These days, the process of buying a house normally starts online with a search on one of the big property portals. You enter a postcode or a place name, set a geographic radius and then filter the results according to the desired number of bedrooms and a budget.
And if you see something you like, you contact the agent, through the site, to arrange a viewing.
The model, while it couldn’t be simpler, doesn’t work well for everybody. It is designed for homeowners and tenants and for those who will live in those properties they are using the portal to find, the logic is sound.
Property investors, buy-to-let landlords, and investment companies, however, have different needs that aren’t being sufficiently met.
As you would expect, investors think about property and location in a very different way to a homeowner and they are hungry for as much information as they can get; around rental demand, capital growth, and yield averages.
And while it is entirely possible to extract from the portals, the data needed to build a complete market-picture of, say, the rental market in a specific postcode, the process is time-consuming and complicated.
Which isn’t to say that the data that investors need, isn’t available from other sources. It is. There are a lot of superb, property-market data companies, government sources and tools that one can refer to, and utilise, in this space. But as the options grow, the knowledge-barrier to entry for landlords creeps ever higher.
Regulatory changes and changes to taxation meant investors were already feeling the squeeze before 2020 ran roughshod through the economy.
Suffice it to say that never before, has an understanding of what the market is doing, in detail, been this essential for people in the property business.
And yet, it is simultaneously true that swimming in a sea of options, it is harder to assess the investment value of individual property for sale than ever before.
Robert Jones is a long-term property investor, educator, mentor and director of Property Investments UK, who, for ten years, has been teaching other investors how to read property markets through an often gruelling process of extracting piecemeal information from many different data sources, to slice and dice in a spreadsheet.
Now, alongside technologist Dr Simone di Cola he has launched property xyz, a property portal with thousands of properties for sale, accompanied by all the data an investor would need to make an informed choice.
But more than that, it is a one-stop-shop for detailed research into any UK postcode so that, even for properties that are not featured on the site, there are the resources available to do due diligence on them anyway.
For a person who describes himself as sometimes, a little shy Rob has been talking to a lot of people over the last few years. Firstly, he had to talk to individual investors and investment companies to find out exactly what they would need from a platform like the one he and Simone were building.
Secondly, he talked to agents, developers, homebuilders and auction houses to not only convince them to add their stock to the platform but also to understand how they felt they could best connect with the investor community.
And thirdly, he needed to partner with the right data providers in the proptech industry to ensure that the data being presented was of the highest quality.
As Rob puts it, “Data, is not enough. Our aim was always to provide property investors with the insights they need to make intelligent investments and provide agents with better access to the investor community. Transforming the data into those insights has been the foundation of the project and for that we have been working closely with data companies across the proptech space.”
And in the future?
“Our mission is to build the world’s most intelligent property platform. We will continue to expand our data partnerships to bring richer content to the platform but our focus is very much on keeping the dialogue going with our stakeholders, property investors and agents so that we can work to supply them with everything they need.”