There are 4 steps to learning about how to invest in property in the UK. This may sound...
The race is on to find the new abundance of property investment opportunities, and quickly. There is no prize for coming second, only the person buying the site will be able to benefit from the opportunity. And that’s why savvy investors are leveraging the latest property technology to rapidly find the best investments and to secure them before their peers.
Contrary to belief, these property tools aren’t some new, complicated mod-con that distracts you from your property investment processes. Some of the latest tech is so very easy to use and simply replaces traditional/more manual processes - so there's no need to retrain. Later, we've outlined a two-point checklist to help you pick the best.
But first, let’s look at the benefits of using PropTech…
The benefits of using technology and data for property investments
With property tech, you can more easily find the sites, the right information you need to make an investment decision and allows you to connect with key people to secure your new property investment. The key here is speed! And that's where tech comes in: you can quickly assess whether an opportunity is viable and move on to the next one before another investor.
PropTech vs traditional example: The drive around. PropTech can replace traditional and alternative methods such as driving around a location to see what’s for sale. Whilst this method is a great gauge for how an area feels, it can be very unreliable as there's no data. And of course, it is time-consuming and damaging for the environment.
Why you can’t avoid using PropTech for property investing
Put simply, you just won’t be able to find the best projects without property technology - it’s almost impossible for you to find off-market opportunities and it is certainly not scalable. You will therefore only see what is on the market which is reactive - and probably already been turned down by many investors - which will likely give you much lower returns and be more competitive.
Also, it is extremely difficult to gather all the data on a property to comfortably assess it, the surrounding properties and the neighbourhood without PropTech. As a result, wrong assumptions can lead to big mistakes - for example, you overbid or indeed underbid on a site and therefore lose money.
7 top property investment tools
There’s an overwhelming volume of tech out there and it's hard to see which will add value rather than detract from your current property investment efforts.
We know you are busy so don’t have time to review what’s out there. So here are the right tools we would recommend to work alongside you so that you can win with PropTech…
⭐ Top recommendation: An all-in-one property investment tool - This is the BEST option for those that don’t have the time for manual and more traditional property research methods. With tools like these, you can qualify sites quickly and get in touch with the vendor to seal the deal - before someone else does. The more advanced property investors are leveraging these tools and making massive returns.
Alternatively, these more traditional tools and approaches are at your disposal:
Off Market/Direct To Vendor
- Pros: Going directly to a property owner with your offer is the best option as it ensures you pay the right price.
- Cons: It’s impossible without prop tech to source these sorts of properties and it's certainly not scalable - so not ideal for times like now when there’s so much competition.
- Pros: This provides very basic information including street view which gives a feel for the area.
- Cons: You can’t see the depth of the building to understand the scope for development and it doesn’t give any information about the value of the property.
- Pros: This provides details of the name and address of the owners and contains detailed information on easements (e.g. access rights and parking rights), restrictive covenants, mortgages, maintenance responsibilities, lease agreements, transfers, conveyances, historical rights, tenure (e.g. freehold, leasehold or commonhold), title number, purchase price and more.
- Cons: It costs £3 per title and these have to be bought individually - which is time consuming and offers limited information.
Valuation Office Agency
- Pros: This source enables you to check the commercial size and rateable value of a property. Local councils use this to calculate business rates for that property.
- Cons: The address matching is a nightmare which makes finding the right rateable value for the property very arduous.
A local agent
- Pros: You will be made aware of a property before it is on the market.
- Cons: You will need to spend time building a network of reliable agents and they will often have existing long-standing relationships which you’ll have to break and you will have to pay them a fee.
Online property markets
- Pros: You can easily find properties on the market via tools like Rightmove, Zoopla and more, without leaving your home.
- Cons: There’s lots of competition easily accessing this source too so you will pay the highest price and consequently get the lowest returns. The best ones have probably already been turned down by the local “in crowd”/well connected.
These are staple tools for property investment that won’t change. But there are lots of other good tools out there too, like the all-in-one prop tech that makes your job as an investor or developer easier! Whilst you can get away with these more traditional methods, PropTech will eventually be the only way to seal the best deals.
A checklist for comparing all-in-one PropTech
If you are considering a few all-in-one solutions, it’s worth flagging these two key features to look out for:
Make sure residential and commercial data is included - Successful property development and investment strategies often involve converting the use of a property to maximise its value. And that’s why you need access to both classes. You need to be confident of a property’s current value versus the potential value if it was converted to a different use class.
That’s why tools like Nimbus Maps, give you access to reliable full information on residential and commercial property. In fact, Nimbus Maps is the ONLY tool to provide such comprehensive data.
Ensure it can highlight profitable opportunities - These tools need to instantly pinpoint the properties and sites where you can add value. This is how you save time and secure the best investments before your peers. The key element to look out for here is comprehensive data. If the tool isn’t powered by the depth and breadth of property data available, it won’t be able to pinpoint the most viable options in terms of planning and financial returns for development.
Some tools offer particular overlays that can be added to your search to ensure properties meet your investment criteria - and most importantly, flag if they are financially viable. For example:
- Converting commercial buildings to a residential use or sometimes a more valuable alternative commercial use.
- Building new houses or flats on land (back gardens, side gardens, corner plots).
- Demolishing a house to build multiple on.
- Demolishing commercial buildings to build new houses or flats.
- Unlocking previously undevelopable airspace to develop flats or extend houses under the new permitted development rights.
- Extending existing HMOs to increase the number of lettable rooms.
- Converting commercial buildings in residential areas to HMOs.
Essentially, you need a tool that can “find the needle in the haystack” for anyone looking for a property they can develop to increase its value.
Why Nimbus Maps is the go-to for 1,000s of property professionals
If you are looking to up your game and return as a property investor or developer, Nimbus Maps could be the one for you. It's an all-in-one tool that helps property investors to quickly find, assess and secure imminent opportunities.
1. Easily find sites
Nimbus Maps Elite includes comprehensive data on all properties and sites in England and Wales as well as some key data in Scotland. Once you know the criteria for the property/land you are looking for you can use the filters to find sites that match your criteria. Simply add them to the Workflow tool in Nimbus and send a letter campaign to the owners of these sites. You can expect a 10% response rate and 10% of the responders are likely to proceed with a sale.
Why this is crucial to investors: This is super quick with Nimbus (it takes minutes) but without it, or with a similar tool, it’s virtually impossible or would take days to compile the information. The critical benefit here is that purchasing “off-market” is usually the best way to pay less than market value and increase your chance to add the maximum value when developed.
2. Get the best information to make an investment decision
Nimbus Maps leverages comparable sales data to show what residential and commercial properties have sold for previously and what properties are on the market in any given area, as well as index the likely current value.
Why this is crucial to investors: It helps you make a more informed decision on whether a property is a sensible investment and that planning is likely to be granted - as you can see other similar sites and planning applications in the area as well as the success rates for similar nearby developments.
3. Connecting with owners/planners/architects/investors
In Nimbus Maps, you can export the details of all planning applications and filter by various different criteria to find the planners, architects, developers etc. for similar properties - such as converting offices to flats.
Why this is crucial to investors: This means you can go directly to specialists that will likely have the specific set of skills you want to make a similar project successful in that area.
Investors find the tool is so powerful that thousands use it daily and have rated it ‘excellent’ on Trust Pilot reviews (230 property professionals have rated us 5/5 stars).
Modern PropTech is key to quickly securing the best property investments
There’s a tonne of tools out there to make property investment quicker and easier. Whilst the more traditional tools are also readily at your fingertips, they could force you to miss out on opportunities, pay premium prices - or worse, leave your finances tied up in a bad investment.
The property industry has changed and is modernising. Paul Newby, a surveyor with over 40 years experience with national surveying firms said, "the way we used to do things is no longer fit for purpose, and it will not revert back, and so we need to embrace technology to quickly benefit from the changes and opportunities in the new property landscape."
And that’s why new PropTech is key. Nimbus Maps provides a single source of trusted and interlinked information which addresses the market's requirements as it moves to be more digitally-led.
Loved by 1000’s of the most successful property entrepreneurs, it enables property investors and professionals to find the best off-market opportunities and make decisions quickly and with confidence.