Remember The Other Side Of The Coin

There are two sides to every story, but so often we hear only one - not because of prejudice, but because of influence. We are seeing this now with media coverage of the expected interest rate rise, likely to happen sooner rather than later.

Many estate agencies and mortgage lenders (actually just a few thousands in total) have public relations teams to exert influence on the media, while the amorphous group of people known as ‘savers’ (actually many millions) do not.

Therefore we hacks frequently receive press releases talking up the ‘problem’ and ‘risk’ and ‘fear’ of rising interest rates - which are detrimental to the PRs’ clients - even though those same interest rate rises will presumably be welcomed by savers, who have no press releases to let us know how pleased they will be.

This influence is apparent in all papers, no matter how much they might hope to rise above it. See the headlines in the Mail (here) and in The Independent (here) to see the consensus which this influence creates.

The same principle applies, only more so in my opinion, to the coverage of house prices.

RICS and the NAEA and individual estate agents talk up the market with very effective press releases; developers reassure us that they are in good corporate shape ‘despite’ falls in the prices and volumes of the homes they build. It is all one side of the coin - the side that says rising prices and sales are good news, period.

Don’t get me wrong. As a home owner and a (very) amateur landlord, I hope property values appreciate and interest rates stay low. These would be in my interest. But that in itself does not make it a balanced statement of benefit to everyone.

What if frustrated young people who cannot afford a deposit, or people who just want to rent and never want the hassle of owning, had their own PR machines? We might just see this kind of story...

“The housing market got a boost today from the double whammy of falling prices and rising interest rates. The National Association of First Time Buyers says the 2.1% drop in average house prices announced by the Nationwide meant more single people would consider buying their home, while a spokesman for the Association of Responsible Lenders claims the 1% hike in interest rates would encourage savings and, in turn, allow more funds for mortgages....”

You see - there is another way of looking at things, even if it's not the one which suits those with the publicity budgets.

If you would like to to comment on this article, click HERE to e-mail Graham.Follow PropertyJourn on Twitter