The first time I flew to San Francisco, I was disturbed to learn en-route that the city was overdue a massive earthquake.
San Francisco apparently sat on a continental fault line. This San Andreas fault hadn’t ruptured for 200 years. I wasn’t sure what ‘ruptured’ meant, exactly, but it didn’t sound promising.
I would be sleeping on top of a pressure cooker!
Of course, once we landed, I forgot about the imminent disaster and got on with enjoying the legendary city. As do millions who call it home.
Twenty years on, San Francisco is yet to be hit by The Big One. A lot of worry over nothing?
Not quite. The tectonic plate shifts that drive earthquakes are more like a game with an inevitable conclusion than a matter of chance. Think Jenga, not dice.
It’s when, not if, as the pressure builds. Eventually it will explode.
The London fault line
Which brings me, of course, to the UK property market – particularly London.
Because living in the capital has felt like dwelling in an earthquake zone for 20 years too.
Not literally. London’s homes are more likely to sink into the clay beneath them than be brought down by a seismic event.
I mean financially. On measures like the ratio of house prices to income, London has looked extended since at least the early 2000s.
Yet life went on, and prices kept climbing. Mini tremors from the sub-prime crisis and Brexit are mere wobbles on a relentlessly rising chart.
What’s more, as fortunes were made in the face of all fears, confidence that UK bricks and mortar was immune to a meaningful price correction spread across the country.
So nowadays, almost all UK residential property seems expensive.
I know this, yet I still own my own home. Like a San Francisco resident, as a UK homeowner you have to get on with