Venture Property is a pioneering development and investment company based in Lincoln. The company was founded by betfair trader (and ex-NHS physiotherapist!) Ryan Carruthers and local investor Kim Stones. Their meteoric rise from property investors to successful developers was made possible by their commitment to innovation. They recognised that traditional methods of searching for development sites were terribly inefficient. For Venture Property, LandInsight has been crucial in finding and securing ‘hidden’ high margin development opportunities.
Venture Property's Upcoming Developments
In this case study we feature two of their upcoming developments, both found and assessed using LandInsight.
The first is their Desmond Court site. The demolition site, where the beloved Wildlife Pub once stood, was to be replaced by a car wash. Using LandInsight, Ryan was able to assess the site, check its planning history, local planning activity and made a better proposal. He was able to secure a deal on the site and made a successful case to the council for a 38 unit housing development. Venture Property estimates a 25% profit on the £3.7 million GDV for this site.
The second development featured is their Struton site. Using LandInsight’s powerful £/sqft tool, Ryan was able to commercially maximise the return from this site. He was able to study what kind of developments (2 bed/3 bed/flats/houses) would fetch the maximum return in the area. Venture Property estimates a 30% profit on the £3.9 million GDV for this site. On both accounts, LandInsight was crucial to finding the site, assessing its potential and providing accurate information to base negotiations on.
Challenge: Identifying Valuable Off-Market Sites
Identifying sites as an independent developer without relying on Land Agents can be difficult. The folks at Venture Property saw that the real opportunities have to be found off-market. However, bulk letter sending and ‘driving around’ searching for sites was clearly a highly inefficient way to go about this. They wanted to strategically improve the number, relevance and quality of potential developments.
Solution: Strategic Digital Search
Before LandInsight, Venture Property found approximately 15 sites a year of which 1 or 2 would be actionable. Now, they find about 200 sites of which 20-30 are actionable, in half the time. This doesn’t mean they have to develop all of them, but they can pick out those undervalued sites with the greatest upside.
“LandInsight transformed the way we search for sites.”
– Ryan Carruthers, Founder
Using LandInsight, Venture Property strategically searches for sites by location, use class, parcel area, planning status, and keyword. They instantly find all the sites owned by distressed sellers, even ones owned by subsidiary companies. They have also set automated alerts for rejected/approved/pending planning applications for their area, so that development opportunities find them. Venture Property saw the potential of Desmond Court as a site from a planning search. A quick planning history check found that the site had planning to demolish the existing building and a car wash was going to replace it. Ryan checked the planning activity in the area, which showed that Venture Property could make a better proposal to the council for a residential development.
Challenge: Managing Time Consuming Tasks
Gathering ownership, planning, comparables information from various sites Venture Property is all about efficiency, but all the information required to make the right decisions was scattered. Investing resources in assessing sites that turn out to have major red flags was not sustainable. It became essential to find a way to overcome this without having to hire someone to do time consuming leg (and click) work.
Solution: LandInsight's Suite of Efficiency Tools
Before LandInsight, 70 percent of company time went in acquiring information, now it’s instant. Resources are now spent on making big strategic decisions rather than aggregating data. LandInsight gives instant access to custom ownership, planning, property information, comparables and policy data. The data is built into a user friendly and highly practical interface that makes it extremely useful. For example, Ryan found the ownership and contact information for the Desmond Court site within seconds and bought the Land Registry documents instantly (at cost price £3). Regarding the Struton site, a quick planning history search within LandInsight revealed that a 76m road was required to fulfil planning requirements. Ryan then used the ruler and area tools within the application to make measurements and within seconds recognised that the site had potential. He also was able to see the heights of the neighbouring buildings right in the app, which indicated how high he could build on the site.
Challenge:De-risking the Development
The potential of a site largely depends on the kind of planning that can be granted on it. Not getting the expected planning permission on a site is one of the greatest risks in development. In order to understand planning risk, Venture Property had to find a way to quickly see the planning history of a site and the kind of projects that have been passed in the area. Assessing the planning potential of a site in the early stages would de-risk the development and reduce wasted resources.
Solution: Custom Planning and Comparables Reports
Developers spend so much energy into negotiations, but often spend little energy on informing their decision with concrete evidence. Venture Property recognised this gap. They use LandInsight to find the evidence that ground crucial business decisions. For example, take the decision of whether to build 2 bedroom flats vs 4 bedroom homes. Using LandInsight’s £/sqft tool Ryan was able to determine the demand for each type of property. He instantly calculated which type had a higher £/sqft in the Struton-by-Stow area. He chose to go with 3-5 bedroom family homes based on the comparables data. Making these decisions based on data made the project more commercially successful for Venture Property.
"We wouldn’t have grown this fast without LandInsight."
– Ryan Carruthers, Founder
The development also better caters to the immediate needs of local residents which helps with getting planning permissions. Another big risk in development is whether the developer will get the right planning permission. To get better insight into the planning risk of the Struton site Ryan used LandInsight to see the planning activity in the area. He found that planning for a comparable development was recently passed nearby. This gave him assurance, de-risked his acquisition and put him in a much better negotiation position.
Venture Property is an innovative, future ready development company. It’s success shows how a new developer can independently find valuable opportunities. Ryan and Kim have championed the power of LandInsight and become a force to be reckoned with in the Lincoln area.
Hemant is an industry analyst and content creator at LandInsight. As LandInsight's resident wordsmith, he authors blogs, industry reports, and case studies. Prior to PropTech, Hemant worked in the asset management sector. Surprisingly, he doesn’t like Monopoly.