Conflicting data agrees on one thing

Nia Williams

February 26, 2010

Commenting on the latest Land Registry and Nationwide figures both published today RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said: “Data released this morning by the Land Registry confirms that house prices did rise sharply in January. This firm picture had been signalled in previous releases by both mortgage lenders and the RICS Housing Market Survey. However, the Nationwide Building Society numbers for February, also published this morning, cast some doubt on whether this trend can be sustained

“While bad weather may have played a role in knocking both activity and prices this month, RICS believes that there shouldn’t be too much emphasis placed on monthly volatility in the numbers. The underlying trend in the Nationwide data is still pointing toward an annualised increase in prices of more than 6%. That this is down from nearer 15% last autumn is something to be welcomed given the difficulty many first time buyers are already having in getting a foot on the property ladder.

“Interestingly, the Land Registry data continues to highlight significant regional variations in price performance with London very much at the top end. Indeed, following the rise of 3.9% in January prices in the capital are now just 5% away from the 2007 peak. By way of contrast, the North East was the English region seeing the biggest fall in prices in January; in this area prices are 15% away from the high water mark. RICS expect prices in general to continue to edge upwards over the coming months although the picture is likely to stabilise in the latter part of the year as mortgage costs begin to increase.”

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