Opportunities from the Property Professional Show
I have just spent two days at the Property Professional show in Birmingham, where it was great to meet lots of members and speak to people interested in joining our schemes.
I am still bemused by some other scheme’s take on the industry. I thought this was an important profession with a serious role to play addressing the duel problems of climate change and energy supply, and it's insulting to see that in the 21st Century people still feel it necessary to dress young women in inappropriate clothing in order to ‘make a point’. Call me old fashioned, but I just don’t think that hot pants and high heeled boots is appropriate attire for a professional environment.
Talking to people over the course of the two days I realised that I have one fundamental shortcoming – I do not possess the ability to see into the future. Oh, for a crystal ball and to see where we would all be in a week, a month and six months time. But this is not a power I have yet mastered – though not for want of trying. I have read and re-read Harry Potter but still cannot master those spells! I think it might be something to do with the ingredients – they are not readily available at the village store.
Click for a larger view.
Adding value to the EPC
For my sins, I had to give a presentation. I gave it 4 times and I managed to overrun for 3 of those. People who know me know I can get quite passionate! Consequently, my throat is feeling a bit rough as I type this. My remit was ‘Adding Value to the EPC’.
Undertaking this sort of exercise is a good discipline – it makes you pause and take stock. In preparation I took a step back and gave some serious consideration to the issues facing the Domestic Energy Assessor.
My starting point was to consider the parties involved. I came to the rapid conclusion that there are a large number of players in the process, often with very conflicting ambitions and requirements. Even homeowners can be sellers or buyers and each group tends to have very different personal drivers.
Click for a larger view.
If you spend too long thinking about all of these parties there could be a tendency to get quite depressed. But there are some positives to grasp.
Emphasising the positives
First of all, DEAs are working with a proven asset rating system (SAP and RDSAP). I admit that RDSAP in particular can be a bit crude; not everyone is happy with the idea of standardised occupancy for example, and home owners can get quite worked up when their own fuel bills do not match the indicative costs on the EPC. But it is a tool for comparing 'apples and pears' – a 1930s semi with a modern detached house for example.
The second thing to recall is that EPCs are rooted in European legislation. It is not clear in my mind quite what the new regime thinks of Europe (but then I cannot get over the image on the news last night of Nick Clegg sandwiched between David Cameron and Teresa May). As the new government beds in we will understand more how EPBD stands.
The third thing to remember is that DEAs are in an enviable position. They are in at the beginning of the process. The DEA is usually the second person to visit the property after the seller or landlord has put the property on the market.
And the DEA is (or at least should be!) an energy expert with transferable skills!
These things are all very positive, but, and it is a very big but, there is a problem! I spent the weekend before the Birmingham show racking my brains about this, and I think that the DEA is unique in that he/she has customers who:
- Don’t see what they pay for - I don’t think the vast majority of the public see the EPC. I know that our research says that they do (our ‘Seizing the Opportunity’ report) – but I just don’t believe it. I think what they see is the A-G graph and that is what they think the EPC is!
- Don’t understand it if they do see it – if all they are seeing is the A-G graph and no information on the measures on how to make the energy rating better, what hope is there that they will understand it?
- Don’t care – Well, sellers don’t care, they are leaving after all, and I also don’t believe that most private landlords don’t care either since they don’t pay the bills. I suppose I might grudgingly admit that a few buyers might care, but I think that the main driver for them is location, location, location – and what they pay for the property. I also admit that some tenants might care, but more in the context of what it costs to heat the property rather than the energy rating.
- Or if they do care, cannot act on it – I am thinking of tenants here. If the landlord won’t fix the hole in the roof, what chance is there that he/she will lag the loft!
This is all a bit gloomy, but before you chuck in the towel, stop for a moment. Think of the opportunities. They do exist!
The opportunities we have
In summary I believe that the following opportunities are available (though I admit that not all are easily accessed).
- Climate change and Energy shortages – these are strategic issues for UK plc – particularly Energy shortages
- Renewable technologies and Feed In Tariffs (visit our Sun Switch website for more information on FITs)
- The DEA can add additional services and works in an industry that needs information (after all, conveyancing is about collecting information)
- There are increased pressures on estate agents
I will come back to these opportunities in later blog posts, but for now, I will finish with a major change that goes live with the upgrade to NES one today. If DEAs are to gain proper recognition and the EPC is to be recognised for the useful document that it is, then we need to make a start by getting it under the nose of the customer! They need to see it, not just the A-G graph, but the whole EPC! And they need to understand it.
This is where our new ‘wrapper’ comes in. At the push of a button (in IT terms anyway) you can now embed the whole EPC into a professional report document, which includes information about what the EPC is and what it isn’t. What you do with that professional report is then up to you. You could print it out and give copies to the agent and the homeowner, you could email it to the homeowner and agent. But don’t do nothing. Make an effort to get the EPC under the customers nose, because only if we work together to raise the profile of the EPC do we stand any chance of building upon the opportunities that are emerging.
The views expressed in this blog article are the personal views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of National Energy Services. When submitting a comment, please be aware of the guidelines provided in our website terms and conditions.