The government’s statistics boffins have given the Land Registry’s house price index an official stamp of approval and made it a ‘national statistic’ alongside nearly 900 other official sources of information.
Office of National Statistics officials have been working with the three Land Registries in England, Wales and Scotland to examine the accuracy of their property sales data, and now say it meets the “highest standards of trustworthiness, quality and value as defined in the Code of Practice for Statistics
Its data includes sales volumes, average prices by property type and cash/mortgage sales but, as the Land Registry is keen to suggest in its official communication, it records ‘sold’ data rather than the asking prices that Rightmove and other organisations publish.
The Halifax and Nationwide house price indexes, which are widely reported in the media as if they were national figures but only account for 8% and 20% of house sales, include their own customers’ sold price data and, particularly in the case of the Nationwide, are regionally biased.
Also the UK’s dozen or so national ‘average house price’ indexes vary hugely. Rightmove currently says it’s £304,061, Halifax £229,968 and the Nationwide £214,745. Other monthly indexes include RICS, which is a sentiment survey of its members and ZPG’s Hometrack, which zooms in on cities. LSL also publishes a monthly index produced by Acadata which has been running for 15 years and consider itself to be more timely than the government’s own index.
And, the Land Registry points out, unlike these commercial organisations, its data is used by The Bank of England, the Treasury and other government departments to help form policy decisions.
The current official house price index was set up as an experimental report in 2016 to provide a more accurate snapshot of house prices.