Finding quality sites for property development or investment has become a very data-heavy exercise.
The good news for developers is that there is an abundance of data out there to take advantage of – but therein lies the problem. If everyone has access to the same information, can they alone gain a competitive advantage from it?
The answer is yes – if they can find value within the data that others have missed. This is particularly so for off-market opportunities where, unlike market development opportunities, there are not lots of eyes looking at the same list of options, pursuing the same targets, and in turn driving up bid prices and eroding profits.
So how do developers avoid this trap by identifying value in the market others had missed and implementing a successful site finding strategy. The key is having the right approach and the right tools to turn the data to your advantage, something that has been made easier as access to data, increasingly in a single platform, improves.
With better access to information regarding land ownership, planning constraints and application history now available, developers can find, assess and engage with landowners more easily and more quickly.
PropTech and site sourcing
Site sourcing platforms have become popular in the industry over recent years; they are a valuable tool for developers of all sizes. Increasingly though, the question for users of these platforms is not what data they have, but how they use this information.
KPMG highlights this point in a recent PropTech survey – ‘Is your digital future in the right hands?’ – commenting that in adopting digital technologies “the focus is on improved efficiencies and enhanced decision-making rather than revenue generation or customer engagement”.
SearchLand is relatively new to the world of PropTech site sourcing, launching at the beginning of 2021 in the midst of a pandemic. One of the company’s founders, Hugh Gibbs, previously worked in a land sourcing role and has seen a shift as the industry moves to owning the off-market site finding process. And this has been a key differentiator for SearchLand, which has been built with a mission to allow its users to remain competitive in a world where more and more businesses have access to the same information.
Data, data, data
In my experience, having access to the right data is a key ingredient of any good development strategy. The more data you have, and the higher its quality, the better placed you will be to make the right decisions.
The emergence of innovative PropTech software solutions has undoubtedly made life easier for developers, but I think there is still plenty of room for improvement. The ability to interrogate multiple data sets quickly and easily can give you a real competitive edge – and that’s where a smart site sourcing platform becomes such an indispensable tool in a developer’s arsenal.
It’s clear that data is simply a means to an end. It is not enough to dump information in one place anymore – information needs to be linked, enriched and highly searchable, allowing competitive advantage to be regained. Moreover, it needs to be visualised in ways that are easy to understand.
It is up to PropTech firms, then, to provide the tools that can make the most of the data at hand. Ultimately, the combination of data, software and the technology wrapped around it must work together seamlessly. Developers up and down the UK will be increasingly aware of this – as PropTech and big data become more common within the real estate sector, there must now be a refinement in how both are applied to deliver value. This is at the heart of what SearchLand is about. Making site finding quicker and easier, allowing developers to concentrate on the important business of delivering high-quality schemes.
PropTech remains, relatively speaking, in its infancy. Property and planning due-diligence platforms will continue to grow and evolve. The platforms that succeed are the ones that promote speed, flexibility, automation and create new ways of doing things. Most importantly, however, the platforms that will excel are the ones that can provide developers with the data-driven tools that provide a crucial competitive advantage.