Rightmove need to understand how damaging lazy statistics are

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 by Ed Mead

 

Anyone reading Twitter will have gathered I’m angry. Angry about how Rightmove have trumpeted some absurd statistics that are seriously damaging the property market.

 

Statistics feed the machine that comments on the market, indeed such stats have bred an entire species of commentator, so ignoring what is fed to them can have serious long term consequences.

 

The sensationalist element in any stat is the one that ends up being used, of course, but when someone in a position of responsibility turns round and says that asking prices have gone up by over 10% in one month, and then allows such a stat to be used as “house prices have gone up 10% in a month” they should surely be looking askance at it. To then follow it up with a senior director’s comment, quoting some brash agent, claiming “the cupboard is bare” simply exacerbates the problem (It’s more likely to be because no one is selling by the way, but Rightmove wouldn’t want to be saying that now would they). No responsibility at all, and they ONLY exist because we pay them.

 

So let’s examine what the Rightmove stats are…….simply a measure of asking prices in a defined area over the preceding month. What does that tell us, simply an average of those who’ve decided to go to the market this month, nothing more nothing less, not REAL sold prices, not valuing a basket or typical properties, just a cheap easy press of a button. In an area like central London you have almost twice as many agents chasing c. half the property that was on the market six years ago so it’s not surprising asking prices have overshot.

 

If the people at Rightmove actually bothered to canvass the agents they serve they might have found that out for themselves.

 

If arrogance won’t allow them to do this they should try looking round the world and checking what newspapers say. I had an email from a client in Australia, with an already stretched asking price on their house in Chelsea, with this in it “Rightmove reported house prices in London jumped 10.2% in October – that’s right in just one month! Agents in inner London reported a “buying frenzy” reduced the available stock to nearly nothing.” They were surprised by how difficult we were finding the market.

 

This is just the sort of thing that reporting like theirs causes and to simply ignore it is a travesty. If Rightmove won’t start to try and help the agents they serve bring on Agents’ Mutual.