It has been reported by Estate Agent Today that property portals may be inaccurately reflecting prices in some areas because properties listed with multiple agents are being counted more than once.
The claims come from statistician Michelle Ricci, who is a co-founder of property search engine Propcision.
Both Rightmove and Zoopla strongly refute the claim.
But Michelle Ricci says average house price data for parts of London, published by Rightmove and Zoopla, vary as much as £1 million from the actual figures recorded in the Land Registry for the same period.
“We suspect that property portals may be including all listings rather than removing the duplicated listings,” the Estate Agent report quotes Ricci as saying.
“In real terms, if a £7 million house is listed 10 times with 10 different agents, it is counted as 10 different £7 million houses.
“Obviously, this will impact the calculation of the average asking price in any location” she says.
The report cites a number of examples to illustrate Ricci’s point.
One is Rightmove’s January 2016 index which states that the average price of a property in Kensington & Chelsea is £2,256,043.
“However the Land Registry for December 2015 states the average price of a house in Kensington and Chelsea was £1,371,086,” Ricci points out in the report.
“This implies that somehow there was a £1m jump between achieved values in December 2015 and asking prices in January 2016.”
Ricci says because it takes between three and five months between listing a property for sale and it appearing in the Land Registry, she has gone back further to make comparisons.
Looking at Kensington and Chelsea again, Ricci says Rightmove states that in February 2015 - a year ago - the average asking price was £2,317,078.
“To allow for transaction time, we look at the Land Registry data between April and August 2015, it states the average house price in this borough was between £1,330,959 and £1,337,073,” she says.
“Even after incorporating a 10 per cent gap between asking and achieved price, Rightmove’s figures are still far cry from the Land Registry’s figures - about £1 million more.”
Ricci asserts if a borough has a high number of higher priced properties listed multiple times due to the fact that it is being marketed by multiple agents, many housing indices published by property portals will count each listing as a separate listing thereby skewing the results.
“The more duplicate listings a borough has of properties that are priced above-average for that borough, the more the results published in these housing indices are incorrect,” she argues.
However, the portals strongly deny that their indices are inaccurate or involve double-counting.
“The gap between the two reports is because Land Registry uses the geometric mean not the arithmetic mean,” a spokesperson for Rightmove told Estate Agent Today.
Zoopla’s Lawrence Hall adds Zoopla average property values in any area (the Zed-Index) is the average of the current estimated value for every property in a given area and is not based on asking prices.
“So there is no double-counting in our figures,” he says