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Why access to quality property data is a competitive advantage for residential property pros


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Property data - and most importantly the intelligence gained from it - is the vital ingredient for any residential property professional looking to find the best opportunities, assess whether they work (financially and in planning terms) and then connect with property owners to seal the deal.

It enables you to answer key questions like:

  • What is the expected economic growth of a particular town?

  • Which locations in the UK have the highest expected gross yield value?

  • Which locations are seeing the most development; where are housebuilders most active?

Despite this, getting access to accurate and comprehensive data and bringing it together in a coherent way simply isn’t straightforward. 


Traditional sources of property data

In our recent blog, we looked at the pros and cons of the traditional data sources that property investors use:

  • Google Maps

  • Land Registry

  • Valuation Office Agency

  • A local agent

  • Online property markets, like Zoopla

  • Planning portals & interactive maps

These are all staple tools, but they aren’t the best sources of data for many reasons…


Top challenges with traditional data sources in property investing

Right now, there are several key issues with the data in the property industry:

Lengthy, cumbersome process - Capturing and compiling the data is a long process and many of the websites used for this may be missing key pieces of information or are clunky and hard to use. This means it is not possible to think strategically and then target the opportunities that are identified by a chosen strategy.

Data dispersed - The data isn't held in one place and investors find they have to search multiple sources on the internet - a lot of which isn't easily accessible. For example, simply understanding what the value of a property is for a sale and normalised on a rate per sq ft basis can be time consuming. These figures aren’t published on the portals. Typically you would go to Rightmove or Zoopla to gather the sales prices and then either manually find property sizes from plans, particulars, room sizes or indeed energy performance certificates (EPC).

Rates per sq ft are a useful metric as they normalise sales prices regardless of the size of the specific property sold - allowing swift assessment of whether a purchase is good value or not. In addition, they bring prices in line with build or conversion costs which are often quoted in rates per sq ft. Therefore, it allows for quick appraisals of whether a deal is likely to stack up.

Conflicting data - Figures from one source might not match another - even when they are both concerning the same issue with the same parameters. This is quite normal. If you look at the size of a building from a set of plans, then measure it yourself and check an EPC,  you will find you get three different numbers.

Indeed, the first job in any commercial rent review is for the two professional surveyors to agree what the size of the property actually is!

The important thing is to bring together all the information available and ensure the information aligns within reasonable tolerances. If it doesn’t, then more research is needed to ensure you can build confidence that your position is the right one.

For obvious reasons, this can make property investing risky - and slow. 


Top benefits of working with quality property data

With access to the right data from all the sources that are available, quickly, the savvy investor can be the first to source valuable deals in a highly competitive market.

They benefit from:

  • Speed - Finding sites quickly that meet the criteria of your chosen strategy. Finding the “needle in a haystack” opportunity fast and quickly moving on from those that are not viable.

  • Get funding at the best rates - Great comprehensive data on a project makes a developer more credible and more likely to get finance at a competitive rate.

  • Truly scalable opportunity identification - Data allows property developers and investors to work on multiple projects as they have more time. With access to the best information, in the right format, it is possible to think more strategically and use the information to target all of the opportunities that fit within your strategy.

  • Confidence - Developers can use the information to identify schemes that match their strategy. It can also help them understand how councils reacted to other similar schemes (whether they gave consent or not), and how the locals reacted (whether they kicked up a ferocious “NIMBY” objection). They can also identify who the key people were that supported those schemes so that they can quickly assemble a specialist team to support them with specific and relevant experience in projects similar to the ones they’re committing to.

  • Reduce risk - Enabling them to assess where information aligns with what they think and where it doesn’t - uncovering the real risks with a project and what is truly possible on a site. It helps to avoid making expensive mistakes and buying a site that won’t get planning permission or that will not be profitable.

  • Gain commission from sourcing the best deals for clients - With a scalable approach to finding opportunities, it has never been easier to find sites for yourself or your clients. With comprehensive information at your fingertips, you are able to clearly explain the opportunity presented to your client and share clear evidence to support your explanation, driving confidence in your advice for you and your client. A happy client brings fees and repeat business.

How can you get access to the best-quality data

If you don’t want to miss out on hot property investing opportunities, property technology (proptech) is what you need. With technology, the property data you need is brought together in one coherent way, in one tool.

Plus, the quality of data is superior when disparate datasets are intelligently linked together. Typically the truly useful information lies in the intersection of datasets because a property requirement usually touches multiple datasets. For example, if you want to target the latest and hottest commercial conversion opportunities, e.g. under Class MA or Class ZA where buildings that previously were very hard to convert now present great opportunities then you need to overlay information from c.20 locations and filter opportunities based on these 20 datasets concurrently.

Moreover, it saves you the lengthy time it takes to manually research - and miss hot deals.

With tools like these, you can get access to residential, commercial and land comparables, planning constraints and policies together with information on property uses, sizes and characteristics.

You can even highlight properties in your chosen area for your chosen strategy that are financially viable and work in planning terms. For example:

  • Converting commercial buildings to residential use or 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.​

This enables you to find and qualify sites quickly and get in touch with the vendor to seal the deal - before someone else does.

Top tip: 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.

Bonus top tip: Make sure residential and commercial data is included. If you are looking to benefit from the changes to permitted development, you will need access to both data sets to assess the potential value of conversion otherwise the tool will only answer half the questions it needs to.


Make the right property investment decisions with the right data

Traditional property research methods make it almost impossible to accurately assess an opportunity - and to do so quickly. Whilst this is happening, you are missing out on both the deals you are looking at right now and the others available on the market as traditional and manual data collection and consolidation isn’t scalable. The biggest challenge is the risks that traditional methods leave in a deal - some data just isn’t available without the use of property technology.

With the quality data and speed that property tech allows you to access, you can build a stronger case and reduce the risks in investing, more easily get funding from investors and truly scale your property business.

Trusted by 1000’s of the most successful property entrepreneurs, Nimbus Maps enables property investors and professionals to find the best off-market opportunities and make decisions quickly and with confidence.

Ready to see our property data platform in action? Book a demo today.

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