THERE was a sharp intake of breath in estate agencies up and down the country yesterday morning.
They were taken aback, as were most homeowners, by figures from the Central Statistics Office showing a fall in house prices in December.
Just when most people thought the worst was over, the statisticians proved to be killjoys.
Few were more surprised than head of research at Lisney, Aoife Brennan.
She quickly issued a statement dismissing the CSO's findings as absurd and totally out of line with what is happening on the ground.
The fact that the CSO picked up declines in prices were down to the way the property price index is put together, she explained.
Of course, it is amusing to see an estate agent reacting with fury to their plans for a healthy level of sales in 2013 going up in smoke.
But the Punt has some sympathy with her views, emotive though they may be.
The CSO does not include cash transactions, which Lisney said made up 45pc of transactions.
And the figures are based on mortgage drawdowns, which reflect property deals struck months ago.
Why it is taking the CSO so long to incorporate cash transactions in its calculations is a mystery.
Until cash purchases are included in the index we can't be sure of the accuracy of the residential property index.