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Why do we need better housing data collection?

Wiktor Bochenek
12 of January '23

Housing in Poland, as in the rest of the world, is evolving with changes in culture or ownership structures. What is the case for housing big data? Experts from the Institute for Urban and Regional Development looked into the matter.

Housing affects us all - and the discussion of the housing crisis has been going on for years (you can read more about it in last year's issue of A&B - Architecture and Housing Policy). Solving this problem requires complex work in rental housing construction or legal changes. First, it requires something else - information and data. This is what the experts at IRMiR have addressed.

The report "Housing Data in Poland" by Hanna Milewska-Wilk and Kamil Nowak is a document addressing the issues of quality and access to information on housing in Poland. At the outset, it is worth highlighting a rather interesting fact. In the report we find links to the transcript of a scientific seminar on the subject, which completes the whole thing.

If we want to think seriously about improving our housing policy, as well as improving cooperation with developers - it is worth starting by discussing how to collect and use this data. Below you will find a summary of the report's key findings.

The report "Housing Data in Poland" is available on the website of the Institute for Urban and Regional Development.

where do we stand?

As the authors of the report point out, the problem is not the purpose of data collection, as these data are consistent across state, local government, market or academic institutions. The data are not obtained only by the Central Statistical Office, but by, among others, the National Bank of Poland, several ministerial departments and dozens of entities - including private and scientific ones.

Problems with obtaining housing data include, first of all, their dispersion, as well as difficult access for those analyzing the real estate market. The collection of housing data is done at the local level with a diversity of entities such as municipality, county and general court districts. This makes it difficult to acquire data, but also to focus and analyze it.

Polski system statystyczny

polish statistical system

© Institute for Urban and Regional Development

This also translates into another problem - the lack of comprehensive systemic monitoring of knowledge at the local level. This leads to the fact that of two neighboring municipalities, one can provide a considerable amount of information, while the other is limited to the minimum necessary.

Another problem is the differentiation of terms, which should be standardized. The crowning example of this is the difference between defining what a primary market is in the CSO and NBP surveys. The CSO defines a legal entity as a seller, while the NBP defines a developer. The definition of the trader is completely different, as well as the issue of contract conclusion and transfer of ownership. These data should be unified.

The problem, directly affecting everyone, is poor access to information on housing prices or rental rates. This is data that is primarily provided without adequate discussion.

It is also important that the data often does not keep up with ownership trends. The market housing rental sector is not properly monitored - primarily in the context of information on the number of contracts and leased apartments. As with the primary market, there is a problem with defining rental phenomena. The same problem applies to the Real Estate Price Register.

Access to knowledge - land registers, but also government housing programs financed by Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego - is also a signaled problem. The limitation of this data significantly deteriorates the view of housing.

Nakładanie się jednostek przestrzennych

overlap of spatial units

© Institute for Urban and Regional Development

what's next?

The authors of the report, Hanna Milewska-Wilk and Kamil Nowak, don't just leave us with a dry sum of information and conclusions. The document also includes recommendations worth implementing to improve the housing data system.

First of all, it is necessary to create a new legal, methodological and technical framework for monitoring the housing situation at the local level. Not to be limited to the municipalities' own resources, but to include housing cooperatives, developers, communities and many other entities.

It would also be important to include in the monitoring system information on the energy efficiency of buildings, the technical condition, the issue of architectural barriers and many other elements relevant to quality of life.

It is necessary to create opportunities to use data that are currently limited. Such formulas can be created for the BGK, which would not have to provide data on banking issues, and would be limited to housing. The case is similar with the issue of land records, which, with limited personal data, would improve the state of knowledge about housing.

Podstawowe sposoby porządkowania danych o zasobach mieszkaniowych

basic ways to organize data on housing stock

© Institute for Urban and Regional Development

tools for improvement

The article aimed to summarize the main findings of the report, which is an introduction to the broad phenomenon of collecting data on the residential real estate sector. If we care about good space, improved quality of life and better awareness of where we stand, it's worth leaning into the systems for collecting and using data, as the IRMiR has done.

The report "Housing Data in Poland" is available on the website of the Institute for Urban and Regional Development.

compiled by Wiktor Bochenek

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