Predict real estate prices

How to solve a regression problem using table data and images

If you deploy the final trained AI model from this tutorial in real life, someone could load the location, size of their house, etc., via an online portal and get a valuation. Nice!

Getting a good estimate of the price of a house is hard even for the most seasoned real estate agents. With the advent of deep learning it is now possible to get a much more sophisticated valuation as we can now use several data types — such as images and table data.

Person - Target audience: Beginners

You will learn to
Peltarion logo - Solve a regression problem. When you want to predict a quantity, e.g., a price.
Peltarion logo - Use multiple datasets, both tabular data and images.
Peltarion logo - Run multiple concurrent experiments and compare them.

Before following this tutorial, it is strongly recommended that you complete the Deploy an operational AI model if you have not done so already.

Create a project

Start by creating a project on the Projects view by clicking on New project.

New project icon

The data

For this tutorial, we have created the Calihouse dataset. You can read more about it here. This dataset consists of map images of the house location from Open street map and tabular demographic data collected from the California 1990 Census.

House with a view

Each sample in the dataset gives the following information about one block of houses:

  • Median house age

  • Total number of rooms

  • Total number of bedrooms

  • Population

  • Number of households

  • Median income

  • Median house value

We wish to make an AI model that learns to predict the price of a house, here called median house value, given the other available data (i.e., median house age, population, etc.). Hence, median house value is our output feature, while the others are our input features. It wouldn’t be a useful system if we had to input median house value to get median house value in the output, right?

Add the Calihouse dataset to the platform

After creating the project, you will be taken to the Datasets view, where you can import data.

Click the Data library button and look for the Cali House - tutorial data dataset in the list. Click on this dataset to get more information.

If you agree with the license, click Accept and import. This will import the dataset in your project, and you will be taken to the dataset’s details where you can edit features and subsets.

House pricing dataset
Figure 1. House pricing dataset

Feature distributions

By each feature, you’ll see a feature distribution showing the distribution of the feature. In our case here, all our variables are natural measurements, which almost certainly guarantees that they have something similar to a normal distribution.


AI learns from data we supply. But how can we be sure that it will work with other data – data that it hasn’t seen?

The answer to that is validation. Instead of using all of the data available for training the system, we leave some aside to test the system later. This validation subset makes sure that we know how well the system is capable of generalization, i.e., how well it works on data it hasn’t been trained on. As you can see in the Inspector, the dataset is by default split into two subsets, 80% is included in the training subset, and 10% is put aside for a validation subset. Leave it at the default value, but you can change this later if you want to.

Normalize image input data

Locate the feature image_path and click the wrenchwrench. Change the Normalization from None to Standardization. You normalize a dataset to make it easier and faster to train a model.

Standardization converts a set of raw input data to have a zero mean and unit standard deviation. Values above the feature’s mean value will get positive scores, and those below the mean will get a negative score. The reason we normalize or scale input data is simply because neural networks train better when the data comes roughly in an interval of -1 to 1.

Create a feature set

Create a feature set for the second experiment. A feature set is two or more features that you want to treat in the same way during modeling. This feature set consists of the tabular data on the houses, for example, number of bedrooms and median income. Click on New feature set, name the feature set tabular and select the information on the houses:

  • housingMedianAge (1)

  • totalRooms (1)

  • totalBedrooms (1)

  • population (1)

  • households (1)

  • medianIncome (1)

Click Create.

Create button

The new feature set will be displayed above the columns. Click on it to view the features that are included.

Datasets view - Feature columns and tabular feature set
Figure 2. Datasets view - Feature columns and tabular feature set

Save the dataset

You’ve now created a dataset ready to be used in the platform.
Click Save version and then click Use in new experiment and the Experiment wizard will pop up.

Save button

Design a model for image data

Now that we have the data, let’s create the AI model. We’ll start by just trying to predict the prices from the map images. It most likely won’t give us good predictions, but let’s try it anyway just to get a baseline.

On the Peltarion Platform, an experiment is the basic unit you’ll be working with. It’s the basic hypothesis that you want to try, i.e., “I think I might get good accuracy if I train this model, on this data, in this way.”

An experiment contains all the information needed to reproduce the experiment:

  • The dataset

  • The AI model

  • The settings or parameters used to run the experiment.

The result is a trained AI model that can be evaluated and deployed.

Create experiment

You should be in the Experiment wizard. If not (you never know when things don’t go as planned) navigate to the Modeling view and click New experiment.

  • Dataset tab
    Make sure that the Cali House dataset is selected

  • Input(s) / target tab
    Make sure the Input feature is image_path and the Target feature is medianHouseValue.

  • Snippet tab
    For the image input data, select EfficientNet B0. These are a family of neural network architectures released by Google in 2019 that have been designed by an optimization procedure that maximizes the accuracy for a given computational cost.

  • Weights tab
    Keep all default settings. The nice part with pretrained snippets, such as EfficientNet B0, is that they have learned the useful representations from the dataset it has been trained on. This stored knowledge can be used in new experiments.

  • Click Create. This will add a complete Efficientnet BO snippet to the Modeling canvas.

Create button

Modeling canvas

The Experiment wizard have pre-populated all settings needed:

  • The Loss in the Target block is set to Mean Squared Error (MSE). MSE is often used when doing regression, when the target, conditioned on the input, is normally distributed.

  • The last Dense block has Nodes set to 1 because we want only one prediction.

Settings tab in the Inspector

Navigate to the Settings tab in the Inspector and change the Learning rate to 0.0005.

Run experiment

Now, it’s time to train the model and see if we’ve come up with a good model.

Done! Click Run.

Run button

Run concurrent experiment with a second input for tabular data

While the first experiment runs you can build and run a concurrent experiment to find out if you can improve the experiment.

If you’re on the Free plan you can run 1 experiment at a time. All other plans can run concurrent experiments.

As long as you keep the same loss function, you can compare the results of the experiments and see which one is the best in the Evaluation view.

One way to improve this experiment is to add a second input for tabular data and see if that will improve the experiment’s predictions. So we want to combine two nets with different inputs and see if they can work together.

  1. Click on the 3 dots next to your first experiment and select Duplicate. Do not copy the weights.

  2. Remove:
    the Dense block and the Target block.

  3. Expand the EfficientNet BO block and then expand the Top block. You’ll see a red Dropout block at the bottom of the snippet.

  4. Open the Blocks section in the Build tab in the Inspector and add a Concatenate block with 2 inputs.

  5. Connect the Dropout block with the Concatenate block.

  6. After the Concatenate block add:
    A Dense block with 512 nodes and ReLU loss function.
    A Dense block with 1 node and Linear Activation.
    A Target block with target feature to medianHouseValue and loss to Mean squared error.

  7. Let’s build the network for the tabular data. Add:
    An Input block with input feature tabular. This is the feature set you created in the Datasets view.
    A Dense block with 1000 nodes and ReLU loss function.
    A Batch normalization block.
    A Dense block with 1000 nodes and ReLU loss function.

  8. Connect the last Dense block you added with the Concatenate block.

Click Run and move on to compare the two experiments.

Run button

Analyze experiments

The Evaluation view shows in several ways how the training of the model has progressed and how your experiments are performing.

Did the second input help? As you can see after a few epochs, the results are drastically improved — it’s actually learning something. If you let it run for a while you’ll get a decent predictive tool.

Loss graph

The lower the loss, the better a model (unless the model has over-fitted to the training data). The loss is calculated on training and validation and its interpretation is how well the model is doing for these two sets. It is a summation of the errors made for each example in training or validation sets.

Loss graph
Figure 3. Loss graph

Prediction scatterplot

In a perfect scatterplot, you’ll have 100% on the diagonal going from bottom left to top right.

Prediction scatterplot
Figure 4. Prediction scatterplot

Error distribution graph

The Error distribution graph shows the number of instances as a function of the error value. This is to see how the errors are distributed. Naturally, we want the curve as narrow as possible, no errors!

Error distribution graph
Figure 5. Error distribution graph

Deploy trained experiment

While our model may be great, it is little more than an academic exercise as long as it is locked up inside the platform.

If we want people to be able to use the model, we have to get it out in some usable form. Check out the tutorial, Deploy an operational AI model, to learn how to put things into production and make AI models operational.

Tutorial recap

Congratulations, you’ve completed the California house pricing tutorial. In this tutorial you’ve learned how to:

  • Solve a regression problem, first by using a CNN snippet and then by extending the experiment using multiple datasets.

  • Analyze the experiments to find out which one was the best.

Good job!

We suggest that the next tutorial you should do is Fruit similarity search, that will show you how to work with image similarity. This is a way to quantify how similar two images are.

You will learn to:

  • Build and deploy a model for image similarity.

  • Use the output from any block inside the model.

Fruits tutorial
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