Sensationalised headlines and the truth of a “sales figure collapse”

I read the headline “Shock fall-through figures show almost 50% of sales collapsing” this week and thought, oh no. But as is always the case, the devil is in the detail….

So firstly, let’s examine the detail. The article from Estate Agent Today was based on data from a ‘quick buy’ property company. Granted, the company – YourMoveNow – have monitored fall-throughs for several years so I would assume they have good data sets, and yes, according to their data the fourth quarter for 2018 showed a 49.8% sale fail BUT, and here it is: the annual fall through rate for the total 12 months of 2018 remained steady at 30.6%, which is just 1% higher than the 2017 figure. 1%! There’s no shocking headline there is there?

Secondly, my article about reading beneath the Brexit terror headlines detailed that Medway has the second highest house price growth rate in Kent, with annual growth of 11.5%. And that is true. Medway continues to be an excellent region for investment. The Kent Property Market Report detailed plenty of reasons why this is true and rising house prices is just one. If you believe differently then I’d love to open a discussion and understand your views so please get in touch.

Thirdly, returning to the number of sale transactions completed at the end of 2018, I went back and verified my data to make sure that what I’m telling you is 100% correct. This comes direct from the ONS (Office for National Statistics):

The number of property transactions completed in the UK with value of £40,000 or above

The number of UK property transactions* for December 2018 was 102,330 residential and 11,230 non-residential transactions. This decreased by just 0.1% between November 2018 and December 2018. Importantly, overall, December’s seasonally adjusted figure is 3.6% higher when compared with the same month of the previous year.

These statistics are used to inform our policy makers, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I have faith in their accuracy. And they read quite differently from the headline I started with.

The press seems fixed on the same messages, like “continued political uncertainty….”; yes, we know. Let’s face it, the government’s lack of direction isn’t exactly going to instill confidence in anyone and they aren’t making it easy to keep a cool head when they can’t even agree on a way forward. But the market weathers storms of all sizes. Of course there’s going to be conjecture about the outcome of the this year. Of course many buyers are choosing to wait and see. But in already uncertain times I find it really unfortunate that press headlines need to sensationalise and focus on small negatives when overall, the picture simply isn’t finished.

Investment is about making a calculated risk and in my opinion that’s the key; property investment is not about one month or even one quarter. It should be part of a well considered and well thought out plan that lasts for 1, 2, 5, 10 or however many years you want it to.  

We know this year won’t be plain sailing. Which is why I tend to think that these sensationalised short-window comparison figures are not particularly helpful. This is unchartered territory so we have no benchmark to compare it to. It’s all new – as will be our landscape post Brexit. But it doesn’t necessarily mean the housing market won’t get back on track relatively quickly or possibly even make a soaring recovery. What do you think? Am I alone in thinking that we should remain positive? Let me know…


*ONS provisional seasonally adjusted

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