10 Updates

How Smart Houses And Big Data Will Change Real Estate Economics

May 19 2014, 7:42am CDT | by

One of the features of big data is the accumulation of massive amounts of information that are not suited to traditional econometric and statistical techniques. I predict that this phenomenon will...

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10 weeks ago

How Smart Houses And Big Data Will Change Real Estate Economics

May 19 2014, 7:42am CDT | by

One of the features of big data is the accumulation of massive amounts of information that are not suited to traditional econometric and statistical techniques. I predict that this phenomenon will someday change the way real estate economics are done.

Models of house prices are used in a lot of ways. This is how a lot of cities and counties do “mass appriasals”. It’s how house price indexes separate price changes from quality changes. When companies like Zillow generate Zestimates of what a house is worth, these are the models underlying them. It’s how the Bureau of Labor statistics adjusts housing rents for quality changes and depreciation when computing the CPI.

The general form of these models is to take the log of price as the dependent variable, and housing and neighborhood characteristics as the independent variable. But the list of independent variables that is usually available gives you a relatively limited description. While the exact list varies form data source to data source, typically it might look like: building square footage, lot square footage, number of stories, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, central air (yes/no), number of fireplaces, garage size, finished basement (yes/no), and of course address.  Using this last variable you can get a lot more information about the neighborhood from other data sources.

This is the basics of what a lot of house price models are dealing with. It might not sound like a lot of information, but in many circumstances you can explain a huge amount of the variation in house prices using relatively limited information like this. In fact using just neighborhood indicators and square footage you can usually explain a significant amount of the variation. However, even 80% of the variation explained still leaves a lot unexplained. And intuitively these kinds of variables still leave a lot of information out. This is where I think things will be changing in the future due to what people are calling “smart homes”.

There are a variety of “smart home” products on the market now, but these things are going to get more and more sophisticated soon. The cuurent generation of Roombas just sort of bounce around the room, but other robot vacuums scan the room first and make a plan. The Nest smart thermostat that Google recently acquired recently pays attention to where you are in your house and when and remembers this. It’s easy to imagine where this leads in the future: Robot vacuums will know the dimension of every room in the house, the kind of flooring in each, and maybe even the quality and age of the flooring; smart TVs will know which room is the living room; Nest knows which room is the kitchen, which are the bedrooms, and how energy efficient the home is. What’s more Nest will be able to measure the extent to which the house is fully utilized and therefore how convenient the layout is; in other words, a Walkscore for your home.

And this is just the information that smart homes will bring. There is a whole other set of high dimension data coming on neighborhoods. This includes data tracking the paths of bikers and runners, counting potholes, measuring the location and quality of amenities like the real Walkscore measure, and so forth. This provides even wider data that often has both high frequency spatial and time dimensionality. Some of this stuff is being incorporated in analysis already (see for example research from Emily Washington and Eli Dourado on Walkscore). But there is a long way to go in terms of incorporating a lot of high-dimensional property and neighborhood data into house price models.

In short, you can imagine the creation of very, very wide high-dimension datasets. What do you do with a dataset that “knows” your house with this level of detail? Suddenly variable selction becomes an important part of the challenge, and economic theory may provide little guidance. The use of principle components to create measures of “house quality” from several variables is not new in real estate economics, but that is really just scratching the surface when it comes to machine learning models that could be utilized and doesn’t really capture the potentially highly non-linear and interactive nature of the relationships between these variables.

High-frequency and high-dimensional datasets are going to change a lot of research that until now has been relatively simple. Researchers just starting out their academic careers should definitely be taking a look at machine learning tools in anticipation of the exciting future of data.

 
Update
10

7 weeks ago

RM47mil KWSG contributions still unclaimed

Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the Dewan Rakyat was told t ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
9

7 weeks ago

Gold shop lost almost RM1mil

Jun 9 2014 3:50am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KANGAR: A gold shop owner lost almost RM1 million after after the safe on in his shop was broken ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
8

7 weeks ago

Motion to debate MAS losses in Dewan Rakyat rejected

Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was reject ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
7

7 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Minister, ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
6

7 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selatan’ in the southern states last mont ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
5

7 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over RM2.78 million in c ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
4

7 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said. ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
3

7 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year involving a ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
2

7 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramada ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
1

7 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billion Kinrara Damansa ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 

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