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How sharing information could help the property industry’s heaviest hitters in today’s challenging times

04 December 2020 Scott Wilson
Scott Wilson

Pooling data may have big benefits for firms looking to get a more accurate picture of their portfolios in a COVID-disrupted world, argues Scott Wilson.

To say it’s been a torrid few months for companies in the property sector would be something of an understatement. Since the COVID crisis began, mass migration to remote working, eviction moratoriums for residential tenants and a public call for a new rent model, by the chairman of Australia’s largest retail tenant, have created an unprecedented degree of uncertainty and risk — and pushed many organisations into unfamiliar terrain.

That risk has been the catalyst for a wave of activity in the valuations sphere as investors consider, recalculate and reposition their portfolios to reflect the new norm.

That revaluation exercise is unlikely to be a one-time event, given the pandemic is far from over. As economies continue to reopen and close, in response to fluctuating case numbers, it seems set to become a continuous process and one which decision-makers will increasingly want to see effected at speed.

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The power of integration

Dealing with known unknowns and unknown unknowns is difficult, as former US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld famously attested in 2002. Getting a handle on the present and developing a realistic forecast for the upcoming months and years calls for extended scenario planning, considering the many “what ifs” the COVID environment continues to throw up.

That’s highlighted the need for tighter integration of property valuation platforms with other systems used in the analytical process. They’ve historically been standalone, but there’s no reason they have to be.

For that reason, we’re evaluating our product roadmap to determine how to integrate the Forbury solution with other best-of-breed programs in use across the property industry. The end goal? The ability to streamline systems and processes and carry out complex data analysis faster and more easily.

Collective benefits of a community approach to data

There’s also a growing case for the pooling of information across the property industry.

At heart, valuing a property is a sophisticated data aggregation, validation and information comparison exercise which calls for the benchmarking of one’s formula against those of others, to produce a bottom-line figure that’s realistic and defensible.

Yes, allowing competitors access to what’s historically been regarded as the crown jewels may be an idea that goes against the grain, but the potential benefits for companies prepared to share and share alike are significant.

De-identified and aggregated by a trusted third party, a deep pool of current property data would enable participating companies to undertake comparisons more easily and arrive at results which more accurately reflect the market. That could represent a significant competitive advantage for owners seeking to safely navigate the uncharted waters into which the COVID crisis has thrust the industry at large.

At Forbury, we’re keen to explore this and other benefits of a more joined-up approach to data, in conjunction with fellow stakeholders who share our vision of an interconnected future.

Different thinking for a post-COVID world

Few industries face greater uncertainty than the property sector, as the COVID crisis continues to unfold. But with challenge comes opportunity, for companies that are alive to the possibilities rigorous exploitation of data can open up, in today’s interesting times and beyond. 

Scott Wilson is the CEO of Forbury.

How sharing information could help the property industry’s heaviest hitters in today’s challenging times
Scott Wilson reb
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