The largest and most popular property portal in the UK launched 20 years ago, setting the standard for portals ever since. The model is straightforward enough: a user with a postcode or the name of a town can search an area-radius for available properties on the platform. Then they narrow their search by price, the number of bedrooms etc.. And when they find something they would like to pursue further they can contact the agent, managing the sale, directly.
It’s a model that works well for would-be homeowners and tenants, who are, after all, the target market for such websites. But for property investors, buy-to-let landlords and property investment companies, this standard set-up is far less helpful.
The problem is two-fold:
Firstly, investors are often location-agnostic, which is to say they care more about the profitability of their investment than they do about where that property is. Secondly, the portals are set up with homeowners and tenants in mind, meaning that the kinds of information that an investor would be interested in, are not immediately or usefully supplied. As such, there are thriving online communities of investors, trading in tips and tricks on how to find the best locations, read the local markets, draw up shortlists of investment opportunities and do proper due diligence on properties they might have in mind, to buy.
This creates a labyrinth; an excess of complicated and time-consuming options, for those in the industry. And far from getting easier, as time goes on, these processes are becoming more technical and more difficult, as greater amounts of (often badly curated) data floods into the marketplace.
It’s a problem that Robert Jones understands well. As a property investor and landlord of several decades, he’s been an educator in the property investment space for the last 8 years, teaching others how to navigate these waters.
“We’ve got no shortage of property market data”, he says. “The problem for investors is that it’s been increasingly getting harder to pull actionable insights from that data. And for the rest of 2020, moving into 2021, it’s going to be really important that people understand the markets, they are putting their money into.”
Which is why, over the last two years, Robert and co-founder and technologist Dr Simone di Cola have been building Property.xyz, “a property platform, made by investors, for investors”, which was launched last summer and has big plans for the future.
As Robert puts it, “The data revolution has really only just started and companies with a vision of how to transform the information at their disposal, into something useful, find themselves empowered to make a meaningful difference in their respective industries, like never before. This is our vision, to create the world’s most intelligent property platform.”
On the surface of it, property xyz presents in much the same way as the other portals. You can search by postcode or area for properties for sale but there’s more going on under that idea. The big difference being, alongside each listing is a wealth of information that would-be landlords need: the area’s capital growth, yield, market activity and demographic breakdowns to name but a few data points. And more, the site lends itself as a research tool for nationwide postcodes: meaning that, even if a property is not listed for sale on the site, investment due diligence can be done on it anyway.
As Robert goes on to say, “What we have done and what we will go on to do is grounded in our aim to provide useful, actionable information for landlords.
‘We couldn’t do that without the right data partnerships. Proptech is still small and young and there is a fantastic strength of community, sharing a common goal to make the property industry smarter, stronger and faster. We couldn’t be more pleased to be a part of it.
‘But the real strength to this project lies in the dialogue we are having with stakeholders, investors and agents over what they need us to do. What distinguishes deep data from big data is quality and relevance, over scale. We’re not aiming to go big, we’re aiming to go deep, in service of the community we belong to.”