking about Debbie Moore the founder of Pineapple Dance Studio who is 63, was born in Manchester, England and gets people to dance.  Both brilliantly successful. In 1982, Debbie M became the first woman to launch a company on the London Stock Exchange and must have made a bit of a fortune because  on 21st Feb the Sunday Times ran an article on her : Fame & Fortune - amazing what a simple blogger can deduce isn't it? (Deduction 1.) What caught my eye was her closing statement. In answer to the standard question: What's the most important lesson you've learnt about money? She said: There's no such thing as a free lunch.

Wow! Just the sort of comment guaranteed to get a quick riposte on this blog. So I backtracked through the article for free lunch evidence. My Sherlockian juices were running freely now as I chewed my deerstalker hat and pensively knocked my pipe out on my head. I suspected I would find a clue when I saw a question: Do you own a property?    I 've got a beautiful Georgian mews house in Belgravia... She bought it in about 2000 for £1.5m and a recent valuation is £3.2m, which is a 113% gain. I then  checked on the land registry website for the house price index for postcode SW1W, Westminster, London and found that the house price growth over the 10 years has been 115%.  So DM's mews house, on its land (she owns that too), in that location, appreciated in value almost exactly in line with house price history for that district.  Another factor: although the government building cost index is not quite up to date, it now costs about 55% more than it did in 2000 to build houses. Deduction 2: there is an unexplained extra gain of 60% above the current value of the bricks and mortar. Aha! PROOF. In my excitement I woke the slumbering Mrs Hudson from her Sunday afternoon nap and then texted Dr Watson via the penny post: 'Make haste - the streets of London really are lined with gold'.  Debbie Moore's free lunch had been exposed.  There she was thinking 'There's no such thing..' and her house is built on one!  The land value underneath her house has gone up by about £870,000 over the 10 years she's owned it (£7250 a month). Better than we get in Baker Street.

I expect DM, like all of us homeowners, keeps her great home good, by mending  manky windows and clearing bunged-up drains.  But the value of the footprint of land each house sits on, costs the owner nothing to nurture, yet actually has gained over just about any stretch of 10 years you can name. As homeowners we cannot individually make our land value change - it is what it is because of where it is.   We can just about keep the building's value steady by doing repairs and renovations, but the land value just keeps going up regardless - and get this - there is no tax on it!  

So if your name is Debbie Moore, Demi Moore, Patrick Moore, Roger Moore, Moriaty-Holmes, George Cameron, Gordon Darling, Nick Cable, or even real time, real estate Henry George - never forget that, if a homeowner, YOU ARE GETTING A FREE LUNCH. (If you know a politician who believes in fairness be careful what you say about this. They might put a stop to this gravy train for the sake of the renters). Browse the book.

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