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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Government's single 'official' house price index to be launched by June

A single definitive ‘official’ government house price index is to be launched by June.

During the summer the Office for National Statistics announced that the results of a consultation process - held between October and December last year - had been processed and that “good progress had been made in a number of areas.” This had prompted hopes that the new index might be launched in the New Year.

However, a more recent announcement by the ONS - at the end of a scheduled release of house price data - reveals that “there have been delays in securing access to the data required to begin test production of the new index.” The office adds: “Work is still progressing.”

In a key part of its statement, the ONS says: “The Development Working Group has also been considering the transition to the new house price index for users. Further details regarding the transition plan will be published in early 2016, and will likely include a number of user events to fully explain the changes ahead of the anticipated first publication of the new index by June 2016.”

Yesterday, the ONS confirmed that despite a further hiccup - concerning Scottish price information - the mid-2016 deadline would still be met.

Disputes over which of the many public- and private-sector house price indices could be considered the most useful have become the stuff of legend within the property industry in recent years.

The ONS has been working for some years with the Land Registry, Land & Property Services Northern Ireland and the Registers of Scotland on achieving a single unified ‘official’ government index for the entire UK.

Back in October 2014 the ONS admitted, in its consultation document over the issue, that the different indices produced by these public sector departments “can sometimes lead to contradictory messages for users who are unfamiliar with the differences in methodology and scope of each measure. This in turn can make decision making difficult based on the house price data available.”

However, the debate over achieving a new unified index has been going on much, much longer.

In December 2010 - precisely five years ago - the National Statistician recommended that ”a single definitive house price index and accompanying statistics should be produced by the official statistics producer community” and should be based on completion prices, should give a UK-wide picture, and be updated monthly. 

There was also a recommendation for the new index to be accompanied by a clear explanation of the methods used to construct the statistics, a commentary about its results, and be easy to find and download online. 

This is - in theory - what is going to be unveiled by June.

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    Well we'll see what happens. Can't really see this making much of a difference as there are so many 'private' ones... RM, Halifax, Nationwide, Home, Hometrack etc. etc.

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    well it should make a difference, massively.

    RM only use advertised priced. Plus some properties advertised with more than one agent.
    HALIFAX only use their own mortgage offers and ignore a massive part of the market they dont know about
    NATIONWIDE - see Halifax above - only even worse
    HOMETRACK - is based on agents and surveyors ''survey'' - whatever that means

    A single consolidated ''actual sales figure'' report would give some sense of order to the competing and confusing array of ''PR'' reports we have to suffer currently.

    Not sure how relevant ''a UK-Wide' report would be however, I hope such report also includes regions etc., That would help us all focus on our own markets ad opposed to getting distracted by the rest of the noise.

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    What I meant Rob is that I can't see this stopping all the others being reported in the press so the issue of all this different and often irrelevant data being put out into the public domain will remain...

  • Rob  Davies

    I think it's quite a good idea. A single, independent, PR-free House Price Index sounds good to me. We might no longer get a hundred different variations from Halifax, Nationwide, RM, Hometrac, Home, etc, all telling us something different.

    But I do agree with Paul Davey above. A single definitive official government house price index isn't going to stop those above from releasing data, so the waters will still be muddied and house price data will continue to be as muddled and confused as it is now.

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    Paul D and Rob D you are right - but the industry must learn to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    The plethora of monthly PR reports (Halifax/Nationwide and the rest) should be taken for what they are, small samples of the specific market they are in (such as mortgage offers for their clients).

    Hopefully as people begin to appreciate the real value of all these reports, some will rise to the top as being 'the most credible ones'' - perhaps that's wishful thinking!

  • Algarve  Investor

    I agree with the general sentiment that it's a good idea. Maybe, once it's been going for a few years and has developed a reputation as the go-to source for house price data, the competition will begin to fall away. There are too many different Indexes and reports as things stand - and, as Rob Davies points out above, they all have varying results anyway - so it would be nice if there was one central place where this data could be compiled, free from bias or agenda or political engineering.

  • DAVID PERRIN

    If its to be the 'definitive, go to' index that is credible, reliable and trustworthy then it may replace some, possibly all of the others which would be a good thing. Like all information, its true value comes from how it is used. If the Land Registry could update their own data in a more timely fashion rather than the current 3 month lag that would be a great start.

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