Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.

As the Easter Bunny limbers up for his annual exertions with a few zumba sessions and holding back on the Jagermeister during the week, the season of publishing reports awakes from its 10 months of slumber where no one really gives a hot cross bun about figures and their interpretations.  Cheshire & Co have a somewhat dim view of surveys, but would like to think that a report does occasionally contain something pertaining to the truth.  Alas, this week’s editions show that the ‘truth is out there’, sort of; but how it is collected, assimilated, interpreted and then presented to the unsuspecting public is as varied as the ‘medications’ being taken for all manner of genuine heath reasons by members of the World Tennis Association Tour…

In the past seven days, Halifax have reported that house prices in the UK rose in 2015 by 9.5% (compare that to the rise in wage inflation), yet Nationwide report that house prices during the same period only went up 4.5%.  The Office of National Statistics says the average house price increase in the UK was 6.7%, but for those people living in Blaenavon it was only 1%.  Unlucky.  Halifax also said that house prices increased by more than the average worker’s annual earnings in more than a quarter of local authority districts in the UK in just two years.  Firstly, that is an awful lot of data inputted to give one average figure and secondly, it is more than a few mores and how is ‘more’ quantified?  Having thought about this for a minute, I realised that actually, this is just a reflection of the UK demographic and actually means b”£&*er all.  If you live in SW1 and earn your monthly wage as a hedge fund manager, your house will increase in value by a considerable amount.  If you work as say, the Prime Minister on £163,000 per annum and own a property with £2.5 million, then it is easy to se that over two years your house will have increased in value by more than your salary.  If you live in Blaenavon, a 1% increase on a house valued at £90,000 would come nowhere near the wages of someone on the minimum wage.  One does have to wonder what the reporting of the said reports actually means and what relevance they have to the general populace.  I think that I can safely report, ‘not alot’.

The one that did hold my attention was that of the accountancy firm Moore Stephens that published that in in 2015, 285 estate agents went bust in the UK and that their findings showed that this was due to independent firms being squeezed out by large corporates and new online companies charging vendors far less than their high street office based counterparts.  In fact the likes of Connells and Countrywide are not squeezing out agents, they are actually buying up medium sized agents.  The big boys are not interested in selling houses, but have their eyes firmly fixed on the data capture that acquiring smaller agents brings.  The information on buyers, sellers, landlords, tenants, pet budgies etc allows them to sell more products and services.  Remember that emails cost nothing and once they have this data, they have it forever.