Machine Learning Applications to Land and Structure Valuation

Michael Mayer, Steven C. Bourassa* (Corresponding Author), Martin Hoesli, Donato Scognamiglio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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In some applications of supervised machine learning, it is desirable to trade model complexity with greater interpretability for some covariates while letting other covariates remain a “black box”. An important example is hedonic property valuation modeling, where machine learning techniques typically improve predictive accuracy, but are too opaque for some practical applications that require greater interpretability. This problem can be resolved by certain structured additive regression (STAR) models, which are a rich class of regression models that include the generalized linear model (GLM) and the generalized additive model (GAM). Typically, STAR models are fitted by penalized least-squares approaches. We explain how one can benefit from the excellent predictive capabilities of two advanced machine learning techniques: deep learning and gradient boosting. Furthermore, we show how STAR models can be used for supervised dimension reduction and explain under what circumstances their covariate effects can be described in a transparent way. We apply the methodology to residential land and structure valuation, with very encouraging results regarding both interpretability and predictive performance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number193
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Risk and Financial Management
Issue number5
Early online date20 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgments: We thank Nicola Stalder and his IAZI team for preparing the dataset for the Swiss case study. The authors are grateful to the referees, whose feedback and comments have improved the quality of the paper.


  • land and structure valuation
  • machine learning
  • structured additive regression
  • gradient boosting
  • deep learning
  • interpretability
  • transparency
  • hedonic modeling


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