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Keep it real for price statistics

The mortgage industry should not focus on year-on-year figures or seasonally adjusted prices in house price indexes, says John Charcol senior technical manager Ray Boulger.

He said that the media focus on year-on-year figures is unhelpful as what happened six to 12 months ago is irrelevant now. Boulger said: “Although house price inflation has not slowed down that much in the year-on-year basis, I do not think that is a sensible way to look at it for the moment.

“What you really want to know is what is happening today. Take this time of the year with the compiling of this season’s adjusted indices, we will assume that September and October are normally good months so they will reduce the real figures to affect that. But actually the real figures will be relatively weak because of what is happening in the market. I think season facts are not very relevant. Interest rates, in particular, are far more relevant.”

Boulger said he would rather see reported real figures so he can make his own adjustment about what is important and what is seasonable about it.

He points out that it would be more helpful if two things happened in the house price indexes. First, if more focus were made on rolling three months and second, more focus on real prices rather than seasonally adjusted prices.

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