In April, RICS published the insight paper The use and value of commercial property data, which looks at the growing field of data analysis. The property professions are at a tipping point, it suggests, and it is no longer enough simply to possess data; the value lies in being able to use it. Those who can analyse data add value and offer a competitive advantage.
Increasingly accurate data is becoming readily available, and while there is no doubt that owning a data set on real-estate transactions is advantageous, comprehensive property data from a range of different sources will rapidly become available to everyone. Although this might take two, five or even 15 years, what is certain is that, to prosper, chartered surveyors need to adapt their skill set to make the most of a market dominated by data.
Leaders in this field are already using data collected from real estate and the built environment to change the way they charge for services, improve local services and track the intentions of their tenants and customers. Surveyors thus need to be aware how important data is, and how using it effectively can benefit the property sector.
Benefits can only be achieved by sharing data, which remains an alien concept to many. Results from a survey of property professionals that was carried out by Remit Consulting in June 2018 showed that 40 per cent believe the reluctance to share data is the biggest barrier to property performance and to opening up information for wider use.
Those who can analyse data and bring added value to their clients will have an advantage over their competitors, and the value of simply owning, or having access to, data will decline. Property professionals are already having to use skills beyond those traditionally associated with surveying – Data management is already a mandatory competency for the APC – so the sector needs to attract data analysts and scientists as well.
Nevertheless, many valuers do not trust the accuracy of others' data and are not comfortable relying on this alone, and therefore databases need to be improved. The sector must develop globally applicable and open-source data standards. As a profession, we should also attract graduates, and new members, with backgrounds in data science. We need to be extracting value from data and changing processes where necessary to ensure consistent work that meets the standards set by RICS.
Remit Consulting recently helped a property company to find a system that helped to analyse available government land for development in England and Wales, so as to identify suitable building sites more quickly.
The UK Land Registry has opened up its data, and third-party software houses have packaged it into easy-to-use formats. Having analysed the data, our client worked with one such software supplier to develop systems that automated much of the site selection and planning process.
Rebecca Ewart is assistant consultant at Remit Consulting LLP firstname.lastname@example.org
Related competencies include: Big data, Legal/regulatory compliance, Strategic real estate consultancy