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Homeowner Advice

Property expert: why you shouldn’t always trust the data on house price forecasts

HOUSE PRICE forecasts should never be the sole basis for making a decision about whether the time is right to buy or sell, a leading property expert has warned.

Jonathan Rolande, the founder of House Buy Fast, said too much attention is often paid on monthly forecasts – rather than the bigger picture.

He said: “Anyone who owns a property or who is looking to buy should remember a house has a number of values. You must consider what it will cost to replace, what it will cost to buy and most importantly, what it is worth to you, as a buyer. Everyone likes the idea of bagging a bargain but in the end we tend to buy a home when it is right for us. The market will therefore rise and fall irrespective.

“I wouldn’t say that forecasts and house price figures should be ignored. But, equally they should not be the sole basis for making a decision. Take them into account, along with local advice from friends and anyone you know ‘in the trade’, observe activity on property portals and the speed of for sale boards being changed to ‘Sold’ as well as analysis on news websites that look at global trends and events.”

Outlining why house price forecasts alone aren’t a good way to make a decision he continued: “Part of the reason for contradictory forecasts is the data they are looking at. It is important to look at not just what is being said, but who is saying it and about what. Some forecasts measure sold prices that are a few months out of date. Others measure asking prices. Some measure buyer, seller or estate agent sentiment.

“What’s more – they could all be wrong. We only need to look at the effects, both short and long-term, of Brexit, the pandemic or the Russian invasion of Ukraine to see that almost unforeseeable events can radically change the economy and derail even the most sensible predictions.

“Those looking at prices should also remember seasonal changes too. The market has natural ups and downs irrespective of anything else. August is generally quiet, and December sees a rush to complete existing sales with fewer new deals agreed.

It is also important to remember that nobody knows for sure, it is impossible to predict the market with certainty. And many who do, have a reason for doing so. Very often a positive spin is put on to decidedly average figures to suit the company releasing them.

“Bear in mind that they can also self-fulfill their prophecies. If a large number of reports are published that predict price rises in the near future, people will be prompted to buy now, to avoid the rush meaning prices will indeed rise.”