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Housing Woes Across The Pond

Here in Britain, we used to have a fairy tale of a housing market. Every building we touched turned to gold. Well, if not gold, then piles of cash. But then came along a big bad wolf - with an American accent as it happens, and blew all of our profits down.

As with everything else, what goes on stateside eventually ends up over here. Only on this occasion, the credit crunch has come crashing in on our properties almost instantaneously. For the first time in a decade, we are finding that the foundations of our wealth are built on dodgy ground.

You will have heard the old saying that 'An Englishman's home is his castle' and it's true -- we have a unique relationship with our houses. They are our homes, and they were a means to funding our retirements.

Now though, they are becoming financial prisons. Britain's housing market has pretty much ground to a halt as we all hold our breath and pray this crisis passes quickly.

The banks are not behaving well either. With their eyes on the hideous profits they insist on making, they have suddenly become money grabbing and tight fisted. They have already had their begging bowls out to our central bank - The Bank of England - and been given billions of dollars of relief and support. But this does not seem to have made them any more willing to help us out. So they have taken this cash, stashed it in their coffers and then turned to us for some extra funds on top.

The general consensus is that they are profiteering from our fear and pain. The interest rate in your country now rests at 2% - your financial leaders seeing the necessity to help you out. Our interest rate is still more than double yours, and even then our banks are not sharing the relief they are getting. They are protecting themselves and their shareholders at the cost of some families losing their most prized possession - their home.

Us homeowners are not without blame though. We have become complacent and greedy, talking up our profits and patting ourselves on the back for sound investments. But the real cash hungry little pigs in this nightmare are the banks, with their snouts firmly in the money trough.
By Petrie Hosken