House price indices
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The major house price indices are remaining resolute in publishing their monthly figures despite the property market being on lockdown.

The accuracy of house price indices are questioned at the best of times and now with limits on valuations, completions and lenders busy with requests for payment holidays, it is hard to see how an accurate picture can be provided.

Residential market analyst Neal Hudson has suggested indices could be suspended

He said in a market outlook: “The very low levels of transactions we should expect over coming months will make it difficult to measure house prices accurately, so we might expect the temporary suspension of some house price indices.

“There is the additional challenge that any transactions during the affected period will not be representative, reflecting unique circumstances bringing buyers and sellers to transact.

“We could, if data is still published, see some substantial price falls (10% or more) reflecting the stressed position of any sellers and the risk appetite of the buyers active during this period.

“However, these transactions would not necessarily be representative of pricing when activity recover.”

So far, only conveyancing and removals comparison website Reallymoving has said it will stop its regular house price reports that are based on quotes requests it receives.

The website said in a statement: “In light of the current lockdown and the impact on the housing market, Reallymoving has taken the decision to temporarily pause its monthly house price forecast.

“The analysis is based on the assumption of a typical 12-week delay between an offer being agreed, at which point the buyer/seller comes to reallymoving for a conveyancing quote, and completion.

“This gives us an insight into likely completed sale values three months ahead of the publication of Land Registry Price Paid data and the forecast has historically tracked the Land Registry very closely.

“However, with the vast majority of transactions now frozen, this assumption can no longer be relied upon.

“With the length of the lockdown remaining uncertain, it is currently impossible to predict when sales agreed will complete.

“In addition, a proportion of deals already agreed are likely to involve price renegotiations or collapse.”

Other providers have indicated to EYE that they will carry on.

A spokesman for Nationwide, which has produced an index since the 1950s, said: “There are no plans to change how we issue our index at present.

“However, the index, as with any other, depends on activity in the housing market being maintained at some level.

“We could continue producing the house price index based on a fraction of the levels of approvals recorded in recent quarters.

“Activity is expected to fall sharply in the weeks ahead and we will continue to monitor developments closely.”

Halifax declined to comment but said in its index earlier this month that it continued to monitor the market and believed activity will fall, making calculating average prices more challenging.

Zoopla’s UK Cities House Price Index is also still due to be released.

Richard Donnell, research and insight director at Zoopla, said: “There has effectively been a 90% drop in sales agreed in the past month

“There is still a wide pool of data for indices to draw on such as valuations and remortgages.

“It is acceptable to incorporate that data if it is representative and used properly.”

A spokesman for Rightmove said the portal was still planning to release its asking price index.

The Land Registry said it also still plans to publish its house price data.

By MARC SHOFFMAN

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