A Feature Analysis of Brooklyn Apartment Prices

Gregory Brucchieri
Posted on Feb 18, 2018

Introduction

Shelter is one of the most basic necessities for all humans. For those of us in a city who can't afford to purchase our own home, we meet this need by renting, usually an apartment. Every year or two we must again make the decision to extend our lease or strike out to find someplace that better meets our needs. But can we find an apartment we like that we can afford and what wants are we willing to sacrifice to meet our budget? In this project I set out to find the expected costs of the different features of an apartment in the Brooklyn market, as that's where I live and will be looking in the future.

Data Collection

For this project, I set out to gather and analyze as much data as I could on apartments in Brooklyn, NY as I could. I used the Scrapy package  in Python to scrape the data I needed from the web. I decided to scrape trulia.com as that's the site I've used the most, its information and layout are consistent and it doesn't necessitate navigating javascript to reach it all. 

On trulia I was able to consistently get price, neighborhood, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, relative crime rate, age on trulia and a description. I was able to pull over 2000 complete observations.

Analysis

I started off with a word cloud of the words in the descriptions to get an idea of what is most frequently used.

Obviously the word "apartment' is used frequently in apartment listings. After that we have amenities like stainless steel appliances and hardwood floors. After that we see words like "hot water", which probably indicates it is included in the rent, and "washer dryer", which likely indicate that the unit has that luxury most only dream of: in unit laundry facilities.

To understand and breakdown the cost of an apartment, I regressed the price on number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, age on trulia, and dummy variables for levels of crime.

coef std err t P>|t| [0.025 0.975]
const 236.9014 266.013 0.891 0.373 -284.793 758.596
age 1.5520 0.674 2.301 0.021 0.229 2.875
bath 711.1585 41.546 17.117 0.000 629.679 792.638
bedrooms 184.6081 20.374 9.061 0.000 144.652 224.564
lowestCrime 161.9924 79.121 2.047 0.041 6.823 317.162
lowCrime 11.8988 68.596 0.173 0.862 -122.628 146.426
highCrime 34.1149 73.176 0.466 0.641 -109.395 177.625

 

I also included dummy variables for neighborhoods in the regression. This shows additional cost of living in the neighborhood over Brownsville, the neighborhood represented by zeros in the rest of the dummy fields. I chose Brownsville as it had the lowest mean price of any neighborhood. Only 27 of the original 49 showed significance. The price increase ranged from $544 in Sheepshead Bay to $2846 in Vinegar Hill.

The additional cost of the significant neighborhoods and their standard error are below:

coef std err coef std err coef std err
Bay Ridge & Ft Hamilton 566.43 273.64 Crown Heights 1048.15 272.43 Park Slope 1572.01 267.98
Bed-Stuy 709.26 259.1 Dtwn Bklyn 2076.51 277.79 Prospect Heights 1195.4 289.27
Boerum Hill 1692.57 290.77 Flatbush - Ditmas Park 689.75 270.47 Lefferts Gdns 1048.79 282.1
Brighton 870.33 272.18 Fort Greene 1673 297.57 Prospect Park S 975.94 412.07
Bushwick 652.52 261.4 Gowanus 1572.53 294.3 Red Hook 798.28 343.91
Carroll Gardens 1743.02 289.89 Greenpoint 1670.9 264.09 Sheepshead Bay 543.97 267.65
Clinton Hill 1225.16 280.11 Greenwood 830.49 288.9 Vinegar Hill 2846.16 315.97
Cobble Hill 1291.15 326.7 Kensington & Parkville 725.34 298.14 Williamsburg 1477.84 264.79
Coney Island 732.62 330.95 Marine Park 658.9 323.55 Windsor Terrace 983.85 317.43

 

Conclusion

Finally, we see that, on average across Brooklyn, an additional bedroom raises the price approximately $184, while an additional bathroom will cost you an extra $711. These are the relationships we would expect to see. Additionally, living in a lowest crime area costs $160 more a month than living in the highest crime areas.

While this analysis is a good start, there is more that can be done in this area. First, a full analysis of the descriptions could yield additional features that could be included in the regression, such as laundry facilities, included utilities, appliances, etc. Also, a reliable source of the square footage of an apartment would be useful. Although some of its descriptive abilities may be explained in the bedroom and bathroom variables, it would likely still hold much explanatory power in the price.

If I had more time on this project, a per neighborhood analysis would also likely prove very helpful. As there are around 50 distinct neighborhoods in Brooklyn, it creates too much information for a presentation like this. However, an app where a user could choose the neighborhood they are interested in would allow a filter to cut down the noise and give the user the information they need. This could be enhanced by allowing the user to pick the features they are looking for, e.g. number of bedrooms, etc., and give them an expected price for the particular neighborhood, so they know what to expect and look for.

Go here for the GitHub repository to see the relevant code and accompanying slide show.

About Author

Gregory Brucchieri

Gregory Brucchieri

Gregory has a Master of Arts in Economics from NYU. He is a former business analyst with Humana, Inc, where he maintained provider relations and contract databases for smaller, local networks Humana had paired with. He is driven...
View all posts by Gregory Brucchieri >

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