Year of the Horse…

The lunar year has begun and 2014 is the Chinese Year of the Horse.  The horse is part of the 12 year cycle that makes up the Chinese zodiac (as well as the 3.40 median auction stakes over 6f at Wolverhampton).  These interact with the five elements; wood, metal, fire, water and earth.  To give it its full title, 2014 is the year of the wood horse, replacing 2013’s water snake.  Those who know about such things foresee 2014 as being a ‘fast’ year, with astrologers seeing wood as providing fuel for the energetic horse sign. If one should try hard enough there is a cheap joke in there somewhere about supermarket ‘beef’ burgers on the barbeque; but that would be very 2013.  Far eastern philosophy and astrology aside, 2014 does retain some of the characteristics of 2013, (and all years preceding); namely being the year of the chancer and make a quick buck merchant.  This was perfectly exemplified by the experiences of a new vendor who last week asked several questions on the much misinformed and misguided subject of EPC’s. Energy Performance Certificates (EPC’s) are the last remaining vestige of the ill-conceived Home Information Packs (Hips) that were introduced in 2007 and then dumped in 2010 – not a moment too soon may I add.  The aforementioned gentleman who has chosen Cheshire and Co to market and hopefully sell his property had been told by another agent that as he was putting his house on the market for a second time within a two year period, he would require a new EPC and of course the said agent would be more than happy to organise the necessary EPC assessor.  The cost of this would be added to the vendor’s fee and would be in the region of £150.  To hit the repeat button on last week’s blog, may I just say, what a load of bollocks.  For the purposes of elucidation, the following is factually correct as regards EPC’s:

  •  EPC ‘S are needed whenever a property is bought, sold or rented.
  •  There are some exceptions, e.g. places of worship but a ‘normal’ domestic property requires one.
  •  An EPC show the energy efficiency and the environmental impact of the property.
  •  An EPC is valid for ten years and can be used time and again within this period.
  •  Every EPC is given a unique reference number that can then be found on the EPC register.
  •  An EPC will show the top actions that can betaken to save money/make the property more efficient, plus a recommendations report on the said suggested improvements.
  •  Neither the vendor or the landlord are in any way obliged to carry out these works.
  •  If an EPC isn’t available, a landlord must instruct an EPC assessor and this must be done within 7 days (although this can be extended up to 28 days) of the date the property was first put on the market.
  •  A copy must be made available to every prospective tenant and a copy must be given to a tenant before he/she signs the tenancy agreement.

An EPC is a necessity and like many necessities of life, a complete waste of time and ink.  But you have to have one.  The grading of a property is on a scale of A-G with most properties coming in at about a D or E (rather like my O-level results). This is reflected in a pretty chart that is coloured red, yellow and green.  Anyone who has bought a fridge or a washing machine in recent years will have seen the traffic light coloured stickers on the said appliance.  Has anyone actually ever read and understood what the pretty chart means? Probably not.  Has a poor grading ever stopped you buying the fridge?  Thought so.   Does the fact that one brand of fridge is more energy efficient than another but does not match your kitchen/your wife hates it make you more likely to buy it?  I guessed as much.

Any professional agent should be able to recommend any number of domestic energy assessors to provide you with an EPC and this should not cost three figures. 

Finally, there was an example this week in politics of  how changing the aesthetics of something does not dramatically increase its value.  Danny Alexander, MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey and Chief Secretary to the Treasury is apparently being groomed to make a bid for the leadership of his party.  Success could in turn lead to his competing for the hottest seat of them all.  In an effort to make him more appealing to the electorate he is increasingly being seen without his trademark Nana Mouskouri horn-rimmed glasses and is instead sporting rather trendy contact lenses.  How exactly does this make him better qualified to lead either his party or – god forbid – the country? Just as a two bedroom mid-link with no off-road parking will always be limited to a certain price bracket because of what it hasn’t got, (despite it having a £30,000 bathroom and a bespoke kitchen with real Italian marble), a ginger rodent from the I’m not really sure party will always be limited in his appeal to the voting public, facial furniture or not.