BSRI model

An agent based model for understanding the changes in the dynamics of the real estate market in Beirut

The Buy/Sell/Rent/Invest (BSRI) model that I created an agent-based model that simulates the dynamics of a financialized housing market, specifically focusing on the impact of a vacancy tax on Beirut. This project motivated the questions that are currently driving my PhD.

The source code is availble here, and is under the Anti-Capitalist License v 1.4.

You can play with the model live here (edit: Heroku killed their free tier and with it killed the demo…). It’s super slow because it’s hosted on a free server, but it works nevertheless. It also might be glitchy if more than one person views it at the same time, but bare with me! It’s a known issue to the maintainers of Mesa, the agent-based modelling library that I’m using!

Map key

As you look at the map, each square represents a specific housing unit. Here’s what the colours mean:

  • Grey: owned by normal households
  • Yellow: owned by an investor who’s keeping the unit off the market
  • Green: owned by an investor, on the sale market
  • Blue: owned by an investor, on the rental market
  • Light blue: owned by an investor, on currently rented out

Try playing with different tax rates (and all the other parameters), and see what the future city looks like. If you make interesting findings, please let me know about them.

About the name

Bisri is the name of a beautiful valley in Lebanon, the Bisri valley. It was (and probably still is) threatened by outrageously misguided schemes to build a dam that would destroy the valley and provide negligible benefits. While I was developing the model, my friend and classmate Roland Nassour, who is the coordinator of the Save Bisri campaign, was attacked brutally to deter him from his activism. This model is named after the Bisri valley, as a tribute to the valley and to the monumental efforts of all the activists who worked to preserve it, in particular, Roland Nassour.

Majd Al-Shihabi // مجد الشهابي
Majd Al-Shihabi // مجد الشهابي
PhD Student

A technologist, turned urban planner, turned technologisturbanplanner. Also PhD student, in geography, at University of Toronto. I think about climate change, urbanism, epistemic communities, (computational) models and their ontologies, and building them in participatory ways.