We may have reached peak index

We may have reached ‘peak index’

Last week Nationwide published its monthly House Price Index.

Cue headlines across the nationals that house prices have bounced back this month.

“UK house prices rebound, Nationwide says.”

“UK house price growth rebounds in June, says Nationwide.”

A variation of the above was peppered across online articles once the index published. Job done for Nationwide.

Indices are a well-established PR tool for brands.

For media they provide a regular, trusted source of insight. Though they’re branded, the data is new and useful. A far cry from the dreaded “product push pitch” that makes journalists regret the day job.

For businesses, they’re a way of staying front of mind with journalists as an authoritative voice on the industry and ensuring your name is regularly wallpapered across the press.

Win, win.

The property sector in particular loves an index. But have we reached saturation point?

There’s a wealth of regularly published, respected data available from the likes of RICS, CBRE, Rightmove and Halifax. Commercial and residential trends are well covered.

But publishing a completely new index for this sector is tough. An index will have little value if the data tracked is not in demand.

And even if a niche is found, you need time to build trust.

Existing indices have longevity on their side. Nationwide’s monthly index has been running since 1991. Any journalist will tell you such history bolsters an index’s credibility hugely.

So for those without the luxury of time to build a trusted index, commenting on existing industry indices may be a better bet than starting afresh.

Statistics always require comment. Where does the industry go from here? Who will be most affected by an index’s findings? No journalist wants to be seen to be giving too much attention to one industry name. Reactive comment from other figures is usually welcome.

Businesses can also use data from others’ indices as proof points to support their own views over the longer term. Data from an index can have a long shelf life, beyond the initial day of release.

As more and more property indices launch and existing ones become more established, creating a new index for the property sector, that genuinely adds value, may become almost impossible. We may have almost reached ‘peak index’.

Yet the swathe of existing property indices doesn’t mean those without their own data set are locked outside the party.

In most cases, an index from one presents a media opportunity for another.