The monthly index of house price changes in Britain’s major cities, for many years operated under the Hometrack banner, has been rebranded as from Zoopla.
This is the latest in a recent series of changes made to emphasise the Zoopla brand as the portal firm evolves under its new US owner, private equity firm Silver Lake.
Hometrack - which is chiefly a provider of automated property valuations and market stats to mortgage lenders, government agencies and property professionals - was bought by ZPG in February 2017 for £120m. Until now its monthly index has been released under its own name but the latest edition, out today, is now labelled as Zoopla.
Zoopla is trialling a new Property Valuation Report using Hometrack data, with an initial nine locations for the trial likely to be extended to over 80. The reports are likely to be rolled out UK-wide later this year to Zoopla agents and private customers.
In the past three months there have been major management changes with the departure of, amongst others, ZPG’s chief strategy officer, chief product officer, chief technology officer, director of communications and data services director.
Non-property advertising has been removed from Zoopla portal property listings, has scrapped its rental listings on Facebook Marketplace - allegedly after complaints from letting agents - and has beefed up its marketing and TV advertising.
In branding terms, ‘ZPG’ has almost entirely disappeared with most agent-facing and consumer-facing branding for the portal and associated services now returning to ‘Zoopla’.
Meanwhile the latest Cities index produced by Zoopla using its Hometrack data is out this morning and says the fastest growth in the 2018 calendar year was seen in Edinburgh, where prices rose 6.8 per cent. Then came Liverpool on 6.3 per cent.
House price growth across the 20 UK cities analysed has reduced steadily across 2018 and currently stands at an average of 2.7 per cent when comparing December 2018 with December 2017.
London has dropped 0.2 per cent and Cambridge is down 3.8 per cent.
Zoopla’s latest UK cities index shows a clear North / South divide when it comes to house price growth. The 13 cities in its ‘20 cities index’ posting the highest growth are all located in the North, Scotland, the Midlands or Wales (Bristol in the South West is the exception).
Other than Aberdeen, where the housing market has suffered due to oil prices, the ‘bottom seven’ cities are all in the South or East of England.
“Weaker growth in London, Cambridge and Aberdeen has been a large drag on the headline rate of house price growth across the UK cities index over the last year. House prices in London have been falling for almost 12 months while the rate of growth has slowed across cities in southern England, a result of growing affordability pressures, higher transaction costs and increased uncertainty” according to Richard Donnell, research and insight director at Zoopla.
“The strongest performing cities are outside south eastern England where affordability remains attractive and employment levels are rising. We expect current trends in price growth to continue across the rest of this year, with prices rising in line with earnings for much of the UK but lower growth and some house prices falls in London and the South.
“London will continue to register price falls, concentrated in inner London where prices have grown the most over the last decade. Prices continue to increase slowly in the more affordable outer and commuter areas of London.”