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Are we looking in the right place? Housing search mismatches: evidence from Greater Manchester in the UK

Le-Vinh-Lam Doan (Faculty of Civil Engineering, Ton Duc Thang University, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
Alasdair Rae (Automatic Knowledge Ltd, Sheffield, UK)

Open House International

ISSN: 0168-2601

Article publication date: 2 January 2023

18

Abstract

Purpose

With access to the large-scale search data from Rightmove plc, the paper firstly indicated the possibility of using user-generated data from online property portals to predict housing market activities and secondly embraced a GIS approach to explore what people search for housing and what they chose and investigated the issue of mismatch between search patterns and revealed patterns. Based on the analysis, the paper contributes a visual GIS-based approach which may help planners and designers to make more informed decisions related to new housing supply, particularly where to build, what to build and how many to build.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper used the 2013 housing search data from Rightmove and the 2013 price data from Land Registry with transactions made after the search period and embraced a GIS approach to explore the potential housing demand patterns and the mismatch between searches and sales. In the analysis, the paper employed the K-means approach to group prices into five levels and used GIS software to draw maps based on these price levels. The paper also employed a simple analysis of linear regression based on the coefficient of determination to investigate the relationship between online property views and values of house sales.

Findings

The result indicated the strong relationship between online property views and the values of house sales, implying the possibility of using search data from online property portals to predict housing market activities. It then explore the spatial housing demand patterns based on searches and showed a mismatch between the spatial patterns of housing search and actual moves across submarkets. The findings may not be very surprising but the main objective of the paper is to open up a potentially useful methodological approach which could be extended in future research.

Research limitations/implications

It is important to identify search patterns from people who search with the intention to buy houses and from people who search with no intention to purchase properties. Rightmove data do not adequately represent housing search activity, and therefore more attention should be paid to this issue. The analysis of housing search helps us have a better understanding of households' preferences to better estimate housing demand and develop search-based prediction models. It also helps us identify spatial and structural submarkets and examine the mismatches between current housing stock and housing demand in submarkets.

Social implications

The GIS approach in this paper may help planners and designers better allocate land resources for new housing supply based on households' spatial and structural preferences by identifying high and low demand areas with high searches relative to low housing stocks. Furthermore, the analysis of housing search patterns helps identify areas with latent demand, and when combined with the analysis of transaction patterns, it is possible to realise the areas with a lack of housing supply relative to excess demand or a lack of latent demand relative to the housing stock.

Originality/value

The paper proves the usefulness of a GIS approach to investigate households' preferences and aspirations through search data from online property portals. The contribution of the paper is the visual GIS-based approach, and based on this approach the paper fills the international knowledge gap in exploring effective approaches to analysing user-generated search data and market outcome data in combination.

Keywords

Citation

Doan, L.-V. and Rae, A. (2023), "Are we looking in the right place? Housing search mismatches: evidence from Greater Manchester in the UK", Open House International, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/OHI-06-2022-0145

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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