• WBS academics have found a link between art and house prices
  • The researchers used Flickr images tagged with art in London
  • Chanuki Seresinhe found higher property prices tied to more art images
  • This was especially the case in 'arty' areas like Shoreditch and Hackney

Academics have found there is a link between pictures of art taken in London neighbourhoods and local property prices by analysing millions of online photos.

Chanuki Seresinhe and Associate Professors Suzy Moat and Tobias Preis, of Warwick Business School’s Data Science Lab, investigated how photographs uploaded to Flickr can help shed light on the relationship between the presence of art and changes in property prices.

Ms Seresinhe, a PhD student in the Data Science Lab at Warwick Business School, said: “Our results suggest that art is indeed associated with improving economic conditions of urban neighbourhoods.

“It was exciting to discover how closely the proportion of art photos from Flickr resembled popular notions of arty areas in London. For example, East London (notably Shoreditch, Dalston and Hackney) has long been thought to have experienced art-led economic development, while areas in South East London (such as New Cross and Deptford) are currently experiencing art-led economic development.

Percentage of art images on Flickr (map showing levels of art on Flickr in London)

“I find it fascinating that the images and text we share on social media are giving us such interesting and valuable insights into what is happening in the real world.”

In the paper Quantifying the link between art and property prices in urban neighbourhoods, published in Royal Society Open Science, the researchers’ analysis revealed that neighbourhoods with a higher proportion of ‘art’ photographs also experienced greater relative gains in property prices.

The researchers analysed data from 4.4 million images taken in London and uploaded to Flickr between 2004 and 2013. Neighbourhoods within London were identified using the Royal Mail’s postcode system. Specifically, the researchers divided London into subareas by referring to the ‘outward code’ element of postcodes, such as E9 (Dalston) or E2 (Shoreditch). For each of these neighbourhoods, the researchers calculated the proportion of images which had the word ‘art’ attached to them, in the title, description or tags.

Paint by numbers: Map showing levels of art on Flickr in London and how house prices compare
Paint by numbers: Mean house prices (map showing how house prices compare)


“We find that London neighbourhoods with a higher proportion of art photographs on Flickr have also exhibited greater relative gains in house prices,” explained Dr Moat, Associate Professor of Behavioural Science and co-director of the Data Science Lab.

Dr Preis, Associate Professor of Behavioural Science and Finance Science and co-director of the Data Science Lab, said: “This research provides another example of how social media and online data can help us gain new and important measurements of the world we inhabit.”

The researchers have previously used crowdsourced data from an online game to demonstrate that people who live in more scenic areas report their health to be better.

“Our latest findings once again show how online data can help us better understand the relationship between the visual environment in which people live and crucial socioeconomic measurements,” said Ms Seresinhe.