The data gatherers of the property world (a tribe of which I am a proud member) work away behind the scenes collecting data points, generally left to our own devices until we miss a deadline…. but times are changing! We are suddenly on speed dial and people are willing – shock, horror – to pay for data they would not have in the past. The credit crunch has caused a demand for more data, more benchmarks, more secondary/niche/specialist figures… and all available more rapidly than before…The industry is realising that quality data is essential to making profitable property decisions, be it for investment purposes or a corporate looking at its balance sheet. Sir Philip Green said as much in his Efficiency Review, commenting that the government’s millions of pounds in property waste was ‘mainly due to poor data and process’.
However, escalating demand for data could affect quality – after all you get what you pay for!
It may be difficult to see from outside the industry, but gathering like-for-like, accurate data is far from simple! Prime rents and yields should surely be easily comparable, allowing a blue chip company from the US to decide where would be most cost effective for a new office. Not so – a building that is Grade A in Budapest would probably not be Grade A in Frankfurt. Obvious for some, but not for all… With the increasing appetite for data on niche markets, secondary locations and specialist property, it becomes progressively harder to collect sample groups that are actually representative of difficult to define sectors – and it is next to impossible to create historic series!
How do we move forward? We continue to collect, aggregate and analyse data, and on more sectors and locations than before. But now a ‘data gatherer’ has a wider role, requiring extremely developed skills at prying data out of reluctant agents. So – if you are an agent, we will be expecting your call, but don’t be surprised if we ask you just as many questions as you ask us!