Is there a whiff of change in the air?
First thing Monday morning I tuned into Twitter, checked my emails and my diary – so far, so routine. But then, over the second cup of coffee, something dawned on me. I don’t think it was the caffeine kicking in - but I wonder if there is just a faint whiff of change in the air.
First of all I heard news via Twitter that My Home Move has had a busy start to Monday morning with lots of conveyancing instructions coming through from their agents. Then I see, again via Twitter, that higher loan-to-value mortgages are making a steady return to the mortgage market. This will be welcome news to borrowers with small deposits, particularly first time buyers who have struggled to find products which meet their needs. Next an email drops into my personal inbox from one of my ‘pet’ charities, Friends of the Earth, asking me to sign a joint letter to Chris Huhne asking him to introduce legislation to ensure that private rented properties meet a basic standard of energy efficiency from 2016.
This all follows on from a very interesting previous week when, time and again, I heard the message that EPCs are not fit for purpose (building owners and occupiers cannot rely on them), that Green Deal will require more tailored advice to home owners and that Holiday Lets are going to require EPCs from 30th June.
Sifting through all of that, and I have merely skimmed the surface, there is a lot to take in, so why do I feel that there could be a bit of a change coming?
Well, the first sign of encouragement was the message that EPCs could not be relied upon. I know that feels counter-intuitive when NHER and SAVA are inherently about quality, but the reason for my bullish optimism here is twofold. First of all, that message came loud and clear from representation from the property sector itself (the British Property Federation and the Residential Landlords Association), the implication being that they want to be able to trust the content of EPCs and DECs. Second, and more importantly, it suggests that, at last, rather than just complying with the letter of the, law people are actually looking at the EPC. (This has been my complaint for a long time – that people were just not getting to see the EPC.)
Leading from that, and I admit that I am of a ‘glass half full’ disposition, must surely come recognition of the value the content of EPCs and then the days of the reverse auction must surely be numbered!
And could the ‘marketed sales’ market be improving? If conveyancing instructions are increasing, that suggests that buyers are buying, sellers are selling and there will be more encouragement for new properties to come onto the market, meaning more EPCs. Looking elsewhere around twitter land, the messages are mixed (thanks Henry Pryor for telling us that the chances of selling this year have reduced and that less than 40% of sellers will find a buyer!), but My Home Move is suggesting that the build up to a buoyant spring market has begun! And who am I to disagree with Stephen Hayter?
Meanwhile, the various pieces of the Green Deal jigsaw, if not exactly ‘falling into place’ are at least beginning to emerge. It seems the EPC, or an enhanced version of it, will be the starting point for Green Deal measures. That takes us back to the quality issue again – if advise is going to come on the back of the EPC, then the EPC has to be fit for purpose! Watch this space – as more information on ‘The Green Deal’ emerges, we will let you know.
So that is why I was sensing a whiff of change. I agree, some of the ‘shoots of recovery’ (to borrow that well known phrase) are very delicate and will need a bit of tlc over the coming months, but let us hope the faint whiff turns into heady perfume.
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