21st September 2011
The name 'House Price Crash' gives it away. The site was set up in 2003 by "a small group of individuals who were extremely interested in the house price crash subject" but claimed they couldn't find a site devoted to the subject.
Predicting a "boom bust event" the site provided like-minded individuals discussions in which they could have their say about – at the time – runaway house price growth in the UK. The forums went from strength to strength and apparently now have more than 50,000 hits a day.
In April 2006 the site was acquired by Fubra Limited, a Hampshire-based internet media company, which set about developing more content for the site.
However, the aim of the site remains the same: "to act as a counterbalance to the huge amounts of positive spin the housing market receives in the main media and provide anyone involved in the market with up to date data and commentary."
The site's stance is summed up in its Twitter bio (@housepricecrash): "House prices are coming down. Yay for first time buyers! Boo for homeowners."
Basically contributors appear to be frustrated would-be first-time buyers who resent renting and are hoping prices will "crash" so they can cash in. Presumably if any of these people eventually buy a property they abandon the site and look for one that talks up the property market.
So, what happens on the discussion boards of 'House Price Crash'? I lurked and found out what the purveyors of property doom were talking about.
Typical thread titles include "Why a mansion tax works", "I've been worried we were wrong but…", "Estate agents discuss overvaluing", "London property bubble about to burst" and "Sellers struggling".
There's obvious delight in any loss of homeowners' equity. Strbear kicked off yesterday's "I've been worried we were wrong but…" thread with: "Like many I've been on this site for years and, in that time, I have come to wonder if I have it wrong and actually property will continue to be sold for much more than I think it can possibly be worth. But I am coming across more properties that, whilst still overvalued in my opinion, are starting to become more realistic – to me it's probably a 40-50% drop that needs to make it so. But whilst looking today, I saw this which is in a nice development in a part of "gentrified" West Yorkshire and it's up with a 60% fall over the 2007 last sale price. That's a cash buy! There is light and it will come to pass, glad I held on and hope to reassure a few others on here, keep the faith fellow bears!"
Meanwhile in response to an article in The Daily Telegraph about the London property bubble being about to burst, The Masked Tulip wrote: "It is a great article – excellent news indeed. London falling will be a huge bearish sentiment for prices."
The posts and subsequent replies to them are written with little empathy for the sellers who are likely to be selling at a loss or struggling to keep a roof over their heads.
One thread entitled "The crash is here in my area" includes a post by andybee33 describing how sellers were accepting a lot less than the asking prices in his area. It concludes with: "So, IMPO, the crash is really here – it just isn't being reflecting in asking prices yet. Only a matter of time though. Once these new 'low' sales complete, EAs and Surveyors will use them as valuation basis.