‘Men don’t pay prostitutes for sex, they pay them to go away” However distasteful this joke, it captures an extreme version of the phenomenon that could be described as post-coital comedown. Men, who moments earlier were in a state of delirious arousal, where they would have done, said and promised anything can become, after sex, certainly sleepy, sometimes distant and even hostile.

Now before you get up on your high horse about the type of man I am, I am simply referring to the well-documented, much misunderstood and scientifically proven (by dozens of academic surveys) observation that humans may do and say things when they are aroused sexually — things that they would never dream of when they are in a calm, collected state of mind.

The power of sex changes our decision-making and makes a mockery of ideas like rationality.

While sex is one of the most powerful passions known to man, other passions can be aroused in us, which means that sometimes, rather than behaving rationally, we can let our emotions take over.

This behaviour flies in the face of the central premise of economics, because modern economics contends that humans are rational and logical.

The evidence from real life, rather than economic theory, is that we can be rational and logical but we can also be hotheaded, shortsighted, giddy and excited. (A fantastic new book called Irrationally Predictable by Dan Ariely explores the economic implications this idea in detail.)

Scientific studies reveal that many of us have a dark side which lust awakens. While we acknowledge its existence, we underestimate the power of passion and the influence it has on us the moment we “lose the head”.

Armed with these observations, let’s consider the property market over the past few years through the prism of lust and the dark side.

In addition, let us look at the future of the property market from the point of view of repentance and morality. The contention in the rest of this article is that the next few years will see an aversion to property, which will be almost moral in tone.

Most markets that suffer boom and bust cycles go through an investor love affair, which is followed by an aversion, which borders on hatred. This is “once bitten, twice shy” for financial markets.

When people realise what they have done in pursuit of greed, they try to repent. They vow to change their behaviour. They acknowledge the dark side and try to move on.

But the dark side is powerful. It’s worth examining again what it does to us in a property boom.When faced with the financial aphrodisiac of profit, many of us behave as many men do moments before sex. We lose the run of ourselves, become possessed by a mania and get carried away.

Ireland became enthralled by the cult of property and like ancient cults a whole new set of rules and regulations prevailed.

The first rule was that economic and financial logic went out the window and was replaced with a superannuated version of “hope value” and a cultish conclusion that we had seen the true light and “this time it was different”.

Such excitement was/is best captured in the property supplement which can best be described as “pornography for the middle classes”. Every kitchen is “spacious”, every bedroom “inviting”, every bathroom “alluring” and every opportunity “unique”.

The stimulated buyer is enticed by suggestive advertising, which promises financial delights. At the height of the boom, when tiny shoeboxes were being bought for ludicrous prices, the market left the realms of normal pornography and began to take on the characteristics of financial fetishism.

Like the fetishist who is bored with the missionary position and needs to spice up his sex life with weirder positions, stranger games and more bizarre demands, the financial fetishist is drawn to take bigger risks, make more outlandish calculations and break all sorts of accounting taboos to satisfy his lust for property and it’s handmaiden, capital gain.

Now that the market is tanking and the extent of our weakness for property porn is being exposed, Ireland is being forced to face up to the choices and weird practices we engaged in when the inferno was at its hottest, when the temptation was greatest and when our behaviour was most questionable. Ireland is now being asked to confront our dark side and account for our full-on embrace of “homoeroticism”.

“Homoeroticism” is a financial state of mind where every financial fetish was indulged in the pursuit of a home.

So no location was too exotic, nor any financial package too ludicrous not to be entertained in pursuit of a home/house/apartment. Homoeroticism is now giving way to a new state of mind called “Homophobia”.

Homophobia describes a repentant period when every investment to do with property and homes will be avoided.

Homophobia — the aversion to any investments in homes or houses — is not new. Amateur students of financial history realise that this happens all the time. The Japanese took 20 years to get over their boom and property prices in Tokyo have not recovered to the levels they were at in 1989.

Another good example was the dot.com crash, when many investors took years to touch technology companies again.

Quite apart from a psychological form of financial probity whereby bad behaviour has to be paid for, homophobia will be supported by the banks that encouraged such financial promiscuity in the first place. Today the banks are tightening credit conditions, calling in loans and admonishing the very people they lent to in the boom.

Far from a bottoming out this year as some “vested interests” are suggesting, the housing market is likely to get far worse due to a combination of post-boom psychology and a dramatic change in the way banks finance property.

We are in a period where cash is king. This will mean that profit or earnings, rather than some speculative value, will increasingly be used as the yardstick to value property.

So using this value, do we have any idea what the average property investment yields? How much money is it making for an investor after tax? These are the types of considerations that will dictate financing during the period of “homophobia”.

Irish house builders are trading at four to eight times their earnings at the moment. If we applied the same ratio to the 200,000 investment properties bought in the past five years, let alone the one in six Irish houses that are empty, how low could the property market go?

Brace yourself for the come down. Brace yourself for homophobia!

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