Did anyone notice? Taking June as an example, the ONS UKHPI release for the month showed average house prices of £247,000 for England and £164,000 for Wales. By contrast the July LSL Acadata HPI average for England &Wales was £300,886. This is a significant difference but it doesn’t seem to prompt much debate even amongst the media who follow house prices closely. Indeed month on month we have indices reporting on a divergent basis yet aside from Acadata little attention is given to this variability.
We know why the different indices vary – some are based on mortgaged homes only, others on cash purchases as well as mortgages. Then we have the price of actual homes or data constructs around a so called “average house”. These are complex technical issues. The media reporting on price trends do need to be clear about the basis for their chosen commentary and the readers need to bear in mind the differences when absorbing the material. Of course in reality as consumers our focus is on a very granular level – what is happening in a chosen locality – and none of the indices get that close! So it is all about general trends and as a guide to actions. The detail probably gets lost in the wash?