Sam Caulton Re Leased CFO

COMMENT | Make the most of live property data

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One of the business practices that has shifted up a gear in the wake of the pandemic is the role of data in identifying opportunities, writes Sam Caulton of Re-Leased.

The pandemic has thrust the benefits of pulling together quality data and acting on it into the spotlight – this is obvious when talking about public health, but has also come to light for many businesses over the past 18 months, who have realised the importance of data in navigating a crisis.

Most working in property accept that when it comes to utilising digital technology the sector has lagged behind other industries.

Thankfully this situation is changing. The pandemic has forced property firms to look at what digitisation can do for them, not least by accelerating better data collection and analysis practice. Landlords increasingly recognise that being in possession of better-quality data and using it means they are able to make better decisions.

Understanding how an asset is performing on a day-to-day basis is now crucial, especially when there is uncertainty around who is in what building and when. Then there is the question of whether tenants are paying on time, or if they are paying any rent at all, as well as how long they have left on their leases, and whether they are at risk of moving on.

Real-time information can help identify occupation and payment trends quickly, meaning action can be taken swiftly if necessary. This will be of enormous benefit when managing a wide-ranging portfolio of assets.

For a number of years, we have been using this kind of data to help landlords make the most of the information relating to their portfolios. Aggregating information from across all 35,000 leases on our books also allows us access to a pool of what we call Big Data, which can demonstrate trends across the entire commercial property sector, therefore providing another vital tool to both our customers and the wider industry.

For example, our latest data showed significant variation in levels of commercial rent collection for the September quarter rent day. Some sectors performed significantly better than others, whilst regionally there were also large discrepancies. Landlords with a UK-wide portfolio may have seen their assets in the Midlands and North West perform well, with 25% of rents due collected on quarter day, whilst rent collection in London remained subdued, at just 10%.

Having the support of a team of experts will make the task of collecting and interpreting that data a much more effective exercise.

The cloud can play a vital role too, not least in helping monitor a portfolio remotely. Those landlords with access to live, accurate and easily accessible data will stay ahead of the curve.

Live and benchmarked data is especially important considering the scale of investment and commitment to new projects being undertaken by firms. This data will afford the sector the opportunity to re-rate more often and obtain rental reversions on a three-year basis.

Key to success in these areas will be the ability to show value. The scale of documentation, transactions, discussions and so on, will become clear.

In the ‘old days’, commercial real estate used to be merely a financial transaction, locking in an income stream via a long-term rental agreement. This would involve the landlord selling a 20-year lease to a tenant and then effectively paying them little heed until renewal.

That model has changed. Like many businesses, landlords need to do more for their customers. They need to be proactive, with account management and customer success teams, servicing clients and upselling products.

Having access to live and benchmarked data is going to be so much more important in this new world, not least as the old ‘9 to 5’ becomes a thing of the past, and it becomes even more important for landlords to keep abreast of what is going on across the entirety of their portfolios.

Re-Leased is a commercial property management platform, with an experienced analytical team that understands the marketplace and can absorb a broad range of datasets, delivering accurate and informative results to help businesses manage their asset base.

  • Sam Caulton is chief finance officer at Re-Leased

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