Let me tell you about my glorious homes. All four of them, that is.
First there’s the top-floor Victorian maisonette in North Oxford. Neutrally decorated, it has three bedrooms, two bathrooms with one ensuite, a stylish kitchen-diner, vast living room, utility room, cloakroom, attic, toolroom and a huge garden maintained by a gardener.
Huge shade trees mean I wake up to birdsong each morning. Excellent schools and Oxford’s dreaming spires are nearby.
There is off-street parking, a non-stop bus service, shops and restaurants. No wonder it’s worth nearly £1 million.
Liz Hodgkinson (pictured) owns four homes with no mortgage on any of them. Here, she explains how she has managed to afford them. Pictured is Liz relaxing in one of her two homes in Oxford
Then there is the modern designer flat, also in Oxford. In a gated development with allocated parking, it offers easy urban living with its open-plan kitchen-cum-living room. It’s probably worth around £260,000.
Third is the Fifties flat in Shepherd’s Bush, West London, with a spacious living room, eat-in kitchen, large double bedroom and private balcony. There is a beautiful communal garden, Westfield shopping centre is five minutes away and Marble Arch is ten minutes by Tube. It’s worth £500,000.
Finally, there is the charming first-floor seafront flat in Worthing, West Sussex, in a high-Victorian listed building. Once part of a classy hotel, it is worth around £200,000. It offers sea views, a lift and concierge.
These homes are mine, with no mortgage on any of them. I am one of those greedy baby boomers hogging all the housing stock with second homes . . . except that I have four.
How have I managed this? My first step on the solo property ladder came after my divorce in the late Eighties. My husband and I divided the so-called assets 50:50 and I moved into a large, run-down flat in Notting Hill, West London.
This is her charming first-floor seafront flat in Worthing, West Sussex, in a high-Victorian listed building. Once part of a classy hotel, it is worth around £200,000 and offers sea views, a lift and a cocierge
The area was coming up fast and, after renovating the property, I sold it for a good profit and moved to a cheaper house in Hammersmith. I came out mortgage-free, with £150,000 to spare.
That was the first time I’d ever had any money, and I decided to invest in property. I bought two tiny flats in a Thirties block for £30,000 each, which soon increased in value as well. So I sold them and bought more.
In 2004 my partner died and I inherited our shared holiday flat in Worthing. Selling it, and the Hammersmith house, enabled me to invest once more.
So gradually I came to own all these properties mortgage-free.
Three are rented out, bringing in between £40,000 and £50,000 a year (before tax), and providing a nice pension. The Oxford maisonette is my main home, where I live alone.
She says that three of her homes are rented out and they bring her between £40,000 and £50,000 a year before tax, providing her with a nice pension. Pictured is one of her properties, a flat in west London
I was greedier still until a year ago, when I sold a fifth property — another flat in Worthing. And I am looking for more homes.
We baby boomers have been accused of being an avaricious, acquisitive generation, selfishly stockpiling homes while going on endless round-the-world cruises while millennials are forced to keep living with their parents or in rat-infested tenements.
Many will never own a home, we are told, and it’s all our — my — fault. Well, boo-hoo.
Recent research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that a record one in six 55 to 64-year-olds owns a second property. And while we grasping oldies buy up home after home, ownership among the younger generation fell to 27 per cent in 2016, from 65 per cent 20 years previously.
This is no surprise, as over the past 20 years house prices have risen seven times faster than average incomes. One in three thirtysomethings, the report concludes, will never own a home.
She also owns this modern designer flat, in Oxford. In a gated development with allocated parking, it offers easy urban living with its open-plan kitchen-cum-living room. She believes it is worth around £260,000
So, do I feel guilty? Sorry, no.
For while we baby boomers certainly benefited from great economic growth, most of us, unlike today’s hedonistic millennials, never had any fun when we were young.
We married early, worked hard and bought wrecks that we gradually did up. It was by being prudent all our lives that we have been able to afford a second or third home in our dotage.
I have been shrewdly buying and selling properties for profit for more than 30 years.
The other main reason for owning second homes is that they make better investments than getting 0.1 per cent interest on our savings at the bank.
As for millennials being poverty-stricken, if you visit any city pub or wine bar from around six in the evening, you will find it heaving with young people who think nothing of spending a week’s wages on booze.
This is the top-floor Victorian maisonette in North Oxford. Neutrally decorated, it has three bedrooms, two bathrooms with one ensuite, a stylish kitchen-diner, vast living room, utility room, cloakroom, attic, toolroom and a huge garden maintained by a gardener
Drinking and eating out every night is their choice, fine. But before they condemn us oldies, they should look to their own lifestyles to explain why they can’t save for a deposit.
The way I see it, I am providing nice little homes. And for my tenants — those millennials who resent my good fortune so keenly — there are many advantages in having me as a landlady.
They have security of tenure but are not responsible for repairs, maintenance, service charges or replacements. If they ring up to say the washing machine or shower has broken, within hours they will have a new one at no cost to themselves.
How many homeowners enjoy that sort of service? Many I know pay so much on their mortgage that they have to put up with broken appliances, as they can’t afford to replace them.
Speaking about millenials, she said: ‘Drinking and eating out every night is their choice, fine. But before they condemn us oldies, they should look to their own lifestyles to explain why they can’t save for a deposit’
As for those sob stories about tenants not being able to buy, the truth may be rather different.
Yes, house prices have risen faster than wages. But many of my tenants are on £60,000 to £90,000 a year, so they could easily buy if they wanted to. They are often on secondment or short-term contracts, so they want somewhere fully fitted that they can move into without fuss.
Should they suddenly decide to move out and go to America, for instance, all they have to do is give a month’s notice.
In the absence of a company pension, a husband or a partner, I am a 74-year-old woman who is entirely responsible for herself, and rents from these properties keep me afloat in my old age.
Because of them, I am not sponging off the state. And if any of my tenants wants to buy one of my properties, they can.
There is another factor rarely mentioned, which is that home ownership — for most — is not what it seems. Although it is sold as an aspirational dream, the fact is that if you have a mortgage, you don’t even own your home. The mortgage company owns it and holds on to the deeds.
She adds: ‘In the absence of a company pension, a husband or a partner, I am a 74-year-old woman who is entirely responsible for herself, and rents from these properties keep me afloat in my old age’
You can be kicked out for defaulting on the mortgage, and most of the monthly mortgage payment is interest on the loan. It takes years for any appreciable capital to be paid off.
Further, if you buy leasehold, you are buying a length of tenure rather than actual ownership and as the lease runs down, your home loses value until eventually it is worth nothing. Many new homes are sold leasehold — and most properties that come under the Government’s Help To Buy scheme are leasehold as well.
It is also untrue to say we dreadful house-blocking baby boomers are keeping house prices high. The market is the market and any property will only ever sell at a price the market can take.
In fact, we oldsters can be tough negotiators, so it could be argued that we are keeping prices down.
And it’s not all bad news. Millennials have a bonanza to come. Because we oldies are buying up so many properties, when we die, our children will inherit on average £100,000 each.
My two sons and five grandchildren will be the eventual beneficiaries of my property empire. And as they cash in their legacies, they might bear in mind that most of my generation inherited nothing from our parents. We had no bank of Mum and Dad.
If we seem rich now, it is only by our own careful efforts. So don’t snipe at us — learn from us!