The Confusion of Multiple House Price Indexes

Nov 17, 2014

Rightmove published their latest house price index (HPI) today and it shows a reduction in prices for November versus October.

Whilst the typical UK home is now priced at £267,000, according to the leading portal site, their research should be noted with caution. And that’s because Rightmove only publish data based on ASKING prices and not SOLD prices. There’s a huge difference between the two as, clearly, one figure is what a seller wants and the other is what buyers are actually willing to pay and in a softening market this gap can become ever wider.

Herein lies an issue… Each month a number of house price indexes are published and they often say different things. Here is a run down of the most recent national releases:

Halifax Monthly Change -0.4% Annual Change + 8.8% House Price £186,135

Nationwide Monthly Change +0.5% Annual Change + 9.0% House Price £189,333

ONS Monthly Change +0.6% Annual Change +11.7% House Price £274,000

HM Land Reg Monthly Change -0.2% Annual Change + 7.2% House Price £177,299

Hometrack Monthly Change 0.00% Annual Change + 5.0% House Price N/A

Rightmove Monthly Change -1.7% Annual Change +8.5% House Price £267,127

As you can see, there’s a pretty big difference in the analysis of each and indeed some indexes saying that monthly house prices continue to rise whilst others state that they are falling. Not to mention the £90,000 difference in average price as published by Rightmove vs HM Land Registry.

Some of the anomaly can be explained by the fact that, for instance, Rightmove scrutinise asking prices rather than sake prices as the others do. And it can be partly explained by timing differences where for instance the Halifax and Nationwide numbers are collated from fresh mortgage applications each month whereas HM Land Registry assesses price based on legal completion which will be several months later in the sale cycle.

To make sense of this, the emoov number crunchers have aggregated the six different sets of research into one. So here’s how the UK property market looks on that basis:

Monthly change November vs October: -0.2%

Annual change to November: +8.4%

Average UK house price: £218,779

Trust us to make sense of things.