Headline Happy - or Hapless?

Is it just me or did last week give us just about the most confusing set of property related headlines the country has seen yet?

On Wednesday we heard that the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) thought that property prices were falling – pointing to a double dip recession. On Thursday however the Bank of England predicted that the UK’s economy would grow somewhere between 2.5% and 3% next year – ahead of the Office for Budget Responsibility’s Guestimations which had suggested a 2.3% rise.
Clearly Thursday was a busy news day as the Council of Mortgage Lenders also grabbed economic headlines by announcing that their predictions of 53000 people having their homes repossessed this year was a little off track  - and the final figure would in the end be closer to 39000.

They also said that mortgage lending would end the year at roughly the same level as 2009 – at the same time as (confusingly) saying that mortgage lending on house purchases had actually risen sharply in June reaching its highest level since November 2009 a time when house prices appeared to be rising strongly.  Yesthe same month that RICS reported falling house prices.
Sowhat is going on here?  Let me tell you.  Pessimists: 1 Optimists: 4.
In short the nation is emerging from a truly terrible recession.  Life won’t be a bed of roses.  Sometimes headlines will be glum other times headlines will be glee.  You can’t read any report in isolation.  You have to look at the sum of the whole which is what I am doing here.
In compiling their conclusions RICS asked 242 surveyors to round up what they thought house prices had been doing over the past few months. A few more said falling than rising so the media went into overdrive.  Before you could say Cornflakes please BBC breakfast had whipped itself up into a double dip frenzy – again.
Over the following 24 hours no less than four other news reports had given the country every reason to keep smiling – but they were still nervous smiles thanks to Wednesday’s RICS report.
We are at the coal face when it comes to house selling and let us tell you this – we can still find a reason to smile in the morning.  You see despite the headline highs (and lows) we have maintained our sales rate throughout 2010. 

Interest rates remain at an historical low (and are set to stay this way for the foreseeable); house prices are climbing but remain affordable – compared to days gone by and days still to come.  Unemployment is falling and confidence is rising.
So another 1 for the Optimists – and this time from Britain’s largest privately owned-housebuilder and Scottish (and First Time Buyer) “Housebuilder of the Year” 2010.

Sue Warwick - National Sales & Marketing Director Miller Homes