House Prices Up, House Prices Down – Its So Confusing

Published: 4 June 2010 By Chris RayFollow me on Twitter Leave a Comment

Yesterday we reported that house prices rose in May. Today we report that house prices fell in May. Whats happening?

Two well respected house price indices – one from the Nationwide Building Society and the other from the Halifax – paint different pictures of the current state of the property market.

Which one is correct? Are house prices actually rising at the moment or are they falling?

Confusingly, both views are probably correct as the property market flattens out and loses directional trend. As the market moves sideways, it’s bound to give different signals to different monitors, particularly when you consider how prices are performing in different regions and in the various segments of the market.

This is the problem. These indices are all based on averages, which are great for assessing trends i.e. the average house price is 10% higher than the average price last year so the trend in the property market is up.

But when you try and sell your property, those nice averages slip away and you are faced with the local dynamics of the market. Is yours a sought after house in a sought after area or are there several on the market in your price range, condition and locality?

In my area I see some houses have sold, but the majority are hanging around. I’ve mentioned it before, but if there is one thing that does seem different at the moment and that is the number of houses that find buyers, but then become available again, seems to be increasing.

Its kind of a churn in the market. There is activity, but no clear direction.

The property market seems to be biding its time before either going up from here, or slipping back down. The indices are not clear on this at the moment, but time will tell!

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