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Making Sense of Property Market Data

Phi Spencer

By Phil Spencer

It’s hardly surprising that house prices are such a hot topic of conversation.

They’re an essential factor in determining where and how we live, and often sway whether we can choose an owner-occupied or rented property. What’s more, casual conversation may turn into a heated debate if you’re looking to buy or sell a house.

Like many a hot topic, there’s no shortage of information as to the state of the property market, but the clinch comes in trying to make sense of the wealth of data out there. From determining your home value to browsing the various local houses for sale, it’s essential that you’re up to speed when it comes to the property market.

Luckily, we’ve put together tips, hints and tricks to provide you with a guide to making sense of property market data.

Finding the right sources when it comes to property market data

So, where can you find hard data that enables you to make your own conclusions?

Here’s a few that you might find useful…

Land registry

The Land Registry, the official Registers of Scotland and Land and Property Services Northern Ireland, publishes a monthly House Price Index compiled from figures for every house sale recorded. Statistical analysis is computed by the Office of National Statistics.

To understand this data, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t identify the market value of your own property, but rather aggregates all sales recorded by the various land registries in the UK. From these, a national House Price Index (HPI) is generated.

As of September 2017, the HPI stands at 118.72, based on a national average house price of £226,367.

The Land Registry indicates the rate by which house prices have changed in the past month (an increase of 0.4% in September) and during the previous 12 months (an increase of 5.4%).

The Land Registry pages also allow users to customise property data according to a number of filters. These include locations in the UK (down to county level), the dates in which you may be interested, and the type of properties (whether detached house, semi-detached, terraced or flats and maisonettes, for example).

In the illustration below, Land Registry data is used to show the movement in average house prices for semi-detached houses, in Hampshire, over the period November 2007 to November 2017.

At the beginning of the selected interval in November 2007, for instance, the average price of a semi-detached house in Hampshire the UK was £232,373. Following the effects of the financial crisis in 2008, prices then slipped to a low of £188,918, before climbing to the current (September 2017) average price of £313,426:

property market data

Council of mortgage lenders

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) is another reputable database providing essential insight into the housing market.

Its latest statistical report (to August 2017), for example, shows that:

  • a total of £5.7 billion (in 34,400 mortgages) was lent to first-time buyers in August – up 16% from July and up 12% over the preceding 12 months;
  • a total of £8.4 billion (in 38,500 mortgages) was lent to home owners moving house – up 17% on July and up 13% on the previous 12 months;
  • re-mortgages accounted for £6.4 billion (36,700 loans) – down 1% from July but up 5% on the previous 12 months; and
  • buy to let mortgages accounted for £3.1 billion (20,400 loans) – the same as in July but up 4% on the previous 12 months.

The figures for mortgages for home owners may also be shown graphically:

property market data banks and building societies

Banks and building societies

The Building Societies Association (BSA) not only monitors mortgage lending with data that largely echoes that provided by the Council of Mortgage Lenders, but also offers data on:

  • House prices.
  • Property transactions.
  • Housing stock and new construction.
  • Property tracking.

Online property portals

Various online estate agents are also valuable sources of data on the property market.

Perhaps the best known of these include Rightmove, Zoopla and Hometrack. Some online sites will allow you to compare potential asking prices of your own property, ones you wish to buy, or properties recently sold in the same area and street.

Each of these allow for quite detailed searches of property listings (the asking price and not the price for which the property finally sold) in any area or postcode of the UK in which you might be interested.

Rightmove, for example, offers a running commentary based on housing market statistics released by the Land Registry, providing insight into:

  • The average price at which properties of all types were sold.
  • The movement in average prices over previous years.
  • The average prices of different types of property – detached, semi-detached and flats; and a comparison of average prices with other nearby areas.
  • The comparison of average prices against nearby areas.

Commentaries and media coverage

All sections of the media comment upon and interpret property market data, with most publications having at least one property supplement per week. The most reliable reports, of course, always draw their information form the most authoritative data sets and indices.

These offer valuable insights into principal market trends, and provide up-to-date commentary on the overall state of the housing market. For both buyers and sellers alike, they may give some broad indication as to whether prices are rising or falling.

But throughout the data sets and media commentary, there are wide regional variations and differences in house prices from one area to another, one location to another, and even from one street to the next.

Get to know your local area and estate agent

There is no shortage of information about the property market in the UK. There is a wealth of information and research on which you may draw from about negotiating a house price or selling a property.

Although background research is valuable, there is nothing to beat the very local, intimate knowledge of specific areas, streets and individual properties possessed by good standing high street estate agents.

Arm yourself with knowledge and understanding of the wider housing market issues, but before pursuing your plans to buy, you may wish to make full use of the knowledge and professionalism of a local estate agent. 

Looking for more knowledge on a specific property, local areas and services? A property report offers detailed information on everything you need to know, from schools to crime rates. Get your full report here.

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