Here at Land Registry we are always keen to support great use of our data and Manuel Timita from Illustreets has created a fascinating application using house price data.

This data is free for all and we’re always keen to see how it can be used. We’ve given today’s blog slot over to Manuel to explain about his creation:

NB There are lots of working parts, so please make sure you view on a later version of your browser, and it may not work so well on Internet Explorer.

At Illustreets (http://illustreets.co.uk), we are fascinated with the character of British living, and specifically with the versatility of neighbourhoods. The British neighbourhood landscape is anything but sterile or homogeneous, which makes relocating an adventure – almost an art, if it’s to be done successfully.

Using maps as canvas and open data as paint, we seek to tell a visual story of various places across Britain. Our mission is to help everyone, whether they’re looking to move house or simply curious about where they live, explore places, learn more about them, and ultimately choose the best out of those that fit their preferences and budget.

Some of the most ambitious visualisations that we had in mind became possible when Land Registry opened up a sizable amount of its data. A while ago, even before our web app was launched, we got really excited at the thought of working with this freshly available treasure of numbers, not only because it is reliable and so thoroughly organised and presented, but because its nature is acutely pertinent to the foremost preoccupation of our society – finding a home.

Our first attempt at working with Land Registry’s datasets has come alive in a rather beautiful, yet unsettling visualisation: an interactive, animated map, showing the evolution of house prices in London between 2000 and 2013.

London house prices: evolution over 13 years

Interactive map on Illustreets.co.uk

As the animation progresses, one can see the prices increasing year after year, “heating up” the map of London. There is only one sign of cooling, which happened for less than two years during the global economic recession of 2008 – 2012. After that, however, the average property value simply skyrockets almost everywhere. One can select a borough from the list at the top, in order to see its evolution compared to London overall. Maybe not surprisingly, this visualisation shows Islington, Camden, and Hackney as the forerunners in house price growth.

However, this is only part of the story. Some of the best gems lay hidden in the price paid data and we were impatient to see what we can find. Thus, we went back to work immediately after and created a new animated map, but with much more data and covering the whole of England and Wales: the volume of property sales by postcode district and price

England and Wales property sales by postcode

Property sales by price range and postcode

This visualisation allows a much more complex user interaction: there are two sliders which change the date and the price range. The user can flick through different steps of the animation, postcode districts can be clicked for more information and since this is ultimately a map, it can be searched, zoomed and panned as usual.

This time we were in for a little surprise. We thought that, to an extent, the spike in property prices which we have witnessed in the last few years has somehow impacted on the volume of sales. Maybe it did in some places, but not in London, and definitely not in the most sought-after postcode areas.

On the contrary, in many areas the monthly sales volume is growing. Despite the recent exodus towards new property Meccas, such as the borough of Hackney, the traditional contenders have done well every year. In South West and North West of London especially, the demand goes up with the price.

Judging by some definitive hot spots, where a large number of property transactions take place, we dare say that the visualisation also reveals a degree of crowd mentality, certainly prevalent when it comes to property ownership. We hope that potential buyers will be using this visualisation as well as the other ones that we have created at Illustreets, and discover that there are still some affordable and good places to live available – even in and around London.

As developers working with open data, we believe that the collective effort in the UK to open government data for public use is nothing short of extraordinary – it is something to be cherished and built upon. We are thrilled to see Land Registry making such a big contribution, and we are looking forward to making the most out of its datasets, for the benefit of all of those looking for a home.