Where Now for Energy Assessors and the Industry?

Many energy assessors are wondering what to do now since HIPs have been scrapped and the validity of the EPC for sales purposes has in effect been extended to 10 years. The fear is non-compliance rises due to the absence of the HIP, similar to we see in Northern Ireland and the commercial EPC market.

It has been a competitive market from soon after the implementation of the EPC legislation and professional, quality conscious assessors / businesses have always been pressurised on price by those who shall we say are less concerned with quality and service. EPC certificateThis divide has been well known amongst the rising thousands of energy assessors and the pressure to lower quality and increase output has risen since many HIP companies have opted to try and maintain their profit levels with a standalone EPC offering.  This has ultimately led many ex HIP companies to compete for volume EPC business; lowering the price to clients to secure work with expectations that energy assessors will accept a lower fee with promises of increased volume.

The industry has struggled with a large oversupply of assessors, many who have felt ‘scammed’ by unscrupulous training companies and we raised our concerns of this lucrative practice in ‘Should I train as an energy assessor?‘ and many follow up articles. Whilst we and others raised concerns little was done to tackle the issue and Property Professionals + administration seems to demonstrate this quite adequately.

However, throughout the continuing turmoil the industry has experienced there has been one seemingly solid constant; the government licensed energy assessors accreditation schemes would strive to maintain quality and push members interests forward.

Step forward the FREE EPC.

Now, I can be a sucker for a bargain but tell me something is FREE and I immediately start to experience a fishy smell from somewhere.

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Now don’t get me wrong strange incentives or schemes have been around for some time. I can even remember one notorious HIP provider offering vouchers which could be redeemed against a range of gifts but the FREE EPC offering is different, it is being promoted by accreditation schemes.

Two accreditation schemes we are aware of; NHER and BRE are promoting the ‘FREE EPC business model’ to their accredited energy assessors. There are 9 government licensed accreditation schemes and the two aforementioned schemes are often considered to be the leaders of the pack. Many of NHER’s and BRE’s members will tell you that they have remained with each respective scheme even with higher comparative fees due to their reputation and image of quality that is assumed.

So what is the deal with FREE EPCs?

In essence, the energy assessor is intended to sell Conveyancing to the client. If the client chooses to purchase Conveyancing the assessor is paid both a Conveyancing referral fee and a fee for the EPC. Simple.

Whether this is a good deal for the client or it is a conflict of interest to the role of energy assessor it remains unclear. The fact that the two accreditation schemes are seemingly endorsing the concept does go some way to answering these questions. However, many have felt that those within the energy assessor industry have been held to higher standards than other similar roles and many were upset by the change of direction and relaxation with the training of Housing Energy Advisors.

Is this the accreditation schemes fighting back on behalf of energy assessors?

For a long time we have anticipated that the assessors’ accreditation schemes would come under further pressure to maintain income and members and is something we addressed in interviews with Brian Scannell of NHER, Keith Jones of ECMK and  Philip Salaman Of Quidos. We know EPC lodgements are dropping and greater non-compliance is feared.

Will we now start to see some consolidation and mergers with the accreditation schemes?

It is an uncertain time for the industry though we can expect one thing, CHANGE.

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5 Responses to “Where Now for Energy Assessors and the Industry?”

  1. I cant see that offering a free EPC is fighting back on behalf of energy assessors.

    Surely it removes any value at all from the EPC as it is used as a relationship opener on the back of which who knows what will be sold?

    Once it is in the market place for free there will be no going back to a paid for model.

    If cross selling is suddenly OK why have we had to wait until the suspension of HIPs to get to this point?

    Because it’s the HIP providers that are making it happen haven seen all the control of the process evaporate in front of their eyes.

  2. paul Lyons Says:

    I predict or hope that this is the last desparate throes of the HIP provider/panel type organisation trying to stay in business. No offence intended to the good ones, but many of these organisations have been exploiting and driving down energy assessor fees for the last three years. Some of the worst (again, no offence intended to the good ones) have been horribly unprofessional and many have folded, owing money to assessors. NHER is a case in point – by driving down fees through their SAVA Business Exchange, they have hardly promoted standards and all they have added is another layer of admin/cost, reducing the amount received by the person doing the job.

    The fact is that many vendors dont want to deal with national panel conveyancers. Having recently sold a property, I saw that there was a big advantage in local solictors who knew and trusted each other, when problems needed to be dealt with. It was well worth the extra cost in the same way that I hope agents and vendors will feel it is worth the small extra expense of dealing with a local assessor who is motivated to provide a quality service.

    Lets not forget that the cost of the EPC is a tiny element in the overall cost of moving – estate agents fees and of course the massive rate of stamp duty, which hardly seems to get a mention.

  3. If we DEAs take up this offer it’ll mean even more time on the phone and walking the streets trying to ingratiate with Estate Agents (EA) who will be the only people left with the power to ‘award’ EPC work or, more specifically put the DEA in touch with their Clients (Purchasers). Would they want to do that anyway – isn’t it a breach of their private relationship with their Clients and would their Clients be happy about their details being given to a third party and then being subjected to a ‘cold-call’? Wouldn’t the EA need to ask permission of their Clients to pass on their information?. EAs frequently have their own ‘list’ of Solicitors so are hardly going to be sympathetic to a ‘sole-trader’ trying to enter the market. It seems like a ploy to get the DEA to do the donkeywork for solicitors. I can’t sell conveyancing – I don’t know enough about it and would quickly get out of my depth if the EA started bargaining and asking why they should change their existing arrangements. And what will those Solicitors not signed up in this scheme react? They will look very poorly on DEAs trying to take their work away and spoil the fragile relationship some of us already have with them. In addition EAs already have their own ‘tame’ DEAs, so breaking into their territory will only set DEA against DEA and a continuation of a price war. No, it’s a bad idea and I will have nothing to do with it!

  4. I don’t get this bit about the way panels work – “all they have added is another layer of admin/cost, reducing the amount received by the person doing the job”.
    The layer of cost they have added is the cost of marketing that could have been done by individual DEAa. You can spend the same amount of money marketing the services of several DEAs as you would spend on marketing for just one – but the cost per DEA is, obviously, much lower. That’s the theory, and in the begining they were probably successful because most DEAs didn’t want the trouble and expense of doing their own marketing.
    Yes, they reduced the amount received by the DEA: but if DEAs in general had been prepared to do their own marketing & admin, they wouldn’t have needed to use a panel, and the panels would have been less successful.
    But back to the original topic – where now? I don’t yet know. I don’t want to sell conveyancing either, but as a person who believes we can make a difference to global climate change, I wouldn’t mind selling whole house eco refits.

  5. I’m glad there is still a need for Energy Assessors in the UK, after that fiasco with Home Information packs.

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