SearchLand has a clear mission: to transform the way property professionals source sites.
It might sound simple, but my background has shown me that site sourcing is yet to undergo the same ‘digital transformation’ that the wider property industry has experienced.
For me, a degree in planning and real estate was followed by time as a land and planning graduate, a geographic information system (GIS) consultant, and a planning policy officer. One theme stood out throughout the years I applied myself in these various roles: there was an abundance of data, but it was not being used effectively.
Mining valuable data
Data is gold – this phrase has become something of a cliché over the past decade. But it is undeniably true when it comes to site sourcing.
There is a huge amount of data available throughout the planning and development sector – from who owns what land and how much they paid for it, through to the number of planning applications submitted to a local council and how many were approved. However, there are several challenges when trying to mine this data for nuggets of valuable information.
Firstly, you have to access data from many disparate sources. Secondly, you have to analyse it and make sense of it. Thirdly, you have to bring it all together to create a data-driven site sourcing strategy.
I saw first-hand that, for the most part, overcoming these three challenges was too complicated, time-consuming and expensive for many individuals and businesses trying to source sites, be they agents, architects or developers.
SearchLand to the rescue
In 2020, myself and Arthur Goodhart came together to co-found SearchLand, with Archie Kennedy-Dyson joining in 2021. The three of us have very different professional backgrounds, spanning as they do site sourcing, planning, technology, computer science, software development and data analytics.
It means we strike a balance of skills and knowledge that has allowed us to bring a complete platform to market. One that, as mentioned above, is finally achieving the goal of dragging site sourcing into the 21st Century.
So, how does it work?
In short, SearchLand is an easy-to-use platform – or a software-as-a-service solution, if you will – that enables users to access and visualise all the data they need to make informed decisions about potential sites. What’s more, we offer fair and transparent pricing.
Early adopters of SearchLand include SME developers, architects, estate agents and property investors – anyone trying to navigate the various troubles involved in generating or researching a site.
Crucially, SearchLand makes the process of seeking out the perfect plot of land within a highly localised, regional, or even national scope fast and intuitive. Multiple data sets can be layered on top of one another and toggled on or off, painting a clear picture of the best sites to pursue.
Our datasets include OS OpenZoomstack, AddressBase, Land Registry and council planning information. These have been integrated with our core map-based GIS model in such a way that someone sourcing a site can filter a list of thousands of potential options to just a select handful in a few clicks.
Letter sending made easy
But that’s not all. SearchLand takes the site sourcing process one step further by allowing users to quickly and easily contact the landowners.
This was a key focus for the company, given so many organisations refer to their ‘pipeline’ as being full, when in reality they have found many sites but not contacted the owner. That’s the equivalent of finding where the oil is but not drilling.
Clearly, a bottleneck forms – sites are sourced but it takes too long to then reach out to all the different owners, typically by sending a letter. Again, SearchLand has the answer.
We have an automated letter sending feature, which enables users to directly engage with the landowner through our platform by sending a series of time-triggered letters in just a few clicks.
Join the SearchLand revolution
Throughout our first year, the SearchLand platform has been constantly refined and improved. Today, we boast a tech solution that offers immense value to developers, architects, agents and investors.
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I was recently asked this question whilst on a property panel discussing how to use data to guide investments decisions in property.