Partners and Suppliers Michael Dent 25/04/2022

Blog: Sourcing off-market property with data

Michael Dent of NRLA partners Property Data looks at how landlords and investors can use data to identify properties and development sites that are not on the market.

At PropertyData we see the property acquisition process as one with three distinct phases:

  1. The Research phase, where you analyse the market and local areas and decide which areas match your investment criteria
  2. The Sourcing phase, where having identified a local area of interest you source specific opportunities
  3. The Due Dilligence phase, where you evaluate opportunities in detail and ensure there are no unexpected surprisees.

When in comes to Sourcing, we've long focussed on on-market sourcing. We use algorithms to identify properties advertised on the major portals that match one of the 30 different investment strategies that we've identified.

But our subscribers have often asked us to go further and create a function to source off-market properties, that meet certain criteria but are not currently offered for sale.

The perfect piece of investment land could well be out there, the logic goes, just waiting to be discovered and the owner approached with a perfect offer. But how to identify it?

How can tech help? 

Using technology to source land off-market was pioneered in the UK by the company Land Tech. More than ten years ago, ex-town planner Jonny Briton teamed up with software developer Andrew Moist to create a powerful piece of software called LandInsight, which made finding and assessing sites easier.

Since then, other companies have emerged with their own take on the same process. At PropertyData, our goal has always been to democratise the data that the big guys use, and make data-driven decision making available to all property investment and development companies an a fraction of the cost.

This month we're delivering on a key ask of our subscribers by launching an off-market property sourcing workflow on PropertyData for the first time.

The first 'beta' version of this tool allows our subscribers to define a search radius and view properties by 30 different usage categories that we have created, which cover residential, commercial and governmental and community uses.

Search results are presented in both map and table formats, and you can quickly exclude properties with development restrictions such as those within National Parks, the Green Belt, and Area of Outstanding National Beauty or a Conservation Area.

You can further refine your search by filtering properties by planning use class, minimum and maximum plot size, ownership type, internal area, energy score, or current estimated value.

What happens next? 

Our new tool produces a list of properties with all the data including full postal address and Land Registry title numbers, which can be downloaded into Excel.

This would typically be used to run a 'letter-writing' campaign whereby first contact is made with the owners of the land in order to express interest in purchasing the property.

Although response rates and the ultimate 'conversion' rate for this tactic can be quite low, when the number of property owners contacted is large enough, it's a proven method of acquiring property off-market.

We're delighted to have launched this new off-market land sourcing workflow in response to strong subscriber demand for it over the years.

Over the coming months we expect to further develop and refine our off-market land sourcing workflow by improving the features and filtering options available in the tool. As with every part of our software, we welcome comments and feedback from our subscribers.

Our aim for PropertyData remains to make it the ultimate affordable tool to help SME property landlords, investors and developers make better-informed decisions when investing and developing residential property in the UK.

Michael Dent is the founder of PropertyData, a website that helps landlords to use data and analytics to make better decisions when investing in residential property. Monthly subscriptions start at £14/month.

Michael Dent

Michael Dent Founder, Property Data

Michael Dent is the founder of PropertyData, a website that helps landlords to use data and analytics to make better decisions when investing in residential property.

See all articles by Michael Dent