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England and Wales House Price Analysis (jasmcole.com)
153 points by mhb on April 20, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 60 comments



Fantastic what can be achieved with open data.

I have a feeling this won't be possible in the future though: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/mar/24/land-registr...


What a disgrace. The Shakespeare Review was commissioned by the UK Government in 2012 and basically recommended the exact opposite: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/shakespeare-revie...

> ...all PSI [public sector information] is derived from and paid for by the citizen and should therefore be considered as being owned by the citizen. It is the therefore the duty of government to make PSI as open as possible to create the maximum value to the nation.

> The high-quality core should be enshrined as National Core Reference Data... Within such National Core Reference Data we would also expect to find the connective tissue of place and location, the administrative building blocks of registered legal entities, the details of land and property ownership.

> One would be hard-pressed to find any expert who... would advocate the current Trading Fund model (for Companies House, Land Registry, the Met Office and Ordnance Survey) in today’s world of open data. One would question the current quasi-commercial Trading Fund model, in favour of one which would be responsible for high quality and transparent data production [and] publishing this as open data...

It's the same story in Australia with our Tory government. None of them seem to comprehend the very basic economics of open data: they are unwittingly creating a private natural monopoly instead of setting socially optimal prices for a public good (the data). And since the socially optimal price for an infinitely reproducible and non-rivalrous good is usually its marginal cost of production, the price should be set at approximately 0 (i.e. free).


I have absolutely no clue why they think this is a good idea.

The Land Registry is one of the few governmental departments that actually turns a profit! Average is £80m a year if I remember correctly. Apart from that, I think having this data controlled by a private company will make the waters over housing ownership even murkier in Britain.


Well if it already turns a profit, imagine how great it will be for the new owners when they start charging more for public access to public data. And imagine how hard it will be for Private Eye and others to dig into the corruption which is endemic in the UK property market. Some people (if they really qualify as human) see those as positives rather than negatives.


The new owners won't be allowed to raise the prices and the whole thing is guaranteed by the government. It seems likely that it'll still be considered a public organisation like National Rail.


This is just beautiful - lovely visualisations that make patterns in the data pop out at you. High resolution point map is at https://jasmcole.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/countrymap_nofi... - for some reason the image in the article isn't linked.

One interesting one is that London appears to be the only city in England and Wales where the inner city has higher property values than the suburbs - but we already knew that - post-industrial urban rot is taking time to heal. This also illustrates the steady growth of conurbations as the author observes - the rich one in the south-east, and the poor one in the north-west.

Also - what on earth happened in London in January 2010? That's a "market adjustment" if I've ever seen one. Perhaps a single large landlord dumped their portfolio...

At this point, London may as well be a city-state enclave.


> may as well be a city-state enclave.

It's had one of those for a very long time. The City of London is historically a corporation run largely by trade guilds. The City (as locals know it - London doesn't have a downtown) has its own rules.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_London


Several in fact. One of my favourite parts of London is middle Temple, which for a period was a walled city, with its own army, that defend the rights of its lawyers to ... do lawyering. The 13th century was interesting down by the strand.


Right, and one of this sweet little cluster of neighbouring cities was Westminster, which ended up running the largest empire in history. And now, a hundred years later, arguably the City of London is more important than Westminster.


what on earth happened in London in January 2010?

There were stamp duty changes in 2010. So for the right priced house you'd have paid signifcantly less tax on 1/1/2010 than on 31/12/2009.

That graph does seem to have a lot of "jumps" though, I'd be interested to know why. It may just be an artifact of how often different areas report?


Author here, please feel free to ask any questions.


Great article - presumably you work quite closely to this sort of data?

After a very brief view it seems that the lowest house prices have/are falling and the higher ones are rising (I'm pretty sure you mentioned that somewhere there), is that what stands out the most in your observations of the data?

I'll get to read it properly later ...

Also, one typo: "for pointing these out the existence of these.".


Thanks! I don't work at all with this type of data though (I'm a physicist), so my interpretation of it will be mostly guesswork I'm afraid (though I welcome learned comments!).

The divergence in house prices seems to be real, and would correspond to the historically high 'Gini' coefficient of the price distribution. This seems to have been falling recently however, which might represent a turning point in the price divergence.


Have you considered intersecting this with another dataset, perhaps crime rate or suchother?

Personally I noticed that the coastline is more or less green, apart from a couple areas (such as Brighton). Which seems strange to me, as I am biased to think that seafront is usually more expensive than countryside in other countries.

--EDIT-- Oh and thanks for sharing! Very interesting work.


Thanks for your interest. I'd like a map of earnings by postcode, then I can plot as a function of average yearly wage which would reduce the height of the London mountain in this dataset. There are a lot of goodies in the data provided by the gov.uk website, I'll be sure to have more of a poke around in the future.


The sea is rather cold, and the seaside towns were prosperous in the last century's seaside holiday boom but have declined since air travel and the collapse of fishing. Nowadays people living there are more likely to be retired or unemployed.

Property value is very strongly linked to travel time to London.


I've bookmarked the blender video you linked to, I'd love to explore a visualization of data like this: not just a static geo color map but elevation + flythrough. Those annotations for city names are nice too.


Thanks. The video was quite fun to make, I might write up the process in the future. Essentially I made a surface mesh in Matlab, exported to .stl format, which is then importable in Blender.

The city names are text objects with a rotation locked to the camera normal during the flythrough.


"The Welsh character is an interesting study," said Dr. Fagan. "I have often considered writing a little monograph on the subject, but I was afraid it might make me unpopular in the village. The ignorant speak of them as Celts, which is of course wholly erroneous. They are of pure Iberian stock-- the aboriginal inhabitants of Europe who survive only in Portugal and the Basque district. Celts readily intermarry with their neighbours and absorb them. From the earliest times the Welsh have been looked upon as an unclean people. It is thus that they have preserved their racial integrity. Their sons and daughters rarely mate with human-kind except their own blood relations. In Wales there was no need for legislation to prevent the conquering people intermarrying with the conquered. In Ireland that was necessary, for there intermarriage was a political matter. In Wales it was moral. I hope, by the way, you have no Welsh blood?"

"None whatever," said Paul.

"I was sure you had not, but one cannot be too careful. I once spoke of this subject to the sixth form and learned later that one of them had a Welsh grandmother. I am afraid it hurt his feelings terribly, poor little chap. She came from Pembrokeshire, too, which is of course quite a different matter. I often think," he continued, "that we can trace almost all the disasters of English history to the influence of Wales. Think of Edward of Carnarvon, the first Prince of Wales, a perverse life, Pennyfeather, and an unseemly death, then the Tudors and the dissolution of the Church, then Lloyd George, the temperance movement, Nonconformity and lust stalking hand in hand through the country, wasting and ravaging. But perhaps you think I exaggerate? I have a certain rhetorical tendency, I admit."

"No, no," said Paul.

"The Welsh," said the Doctor, "are the only nation in the world that has produced no graphic or plastic art, no architecture, no drama. They just sing," he said with disgust, "sing and blow down wind instruments of plated silver...."

        --Dr. Fagan, a schoolmaster in Decline and Fall (1928), by Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966)


What does this bring to the discussion, other than your apparent delight in anti-Welsh bigotry?


This showcases the power of open data. Love the graphs and especially the flyover.


Unfortunately the Land Registry is in the process of being privatized. If that goes through, it seems very unlikely this data will stay open.


Really? Where did you hear that?


It was announced (cynically) just before the Easter break. I think it's their second attempt to do this. Considering the Panama Papers etc. it's ridiculous that they are making moves to reduce transparency and accountability.


> Considering the Panama Papers etc. it's ridiculous

On the contrary, it's absolutely coherent. They enact policies to favour their own class, which is the class of people owning accounts in Panama and lots of real-estate.

What is ridiculous is the amount of people who do not belong to such class (and likely never will, regardless of ambitions) and still vote for them over and over.



Well that would be crap :(

However, I did vote Blue, and I agree with the principal of small Government and that more should be privatised. Can't have my cake and eat it I suppose.


Will, not would...

I used to think much as you do, until I saw behind the veil and came to realise that while I agree with privatisation in principle, the practice actually comprises a land grab by vested interests who do have their cake and eat it too, as they usually not only get to keep their profits from their monopolies but get government subsidies and grants to boot. If anything, it's "champagne socialism", where the state lines private pockets - which is also known as fascism.

I don't believe technocratic centralised socialistic management is the solution - rather, government by those who do not wish to govern and cannot abuse their position to foster their private interests (sortition holds appeal), and strong regulation of private industry with real teeth.


You see this problem in the energy market. The system is owned by private companies, but the government still have all the control. They get to set the rules and then blame evil big business when prices go up. The effect is to shut out smaller producers and lock in the bulk suppliers.

Ironically state monopolies can be very good for small business. The land registry support an ecosystem of companies that help people navigate the arcane system. A private company could just absorb a lot of this and kill variety and competition.


> I agree with the principal of small Government and that more should be privatised

You should review this position if you think the Land Registry should not be privatised. Mostly there isn't much left to privatise that isn't an administrative function or health or education.


Defence and police although I think that would be a step too far, even for the Conservatives.


Yes it would be absolutely beyond the pale ...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-18150806

>'[Home Sec. Theresa May] added: "It is right that forces up and down the country are now looking... at bringing in the private sector to their forces where they feel there are functions that can be done more cost-effectively by the private sector."'


I don't see how going from government management to private monopoly is supposed to make things better. What is the thought process?


Well it makes it better for the rich people that now exclusively have control of the prior state run functions; they make more money and that's what's important to the Cons as they're who pays for the Tory party and provide the "consultancy" jobs for MPs.

Why make things cheaper for everyone by running national functions from taxation when you can make them more expensive and share - perhaps at a distance - in the profits? /pure-cynicism which I hope is misplaced.


It costs a lot less, runs smoother, and gives better service. At least that's the idea. Whether it works or not in practice is for another day.


There are a lot of things that are sensible to privatize, but this seems entirely political and ideological. I did think the Conservatives were more reasonable than this.


Your own fault.


Open data is not contrary with small government.

Selling my own data to me sounds like more work to do.


This is really great. Even more interesting since I live in one of the very, very red parts in the south east so have a particular interest in how much my house is earning each year - a lot more than me, as it turns out.


The rest of us who were not old enough to work & buy a home before it became unattainable are very envious.


Spare a thought for those of us who were just about old enough to work and buy a home, but instead decided to invest in starting a business or two. :-(

Even having had some modest success with those businesses, I expect we’d have made considerably more return on the initial capital by now if we’d simply bought almost any cheap property here in Cambridge and traded up over the years since, and we could have done it without all the commitment and hard work that goes into getting a business up and running.

The thing that is most infuriating is that the property market is being artificially propped up again and again, both though schemes that pump more money into the market and through planning restrictions that mean we don’t build anything like enough new homes to meet demand. This is great if you have a small portfolio of buy-to-lets or perhaps if you’ve reached a stage where you want to downsize, but not really for anyone else and certainly not for those who just want to buy (or build) a home for their family to live in instead of as an investment vehicle.


Well a deeper problem is the 'home' thing. I'm an immigrant from France, and I'm always /amazed/ at the fact that everyone want a house No wonder there is property shortage, as most of the space is wasted.

Seriously. Take a parcel, make 5 tiny houses with matching tiny garages... In france on that surface you would have a block perhaps 3 story high of 20 luxury flats with underground garage, electric gates etc.

Sure, it wouldn't be be dream 'detached house' thing, but perhaps it's time for the way british people see their 'home' to evolve with the resources they have...

I know quite a lot of people in France who owns a flat. THEIR flat, and it doesn't feel less like 'home' than the random tiny estate 'semi detached' in ASBOland.


Maybe you simply make better flats in France. I lived much of my young adult life in rented flats, and they were horrible.

One had such a damp problem that the main bedroom was uninhabitable, but it took months to figure out who was responsible for fixing it and get the required permissions. In reality, I moved out as soon as I could at the end of the initial tenancy period so I never saw that work done.

One was flooded from an upstairs flat where the plumbing failed. We literally had two large police officers trying to break its door down for several minutes to gain access for the emergency plumber before we discovered that the neighbour had been in all along and somehow slept through everything.

In the next one, you couldn’t walk around or talk normally late at night for fear of the downstairs neighbours getting irate at the noise. Don’t even think about turning up the TV, playing a musical instrument, or running a washing machine after 8pm!

It would take a degree of desperation I have never been unlucky enough to experience for me to ever live in a flat again, or a level of build quality and isolation far beyond anything I have ever experienced in any flat I have lived in or visited.


Yes I appreciate that paper-thin walls aren't going to cut it, that's why I mentioned 'luxury' flats....

I lived in quite a few in France, and I remember playing electric guitar, loudly, at 3am in one and the neigbours couldn't hear it!

They did object about the Djembe session tho :-)


No wonder the UK has a productivity problem.


Plenty of politicians and their partners own small portfolios of but-to-lets. Pretty corrupt if you ask me.


To an extent, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on this one. While I don’t think politicians should be making policy that is blatantly to their own advantage without some other justification, I also don’t think they should be mysteriously forbidden from doing reasonable and legal things that other people in a similar situation to their own except for not being politicians could do.

Put another way, my objection in this case is not to those who have successfully invested in property ownership, whether politicians or not; it is to the fact that doing so was a viable option in the first place, because the housing market has been systematically manipulated over many years now to artificially inflate the value of properties. This gives a false sense of security to a lot of people, and for the same reason, it makes it politically difficult to implement policy that will restore some sense of proportionality to house prices, such as significantly loosening planning rules so we can simply build more homes.

That is what needs to change, IMHO. The value of a property can be whatever the market wants it to be, given what the land it’s on is worth and what it costs to build and connect up and so on, but we shouldn’t be forever inflating the market by artificially making property a scarce resource.


"Successfully investing in property ownership in the UK" also means excluding younger generations the chance to own their property (especially if you are in a position to influence the supply side via planning laws), so I am less keen to give them the benefit of the doubt.


Yes, especially the born-and-bred Southerners who are migrating North for a bit of stability in their lives, leaving behind their friends and family. :(


What could be more indicative of a completely dysfunctional economy? When a non-productive asset 'makes' more money than someone going out and doing productive work.


Why do you consider a house "non-productive"? If you want to test how non-productive a house is I suggest trying to make do without one.


The house already exists and is not contributing anything to the economy. Therefore it is not productive.


A house provides shelter to an economically productive household. Through its location it might provide access to amenities such as schools or transport links. It has value because people want to live in it and they are willing to give up some of the economic gain they believe they will get through living in that house in order to get those benefits.


That explains why people attach value to the house, not why it's productive.


Have you factored the tax you would pay on any money you make? Thats 40% -- if you take this into consideration, price rises aren't THAT extraordinary...

I'm also one of the lucky one whose house price has risen by 25% over the last 2.5 years. However, it means I'd have to pay 40% tax on that delta, leaving me in no position to buy anything equivalent (let alone better) in the same area.

The only people who 'profit' are people who want to seriously downsize or leave the 'red' areas. Everyone else is on the same mad train, apart from the banks, solicitors, insurers, estate agents, 'developers' and other bubble hangers on.


Are you sure about that tax situation? I'm not a UK taxpayer any more, but my understanding is that you shouldn't pay 40% on increased valuation of your home for selling it.

1) asset appreciation will be taxed at capital gains rates, not marginal income rates. That tops out at 28%, not 40% 2) with some exceptions, primary dwellings aren't subject to capital gains tax when sold.


Fortunately in the UK you don't pay capital gains tax on the property you live in.

You pay it on your second property I believe, but only if you sell, and only if it is a second property at that point.

CGT is also only 10% or 20% depending on your earning situation.


Here are some more datasets provided by HM's Government, there are a lot of interesting sets: https://data.gov.uk/data/search


How can this post have 51 points,be second on the front page and have only one comment?


People read it, think it's interesting enough to be shared but have nothing valuable to add to the topic.

Like yourself.




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