UK

Six in ten Britons track friends’, colleagues’ and lovers’ house prices

Nearly 60 per cent of Britons have tried to find out how much people they know spent on their latest property purchase, new figures have revealed.

While few believe it is acceptable to ask someone what they paid for a home outright, the vast majority have adopted under-the-radar tactics to discover what family, friends, ‘frenemies’, neighbours, colleagues and even potential partners paid for their homes.

Twenty-four per cent of people admitted they had even called time on a relationship after finding out the value of their partner’s home, according to Zoopla.

Clued up: Nearly 60 per cent of Britons have tried to find out how much people they know spent on their latest property purchase, according to Zoopla

People also use ‘super-snooping’ tactics, which include searching for sale records online, to see how much a home they want to buy was last sold for, or to track what has happened to the price tag of a property they used to live in. 

‘People always want to know what others have paid for a property’, Camilla Dell, managing partner at Black Brick Property Solutions, told This is Money. 

While the majority of people are activity snooping, 65 per cent said they would never admit to the owner that they had researched their property’s sold price.  

Neighbours, friends and family member’s homes are the most likely targets for super-snoopers, but 11 per cent said they had also looked up what a colleague paid for a property. 

Three in ten said they were able to make assumptions about their colleagues’ pay packets after finding out how much they were able to fork out for their home.

How to track house prices

HM Land Registry has an online tool which enables people to look up sold prices for properties across England and Wales. Separate tools apply for Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

The Land Registry sold data is used by websites including Rightmove, Zoopla and others to show how much properties went for. 

At the height of the pandemic last year, there was a lull in publishing up-to-date sold price data for house prices, with the Land Registry claiming it was focused on providing its ‘core’ services instead. 

But sold price data is now readily available, and generally seems up-to-date again.

There are a few other options for keeping abreast of house prices near where you live.  

Halifax and Nationwide both publish their own indices each month.

Both of these data sets are based on significantly fewer transactions than the Office for National Statistics’ – around 15,000 a month – and as they are based on their own mortgage lending they exclude cash purchases, making them less comprehensive.

They are, however, more up-to-date than the Land Registry, where a sale can take weeks or months to be registered in the system. 

Every three months, Nationwide also puts out more detailed regional house price reports.

There’s also LSL Acadata, which is based on Land Registry data, but uses its own internal models to give more up to date predictions and forecasts.   

One in ten people said they had even checked out the value of the home of a prospective, current or former partner. 

Nearly a third said they continued to date someone they would have otherwise ditched after viewing the price tag of their home online. For people aged between 35 to 44, this figure rose to 46 per cent. 

Around half of people said seeing a partner’s property value ‘encouraged’ them to keep dating someone, rising to 63 per cent for men. 

But a quarter of people said they had called time on a relationship after viewing the value of their partner’s home. 

The emotions stirred by seeing how much someone has paid for a home can be complicated, and 11 per cent admitted they felt jealous after seeing the figures involved.

However, 10 per cent said they respected the person more after seeing their property’s value, while 9 per cent said they felt they liked the person more than before. 

Tom Parker, consumer spokesperson for Zoopla. said: ‘Buttoned up Brits love talking about house prices – but for most, asking someone straight up what they paid for their home is still considered a taboo.

‘But how much a house sold for is publicly available information and is easy to source online.

‘Whether it’s your boss, a friend or even a potential partner, it’s clear we want to know more about the homes they live in and will often treat them differently as a result.’

Buying agents will often go to great lengths to help their clients find out what other people paid for a home they are interested in. 

Camilla Dell added: ‘As buying agents, before we submit an offer on a property we always do a comprehensive “buying report” for our clients. 

‘Within the report we highlight relevant comparable sales. It’s all about the price per square foot – the price paid divided by the internal square footage. 

‘This gives our clients a pretty good idea if the price they are paying is reasonable or not, and also aids us with our negotiations.

‘We obtain data via Lonres – an industry-only database for agents, and the Land Registry. 

‘For off-plan sales, obtaining comparable sales data is a lot more difficult as sales will only appear on the Land Registry once they have completed which could be years away.’

Last month, data from the Office for National Statics revealed that average house prices across the country increased by 10 per cent in the year to May. 

Some buyers fear they paid too much for their latest property, after savings from the stamp duty holiday were eaten up by soaring price tags. 

The main stamp duty holiday applicable on homes up to £500,000 ended on 30 June. 

Until 30 September the nil rate band will be £250,000. It will then return to the standard amount of £125,000 on 1 October.

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