Guest post: Fresh from a sojourn to UK where he grew up, Chris Matyszczyk considers the latest trend in London home buying--speed-dating via Facebook to find co-buyers for real estate purchases.
When I think of England, I think of poverty.
Poverty of weather, poverty of emotional expression (save for humor and violence) and, now it seems, poverty amongst first-time buyers of real estate.
And where else should the Poor Wannabewealthies turn but to Facebook?
I would like to introduce you to a new Facebook group called sharetobuy.com.
This appears to be an opt-in organization that allows all those self-centered rapacious people who come to London for glamor, glitter and the opportunity to get hammered at exorbitant prices, to get together and pool their resources with a view to getting on the first shaky rung of the property ladder.
Sharetobuy.com says it specializes in arranging mortgages for friends and family "clubbing together."
I forbade my mind to consider the image of wrinkled aunties and their pot-addled nephews doing the Funky Chicken at the local Bungalow for long enough to notice that this service is entirely free.
But then my eye wandered to the concept of Facebook-inspired co-buying events.
This, in essence, is speed-dating with a view to get encumbered with a house rather than a spouse.
The Web site also notes in all caps, YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON YOUR MORTGAGE.
James Cartlidge, a director of sharetobuy.com (how do they make money? mortgage-brokering? huge markups on the beer and potato chips?) told The Observer newspaper: "Buying property with Facebook friends may sound radical, but it's a logical extension of the growing trend towards co-buying, given the pressures first-time buyers face."
When I read this I forbade my mind to consider the image of the flatmate I had when I first moved to London-the one who would use a nail file to pick his nose.
Or the image of the flatmate who-and this was something I was only to discover after two months- believed it was highly ecological to urinate in his cat's water bowl.
When you're renting, divorce can come quickly with little acrimony. Or alimony, for that matter.
But how long does sharetobuy.com suggest you should know someone before you take the purchasing plunge on sharing a plunger?
And what do you do if you succumb to one of the most natural things in the human nature--hate each other?
I scanned their case studies and failed to find a specific example of people who had met through Facebook. Though I did find the prominent Facebook logo with an encouragement to join the sharetobuy.com group.
The road to suburbia, it appears, goes through Zuckerbergia.
Despite my huge sympathy with the fact that young Englanders are now spending more than 20 percent of their monthly income on mortgages (and another 20 percent on booze and psychiatry, no doubt), the only image that invades my eyes is that of a little Beacon pop-up announcing: "Ben, Joe and Aloisius have just mortgaged themselves up with sharetobuy.com to within twenty pence of bankruptcy."
And wondering whether Ben, Joe and Aloisius really did meet at a sharetobuy.com co-buying event at the local pub.
What is truly interesting about Facebook is how much the mutual trust of the membership will create new forms of social behavior. Time will tell whether we will soon see a howcanigetawayfromthesedisgustingpeople.com group.