From The Guardian:

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The bubble that turned into a tide: how London got hooked on gentrification

Earlier this month the Financial Times ran an article, as every newspaper has done many times before, headlined “Has London’s property price bubble burst?” The report was well researched and judicious, as you would expect. The conclusion, roughly, was “Probably not, but you never know”, which is all one can ever say safely. The only problem was the word “bubble”. …

It has become an entirely different phenomenon: a ceaselessly rising tide, occasionally drawing back after one wave breaks, but only to regather force for the next, even stronger, surge. This tide has not lifted all boats, but it has lifted a great many: metropolitan middle-class members of the baby-boom generation in particular, but others too. (Some have of course been drowned, but there you go.) …

The outlines of this phenomenon have become so familiar that only rarely does anyone stand back and consider quite how astonishing it all is, and the extent to which the consequences have permeated every aspect of British life.

Three years ago, the London-based American journalist Michael Goldfarb did stand back, for an op-ed column in the New York Times, which went viral, pointing out something that had not then been widely understood: how the most expensive London homes had ceased to be places to live and had become a store of global money. “Almost nothing has changed,” says Goldfarb now, “except that all the stresses in the system have got deeper. It will take an epochal catastrophe – like the great depression followed by a war – to allow ordinary people to get into the housing market. But no one will say this. It will be a London without Londoners.

“The one thing that has changed is that people will now rent rather than buy. But has there been anything done to protect tenants? Nothing. None of that conversation is being had, and it’s shocking.” …

There are also strange sub-phenomena now taking place, designed to keep the mad times rolling. Parents are sinking their profits back into the market to help their children into the game. Well-off baby-boomer provincials are downsizing and moving to London to be near their children. Old houses that were subdivided into flats decades ago are now being undivided again, further reducing the stock of homes. …

Variations on the theme are happening across London. Even a decade ago, transport zones 1 and 2 were full of areas whose very name would make one’s mother faint. (“You’re going to live in Hoxton?!”) Now the respectability-map is being infilled.

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