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August is a tricky time to comment on the property market. The market is usually understandably subdued during prime holiday season, but this is often a self-fulfilling prophesy.
This is because those sellers who would have liked to have entered the market during the summer delay doing so, in the belief that the hottest spring buyers have probably found somewhere by now, or are on holiday.
I am engaged in a never-ending struggle with my inbox, receiving over 100 emails a day. Staying on top of them is like clearing the Augean stables. Of those, many contain the term “house prices”. The first one is something like: how much a new Waitrose can add to the value of my home. The second is commentary about the various house price indices released each month. The most obvious comment to make about these indices is that they are all statistically flawed. Some measure only sentiment, not actual transaction prices. Some measure only property bought with a mortgage from a particular lender. There are geographic biases. And they all suffer from the fact that every property is different; it is not an asset class that lends itself to indexation. But nobody ever says that. Instead, there are various explanations as to why prices are either not going up, or going up more in some places than others.
As you look through the pages of most local property newspapers and magazines, all you generally see are pictures of properties. As you turn from page to page the only discernable difference between estate agents is their corporate colour scheme, which does not tell you a great deal about who they are, what they stand for, or what it would be like to work with them.