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09.03.20 / Shut the front door, data is great

As a Senior Consultant at OneFifty, Anne-Catherine looks at patterns of data and decision frameworks every day. So, when it comes to buying a property this is how she’s used this approach find her perfect home. It might save you some time if you’re house hunting… 

For most of us, buying a flat or house is a big thing and we put extra effort into it. Whether you like spreadsheets and data or not, you probably have (or will end up) creating one to track all the possible properties you can buy, the price, maybe the agent’s contact details. 

A tracker is a good way to stay organised and have a useful overview BUT not that helpful to make a decision. 

At OneFifty, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to go about assessing the relative importance of various factors that are needed to make or measure the ‘best’ decision (given a specific goal). 

In my case, there were three goals:

  • Value for money
  • Viability to rent it out in the future
  • Find a well-connected location to support my busy lifestyle 

When looking to make these decisions, we also consider one other thing: measurable variables (or proxies of it). The keyword here is ‘measurable’, so that we can simply calculate which options have the highest likelihood to achieve those goals. 

My six variables were: 

  • Distance to work
  • Distance to gym
  • Area look and feel
  • Price per sqm
  • Proximity to park/ outdoor space
  • Lease expiry date

All these variables were numerical apart from “area look and feel”, which I therefore ranked on a categorical scale. With a few minutes of Google searching the data gathering is pretty easily completed.

So far so good and probably pretty similar to what you would do. My question to you now: are all these criteria equally important to you? Probably not… 

I’m a very active person, so proximity to the gym and park/ outdoor space are more important to me than the distance to work. Likewise, I want value for money, so the price per sqm is crucial.

What I have just described in two sentences is what we call ‘applying a weighting system to your decision-relevant variables’. Not every variable is equally important to you, which is absolutely fine and something that should be reflected in your decision.

Good news on that, you don’t need to go any deeper into maths-chatter with me. I’ve already done the work for you and you can simply have a look at this spreadsheet, make a copy and modify the weights and variables as you wish. Alternatively, just drop me a message, I’m happy to assist fellow home buyers: 

I hope you can see how easy it is to filter for the relevant or desired options and make that ridiculous number of flats and houses you could potentially buy more manageable. 

The outcome for me was that I was very clear on the flats worth investing my time in, so I’ve started to put the leg work in and have cycled to my top 20 viewings over four months (estimating a good 108 miles based on my Strava tracker!). Approximately 20% of the places I saw were what I was hoping for. Even better news, my top-ranked place was so me that even the seller couldn’t resist my offer – some would say data magic happened 😉

Let me know how you get on with my spreadsheet. Any furniture or appliances you don’t need anymore are equally welcome – quick buy & free delivery only! In the meantime, I still have a few more boxes to unpack and to prepare for my house warming. 

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