Property sector “at a tipping point” says RICS report

The property industry appears to be at a tipping point as it adapts to the realities of a digital world and the exponential growth of the amount of available data concerning real estate, according to a study written by Remit Consulting and published by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. The report’s authors suggest that it is no longer enough simply to possess data; the value lies in being able to use it.

Based on a survey of property professionals from around the world, ‘The use and value of commercial property data’ report analyses the challenges faced by chartered surveyors and property professionals at a time when huge volumes of data, concerning all aspects of property and property markets, is becoming easily accessible to everyone. The report considers the ownership of data, its security and regulation. It also makes predictions and recommendations for the future of a property world full of accurate, easily available data.

The report’s key findings suggest that:

  • Those who can analyse data and bring added value to their clients will have an advantage over their competitors
  • To many in the property sector, the sharing of data remains an alien concept
  • Market data that has been available for sale has often been considered poor quality
  • Many valuers do not trust the accuracy of others’ data and are not comfortable relying on it alone
  • Chartered surveyors and other property professionals are having to use skills beyond the traditional surveying competencies
  • The value of simply owning, or having access to data, will decline

Andrew Waller of Remit Consulting said: “The property sector has, for too long, relied on relatively closed markets and cosy relationships. We are now seeing data experts from other fields, experienced in analysing data in markets not familiar to them, increasingly looking at property market data. This is giving these ‘outsiders’ an opportunity to look for value within real estate.”

Neil Webster, of Remit Consulting, co-author of the report agrees. “Technology is improving at an exponential rate, which means that information, which is currently unavailable, will rapidly become accessible by anyone.

“The future lies in having real estate information within a database that can be dissected and interpreted, rather than kept in the heads of professionals.”

Remit Consulting’s Rebecca Ewart agrees: “While market information and data has traditionally been retained in the heads of agents and brokers, as it becomes more available, surveyors and property professionals will increasingly access data in real time, allowing them to add value through analysis. The true property expert will be the one who uses data well, rather than the one who just remembers it,” she said.

Paul Bagust, Global Property Standards Director of the RICS said: “In a market where information concerning real estate is growing exponentially is stored in the cloud and is made available instantly on mobile devices, this is a very important and timely report for our members and the industry as a whole.

“What is clear is that, as a profession, we need to attract graduates, and members, with experience and backgrounds in data science. We also need to develop data standards for the property industry that are globally applicable and open-sourced.

“More and more, increasingly accurate, data is becoming available from third-party suppliers and while there is no doubt that owning a dataset of transactions is advantageous, comprehensive property data from a range of different sources will rapidly become available to everyone. That might take two, five or even 15 years. What is certain is that to prosper, chartered surveyors will need to adapt to a market dominated by data.”