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How to decipher house price trackers

Home sellers and buyers could be forgiven for being confused over conflicting reports on property prices.

With a variety of trackers all offering different and often contradictory evidence of whether prices are going up or down, it’s easy to be perplexed by prices.

Different strokes for different folks

Which? recently offered a breakdown on the most popular monthly price indices that are published in the UK, including those produced from Office for National Statistics (ONS) data, mortgage lenders and estate agent listings sites.

The consumer champion noted that each of the house price indices uses different datasets, methodologies and sample sizes to produce their average UK property price.

For example, the ONS index is based only on confirmed house sales in all constituent parts of the UK, while both the Halifax and Nationwide base theirs on mortgage approvals.

Data often historic

Rightmove, arguably the UK’s biggest property portal, only produces asking price data based on its listings in England and Wales.

The differences in those bases means both sellers and buyers should be wary of taking the data at face value, particularly because the ONS data is historic and won’t reflect how house prices are now performing.

That means doing more homework on both asking and sold prices locally from other sources, with estate agents best placed to reveal how much property is fetching.

Read more on Which? about the house price indices and how you can interpret and understand the data.

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