By Matt Gilpin, CEO Sprift Technologies
If, like me, you’re a James Bond fan, you’ll be very familiar with Daniel Craig’s debut as the suave secret agent in Casino Royale. I’ve watched it countless times, and it remains a favourite of mine in the movie franchise.
One of the most memorable scenes – and perhaps to provide some context for those of you who haven’t seen the film – is when Bond and Vesper are preparing themselves to play the part of a rogue businessman and his girlfriend at a high stakes poker game run by Le Chiffre, the arch villain that Bond has been sent to investigate and apprehend by M (played by the legendary Judy Dench with great aplomb). With a buy-in for the game of a cool ten million US dollars – the funds being provided by the British Civil Service under Vesper’s supervision - it’s imperative that Bond looks the part and doesn’t blow his cover. Vesper takes matters into her own hands, and arranges a tailored tux for Bond, presenting it to him with the words, “There are dinner jackets, and dinner jackets, and this is the latter. I need you to look like a man who belongs at that table.”
Now, I can hear you saying, what has any of that got to do with property data?
Well, to paraphrase Vesper, there is property data, and property data. And what we’ve built at Sprift is the latter. Let me explain…
When HM Land Registry released the first historical sold price dataset in 2004, it was start of opening-up UK property data, and quickly became a hot dinner-party topic. However, that’s just one of many datasets, held by a wide-range of stakeholders who all identify, catalogue and ultimately locate properties by a multitude of methods that all contribute to ‘the mess of UK address’.
When I founded Sprift in 2016, it was born out of my own frustration as a property developer and investor, that the really important information I needed upfront to assess the commercial potential of a site for development before I spent a small fortune on surveyor’s fees was so hard, if not impossible, to find quickly and easily online.
The Sprift team and I have spent the last seven years building a platform that’s based on actual data – an important point that I’ll come back to in a minute – which is aggregated from trusted and official sources, all neatly packaged up and matched by Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN), which if you are not familiar with is effectively the barcode for UK property. To date, we have on average 260 data points for over 29million residential properties in the UK, all of which our customers can literally access in seconds. When it comes to data there is no substitute for ‘time-in-the-business’ and we’ve come a long way but there’s still much we’d like to achieve as existing data sets are constantly updated and new ones released with increasing frequency.
Now, the reason that I always focus so much on ‘actual’ versus ‘modelled’ data is important but often overlooked because, to be honest, unless the person or business we’re talking to understands the key difference it’s not important to them. Then, once explained, it usually becomes very important, especially as our industry only faces increased regulation.
In simple terms, ‘actual’ data is the information straight from the official and trusted source, for example HM Land Registry, Ordnance Survey, Royal Mail or a Local Authority. We take this real data, which is scrutinised, cleansed and matched to the UPRN for that specific residential property to create a record which can then be identified either by full address and postcode or the UPRN, if the client has the latter available.
That’s very different to ‘modelled’ data because as the name suggests, it’s data that is estimated as a consequence of econometric processes, so it’s not empirical, it’s more of a conceptual approach. Modelled data does have a place when discussing property market trends or forward price projections, as an example but not when it comes to the property specific and hyper-loca data we give property professionals access to.
So, while modelled data absolutely has a place in the greater scheme of things, you probably wouldn’t want to rely on a modelled output when you were considering the EPC rating or flood risk of a specific residential property, for example. Or something else important, like whether or not a specific property is in a Conservation Area or is Listed. Or how many bedrooms it has. Those are all empirical factors, for example a property either has four bedrooms or it doesn’t. And call me old fashioned, but I’d suggest that it’s probably best not to guess at stuff like that. Which effectively, is what modelled data does somewhat.
Which brings me back to my point. There is property data which is modelled (it’s still property data and has its place, of course) and then there is property data which is actual data. Put another way, not all property data is created equal and that’s why it’s so important that we educate the sector, so that every company who requires this sort of information understands the difference and can make an informed decision in terms of the provider they use.
You can find out more about what we do and how we do it on our website: Sprift.com
Our Guide to This Year’s ESTAS...
If you hadn’t already noticed it’s ESTAS time again and this year we’re celebrating our 20th Birthday on Friday 20th October. With our headline partner Coadjute we will be celebrating the hard work of thousands of agents, conveyancers, brokers and suppliers. So here’s all you need to know about the big day…
What makes The ESTAS so special?
The ESTAS are the biggest and most prestigious awards for the property industry in the UK with just over 1,000 guests attending this year’s event. The awards are unique as the winning agents, conveyancers, mortgage brokers and suppliers are selected purely on customer service ratings provided by customers.
Can I attend?
Yes, tickets are available to all property professionals and there are still a few available. You can book tickets online at https://www.theestas.com/book-tickets
Should I attend?
Yes, it’s an inspiring day and a fantastic opportunity to network with the property industry’s finest. With all the doom and gloom around it’s a chance to remind yourself why you work in this great industry of ours and celebrate with likeminded businesses.
Where does it take place?
The ESTAS are a lunch time event and is held each year in the spectacular Great Room at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane in London (Friday 20th October this year). The lavish ballroom was originally designed as an ice rink for British Royalty. The room also hosts the BAFTAS each year. The Official ESTAS After Party is also at the hotel.
What should I wear?
It’s a lunch time event so leave the bow tie and ballgown at home. Either a smart suit or a cocktail dress is the order of the day.
The ESTAS Awards by numbers…
300,000 customer ratings completed
25,000 pounds worth of ESTAS trophies
1,000 of the UK’s top property professionals will attend
825 bottles of champagne will be consumed
500 miles of cable are used to power the show
390 manhours are used to construct the set and stage
100 waiters will keep plates and glasses full
24 chefs will cook the 4 course luncheon
20 is the number of years Phil Spencer has hosted The ESTAS
5 offices will win the ESTAS Grand Prix Award