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September 20, 2016

Property bargain of the week: own Harry Potter's house

By Jonn Elledge

Well, this one’s basically a steal. Popular commuter town, full of the right sort of people. Comfortably spacious drive. Easy access to London, via rail, motorway, or fireplace. 

And, while the ad says three-bedrooms, you could easily throw a couple of sheets into the cupboard under the stairs and call it four.

Yes, number 4, Privet Drive – the house featured in the Harry Potter films as the childhood home of everyone’s favourite boy wizard – is up for sale. In reality, it’s a three-bed detached property in the fabulously named Martins Heron area of the Berkshire commuter town Bracknell:

“Due to high demand”. They must know that they’re going to get a lot of time wasters.

A terrible confession: I looked at this ad and genuinely thought to myself, “Oh, that’s not that expensive”. I’ve been living in London too long: it’s nearly half a million quid. For a cramped-looking brick box in suburbia.

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To buy that as a first-time-buyer, you’d need around £50k in the bank and a household income of nearly £100k. It is, in fact, that expensive. It’s really, really expensive.

And this, remember, is not for anything old and cool or aspirational. It’s for a house that was chosen specifically to be a symbol of suburban mediocrity. It’s for a house that some Hollywood location scout somewhere looked at and thought, “Now this is the sort of place where a family of child-abusing bullies would live”. It’s a house chosen specifically because it looks like exactly the sort of place that people would want to run away from.

And there’s a fairly good chance you will never be able to afford it, because it costs £475,000.

Oh, well, in Harry Potter they don’t have a housing crisis, do they? In Harry Potter, finding somewhere to live is easy. All the tents double as luxury countryside cottages. Being able to apparate means you don’t need to worry about access to the major commuter railway lines – you can live on an isolated island off the coast of Cornwall, and still make it to work on time every morning.

But you don’t live in Harry Potter, do you? Because Harry Potter isn’t even real. And even though this is the most miserably, depressingly ordinary-looking house you have ever seen, you will never, ever be able to afford it. You poor, pathetic muggle.

Incidentally, while we’re here, there’s something about Harry Potter that’s been bugging me for years. To get to Little Whinging, the Surrey suburb where Harry lives with the Dursleys, you take the train from Paddington. (Seriously, this happens in book one.) Yet there isn’t anywhere in Surrey that’s served by trains from Paddington: for Surrey, you want Waterloo, or possibly Victoria.

Those books just aren’t bloody realistic, that’s their problem.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @jonnelledge.

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