Council tax and utility bills combined will cost the aver-age home-buyer more than his mortgage interest this year.
This astonishing statement came yesterday from Martin Ellis, the top economist at Halifax.
It doesn't fit with personal experience. I count myself lucky if ever I have a year when builders' bills are not my biggest housing cost.
Just now, I am asking plumbers to quote for replacing leaking valves on my radiators.
That entails draining the central heating system at the outset, filling it up afterwards, then fiddling around with the result until it works as intended.
The cost looks like being almost exactly the same as my newly inflated gas and electricity bills together.
Something else is sure to crop up before the year is out that will come to more than the water.
As to council tax, yes, it is exorbitant - but even now this year's levy is little more than a quarter of the cost of repainting the outside of the place every four years.
I can suppose only that Mr Ellis's home-buyers don't share my aversion to and ineptitude at do-it-yourself and are more hard-nosed negotiating with builders.
Still, he is better placed than most of us to know. And, though he doesn't say how he worked it out, he is remarkably precise about his conclusion. Utility bills and council tax, he calculates, now represent 35 to 36 per cent of all housing costs.
Mr Ellis blames this new pressure on householders' spending power for the 0.7 per cent dip in retail sales last winter and predicts that it should check this year's new burst of house price inflation. You could argue almost as plausibly, that if mortgage interest has ceased to be the biggest item in the cost of owning a home it is no longer the main factor when an individual, decides how much he can afford to pay for a home of his own.
House for house, tenants pay the same utility bills and council tax as home-buyers - so they have no bearing on the decision to buy or not to buy.
Affordability is more a matter of the trade-off between mortgages and rents - offset, if anybody thinks of it, by the builders' bills the landlord picks up - than the proportion of a buyers' income absorbed by the interest.
Then there is the way house-price inflation feeds itself. The psychological factor is notorious. A tenant who sees house prices rising feels he is missing out and under pressure to get on "the ladder" regardless.
Money paid in rent is "wasted", while mortgage payments are an investment. Nobody mentions that it takes several years before you start paying off much of the capital on a conventional repayment mortgage.
There is another self-feeding mechanism that took hold in the last housing boom. Parents and grandparents became able as well as willing to remortgage their homes and use some of the inflated value to provide the next generation with a first-time deposit.
It all adds up to pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates sooner than it would in a better ordered world.