Statistics… and what people want you to believe…

Human nature dictates that we all have a tendency to believe what we want to hear.  This is especially true when it comes to estate agents.  A report published last week by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors states that the housing market is, ” over the very worst”.  Does this mean their worst, the worst in the worst part of the country, or the worst ever, anywhere?  When delving further into the report, we see that the number of estate agents who predict sales to increase in the next 3 months is up by 24%.  How many were polled: 10, 100, or a 1000? And to what are they making the comparison and when?  So let us deal with the facts. House prices last year fell on average across the UK by 1%.  So all elements would agree that an element of stability has returned; but no element of confidence has accompanied this.  For those of us old enough to remember, there was a booming market when interests rates were 16% but there were no concerns about job losses, economies faltering and fiscal cliffs.  What we can draw from the latest figures is that even though there is still the mentality of “I’ll nick this” when purchasing a house, after allowing the usual posturing and games to be played, we usually arrive at a sensible conclusion that benefits all parties.  Whilst we do not expect a boom in prices over the coming months, the days of the desparate seller who is forced to sell at any price, are disappearing.  If somebody does feel the need to have published figures to hand to boost their confidence, they would be better to focus on the Council of Mortgage Lenders who also last week made an announcement as to activity in the property market.  They reported that the amount of loans handed out to first time buyers in the last quarter of 2012 was up 26% from the corresponding quarter in 2011 and was up over 20% from the preceding quarter.  Although they did not state the exact number of loans approved, a percentage figure increase is at least a tangible amount backed up by the actual loans having been received.  It is historic – it actually happened – as opposed to a straw poll of predictions that may never actually come to pass.