How big data can help with affordable housing

FossIQ head of real estate Steve Bushby (left) and head of technology Sam Drummond
FossIQ head of real estate Steve Bushby (left) and head of technology Sam Drummond

A just-launched big data software platform is promising to help affordable and co-housing developers easily locate appropriate sites, including those currently off-market.

Fintech startup FossIQ has created a platform that can help identify appropriate development sites (whether on or off-market) and auto-generate feasibility assessments in a matter of minutes.

The platform has aggregated data on every one of Sydney’s 1.19 million lots, including characteristics such as sales history, cadastral mapping, regional boundaries, zoning, planning rules, floor space ratios, and proximity to mass transit and amenities.

Users can input criteria important to them, select appropriate sites and then view financial feasibility, development margins and potential purchase price. The platform is then able to connect with professionals to perform off-market purchases.

While only data for Sydney is currently available, work has started on mapping Melbourne, where there has been a lot of interest, according to FossIQ head of real estate Steve Bushby. Brisbane and Auckland are also “interesting” opportunities.

Using the service comes at a cost, with developers and councils the main targets, but the company is also offering “a significant discount” to not-for-profits and affordable housing providers, Mr Bushby said. He told The Fifth Estate a discount of 40 per cent on the platform’s subscription model would be available for projects under $50 million.

The tool could be helpful for those progressing alternative housing models like Nightingale, where a key constraint is finding and purchasing suitable land in inner and middle ring suburbs. Here high land prices and competition from big developers can make obtaining a good site challenging.

Urban Apostles’ Jason Twill, who has been involved with Nightingale Housing, said the tool promised to foster these more equitable development models.

“When your chief aim is to reduce overall costs of living in cities like Sydney by allowing project savings to flow through to purchasers, every penny counts,” he said.

“FossIQ supports emerging models like Nightingale Housing by dramatically reducing the cost and time spent on site analysis and acquisition.”

Mr Bushby said providing access to off-market opportunities to people such as Mr Twill was “critical” because the best societal outcome was generally not “the highest and best use financially”.

He said the platform could help affordability across the entire market too.

“In a city such as Sydney, inefficiencies and costs associated with locating sites are passed on to buyers, furthering compounding our well-known affordability issues,” Mr Bushby said.

“We connect developers to sites in a matter of seconds and provide intricate details that would take a researcher or traditional real estate agent weeks to find, if at all.”

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