House prices go, er, up and down. I think.

House prices go, er, up and down. I think.

And there we have it. One outrageous claim in the headline and suddenly my blog hits go up from a hundred or so a day to un-countable thousands or more.

Only “New Paris Hilton Tape Surfaces” would get me more hits, I reckon. Or maybe not; she is 30 now, when all’s said and done.

Anyhow, I know this to be the case because when I posted “Choosing a blog title that GUARANTEES hits” the numbers went through the roof. Needless to say, the article that followed the headline was almost empty. If you can’t be bothered to click the link it included a photo of a woman pondering a sheet of paper, and the question “Worked it out yet?” underneath the photo.

Needless to say, some people got the gag – in other words, if the headline contains a promise of value to the reader then more people will go there – and some were kind enough to send me “Yeah, got me!”  emails – but one humourless forum moderator told me I was promoting myself and not discussing a topic of general interest and moved the article to the “promotion”  area of his precious little discussion group. He also asked me if I knew there was just a photo there, and nothing else. (Clearly hadn’t paid that much attention when scrolling down.)

Welll, I suppose there was an element of self promotion involved, because as a commercial writer it’s always good to remind people that I can write a headline that gets people in. (Well, you’re here reading this too, aren’t you?) But I was actually trying to share a bit of knowledge.

According to the Freshly Pressed splash page of WordPress (never mind all the other blogging sites) todays stats look something like “the best of 407,349 bloggers, 510,498 new posts, 462,867 comments, & 109,212,412 words posted today on WordPress.com.”

And that’s so far. 109 MILLION words? Really? On just one site? In one day?

Sheesh. Somebody do some real work, already!

Anyhow, it occurred to me that the vast majority of those umpteen words would be more likely to be read – not to mention innumerable books, advertisements, memos, emails and the like – if people could just remember that the most important line they write is the headline.

(By the way, the next most important is the next line. And the next is the last line.)

And also remember that no matter how good the headline, (in this case it was a scare story about interest rates) the information in the following article might just be crap.

For example, in the article in question a spokesperson for real estate intelligence group Residex remarked that they “wouldn’t be surprised” if  – unlike the rest of Australia – property prices fell in Melbourne by as much as 10% in the next twelve months, due to over-supply of property.

Yet as recently as, er, today, another report talked about a massive under-supply of property in Melbourne in coming years. See http://www.smartcompany.com.au/property/20100319-housing-shortage-to-hit-466-000-by-2020-hia-report-reveals.html.

Now, I am not being controversial for the sake of it, because I am sure Mr Man at Residex would jump on me and argue that the property market goes up and down, and his forecast was specifically for Melbourne in the next 12 months, and the current over-supply will wind down, and therefore the two reports are actually complimentary, blah blah blah and anyway, frankly, if he can persuade people to shell out spondoolicks for his reports then more power to his elbow. But my attention is drawn to that phrase “wouldn’t be surprised”.

See, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if property prices took off again in Melbourne as Spring continues to, well, spring, because in my view the dampener on prices recently has not been supply and demand (not that dear old supply and demand isn’t an important factor in any market) but because people have actually been scared shitless by a global financial crisis, rumours of another one, various rather nasty wars and revolutions, Noah-level floods, searing bush fires, endless whining in the press about how we’re all going to hell in a hand-basket, miscellaneous other crap like the next inevitable flu epidemic, and last – but not least – the laughable inability of politicians in Europe, America or Australia to display even the slightest smell of what could remotely be considered competent leadership in recent years.

Yet despite probably the most unsettling couple of years in living memory, we are all gradually waking up to the fact that we’re still here, and the world toddles on, and somehow or other we seem to have dodged the hail of bullets that everyone assured us was heading our way. And when the sun and the spring flowers come out, people will still want to improve their lifestyle, or their family circumstances will have changed, or they need to move for work, and they’ll start sniffing around for homes again, whether that means “second hand”, or new.

So I predict prices in Melbourne (and many spots in America and the UK, Spain and other climes as well) will start to climb over the  next half year. My reasoning is pure instinct: people just don’t stay down in the dumps forever.

Then again, what do I know? Answer: well, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if your riposte in six months was “not a lot”.

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