The latest swathe of housing data continues to suggest a pick up both in prices and activity and the RICS November house price survey, released today, adds further weight to the case for a housing recovery.
Its measures for sales, expected sales, new inquiries, new instructions, prices and expected prices are all in soundly positive territory, although the rate of improvement appears to have slackened.
This survey follows the release of a stack of housing indices pointing upward on prices. The housing futures market too is broadly for long-term growth in prices, although confidence has waned a shade in recent weeks.
Despite these signs of improvement in the market, if you talk privately to those dealing with the housing figures on a regular basis you will find a hefty weight of doubt in their assessments of the future for the housing market.
The people I chat to still appear to favour a double dip in the market – however you want to interpret that.
Why is this?
Well the main answer you will get is that the trading of homes is thin and not representative of a normal market.
The equity rich see opportunity. The equity poor are excluded. And there is a massive burden of doubt over the future direction of the UK economy.
The real action it seems is in the more stable and equity-rich family homes market in the more well-to-do parts of the UK.
But there is a limit to how far this part of the market can dislocate and float free from the rest.
There also remains a big question over how vulnerable this group will prove to be once the Treasury’s post-credit-crunch adrenalin boost has worn off. And the Pre-Budget Report suggests the withdrawl effects could be quite severe for the well-to-do.
Anyway. It wasn’t a recognised expert that provided me with the comment that grabbed my attention most in recent weeks. It came from a removal chap.
I moved home last week, so took the opportunity to grill one of the more loquacious of the removal fellows – bribed with tea of course.
“We do a lot of work for property developers,” he said. “A few years ago they were converting houses to flats, now we are taking out the stuff from the flats as they change them back to houses again.”
That tells you something about relative prices and the relative activity in the market. So the word on the street is that the family houses market is where the action is.