Thursday, February 05, 2009

More Housepriceballs

Today the BBC reassuringly reports: House prices 'up 1.9% in January'. A misleading headline but one which will be seized on by some, eager for evidence of elusive 'green shoots of recovery'. It's nothing of the sort, just part of the 'feel good factor' spin.

Another day and another fresh house price survey, each often contradicting the last.

According to the Halifax, "The price of UK homes rose by 1.9% in January, ending a run of 11 monthly falls", but closer scrutiny shows house prices falling annually by 17.2%.

The data is a snapshot, based on mortgage approvals and, like the government's own survey and those by the Nationwide, it is based only on property sales financed by mortgage lending, ignoring cash sales.

The survey is just that and only applies to those lucky enough to get a mortgage approved and in times of tight mortgages those are few and far between. 

The housing survey also ignores speculators with a huge wad of cash take advantage of auction house repossession at knock-down prices. 

The figures are often very similar, as they are based on a price agreed after a survey by mortgage customers. So that "price" is based on both customers and estate agents who have a vested interest to try for the highest price they think the market will take. 

They are surveys and not the actual sum paid out when the deal is finally signed, sealed and delivered.

Nevertheless last week, a similar survey by Nationwide suggested prices fell by 1.3% in January.

Brown's false boom years created a lot of false economics and no more so than in the trends in house prices. 

For years what you thought your house was worth and how its price would rise, was tied to how house prices compared against earnings but that was abandoned in the bubble of the boom. 

That prices to wages ratio was so last year in this new world of cheap borrowing and live now pay for the debt later.

Easy borrowing enticed by low interest rates meant repayments were quite low for the first couple of years and so it seemed house prices would continue to boom or at least hold up on price. Prices would keep on rising forever and the false sense of home security was born.  

Now back in fashion, that most basic measure of what will happen to house prices, the house price to earnings ratio, paints a gloomy picture. 

Some have suggest prices may fall a total of 50% and prices must fall at least 40% from the peak of October 2007, according to a detailed analysis in thisismoney. And that takes prices back to early 2002. 

The housing market cannot and will not improve until credit restrictions are eased so more people take out mortgages and the economy stops shrinking. 

With continuing pressures on incomes and rising unemployment that will take a very long time, as the country slips from a downturn to a recession and into Brown's 'depression'

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would also suspect that the volume of approvals is down, resulting in a disprotionate skewing effect on the figures, giving the impression of "green shoots" - which we all know is complete pants. Why would prices be going up when job security is falling?