A game to hammer home how broken London house prices are

That'll be £150,000, if y… oh, you're in London? Make it £1.5m.

Viral upstarts Us vs Th3m have found a shortcut to the heart of every British person with a game about house prices. No, really, it's fun, go play it. (I scored 75 per cent). The game looks up the prices of ten houses sold in June 2013 from the land registry, and then gives you a Google Street View image of the property and the town (or London borough) it's in. From there, you just have to guess how much it is, to the nearest thousand pounds.

Two thoughts:

  1. Most people playing the game are commenting on one thing and one thing only: London house prices are unreal. For the most part, you can play the game with a rough rule of thumb: a slightly dingy looking semi is around £150,000; scale up or down based on that. But if you get too comfortable, and don't check the location, you'll find yourself being out by a factor of ten, because that dingy looking semi was actually round the corner from Harrods and sold for £1.5m.

    Look at it from the other way, as someone who just about knows what London prices are, and Paweł Morski provides the strategy:

    Divide by 3 for midlands, 5 for North.                                                                                                              

    You may think that "London is expensive" isn't big news, but it seems like a lot of people who thought they knew the score are being caught out.

  2. But I have a feeling that when the sticker-shock wears off, the other thing people will start chatting about is that the internet lets you do things which are kinda creepy. You did, after all, just find out the prices of ten strangers' houses based on photos taken by a car which has shot every street in Britain. Are people actually fully used to that reality? Or have we just not yet caught up with the new normal?
Photograph: Us vs Th3m

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Getty
Show Hide image

How Theresa May laid a trap for herself on the immigration target

When Home Secretary, she insisted on keeping foreign students in the figures – causing a headache for herself today.

When Home Secretary, Theresa May insisted that foreign students should continue to be counted in the overall immigration figures. Some cabinet colleagues, including then Business Secretary Vince Cable and Chancellor George Osborne wanted to reverse this. It was economically illiterate. Current ministers, like the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, also want foreign students exempted from the total.

David Cameron’s government aimed to cut immigration figures – including overseas students in that aim meant trying to limit one of the UK’s crucial financial resources. They are worth £25bn to the UK economy, and their fees make up 14 per cent of total university income. And the impact is not just financial – welcoming foreign students is diplomatically and culturally key to Britain’s reputation and its relationship with the rest of the world too. Even more important now Brexit is on its way.

But they stayed in the figures – a situation that, along with counterproductive visa restrictions also introduced by May’s old department, put a lot of foreign students off studying here. For example, there has been a 44 per cent decrease in the number of Indian students coming to Britain to study in the last five years.

Now May’s stubbornness on the migration figures appears to have caught up with her. The Times has revealed that the Prime Minister is ready to “soften her longstanding opposition to taking foreign students out of immigration totals”. It reports that she will offer to change the way the numbers are calculated.

Why the u-turn? No 10 says the concession is to ensure the Higher and Research Bill, key university legislation, can pass due to a Lords amendment urging the government not to count students as “long-term migrants” for “public policy purposes”.

But it will also be a factor in May’s manifesto pledge (and continuation of Cameron’s promise) to cut immigration to the “tens of thousands”. Until today, ministers had been unclear about whether this would be in the manifesto.

Now her u-turn on student figures is being seized upon by opposition parties as “massaging” the migration figures to meet her target. An accusation for which May only has herself, and her steadfast politicising of immigration, to blame.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

0800 7318496