Reflecting on a wise investment
As we conclude 2002 and reflect on an active and successful year for ASHI, you should be confident your involvement in ASHI is a wise and necessary investment. Several key accomplishments took place as we surpassed our goal of reaching the 6000 mark in our membership total by signing on 6200 Members, Candidates, Retired Members and Affiliates by October. In fact there were several enhancements and new programs that directly affect our growing membership, including the launch of ASHI’s online Membership Directory and the capability for Members to cast their vote online, as well as renew their dues and update their membership profile, all online. ASHI Officers and key staff traveled across the country attending various chapter meetings and interacting with current and prospective membership spreading the word on the value of ASHI. In conjunction with the Arizona Chapter, we hosted the largest ASHI Town Hall meeting to date with more then 100 home inspectors participating this past July. (Note: We’re coming to Washington, D.C. in July of 2003. Will the record be broken?)
Understanding and complying
After two years of extensive deliberation and review by ASHI’s Standards Committee and Legal Counsel, the ASHI Board authorized the release of responses to more then 50 Requests for Interpretation of the ASHI Standards and Code of Ethics. Several responses were published in the Reporter and all are currently available online. On a related note, we spent a considerable amount of time and effort selecting ASHI’s first-ever Director of Compliance, Jim Vykopal. An ASHI Member from St. Louis, he oversees the entire Complaint program and serves as the liaison to our Standards and Ethics activities.
Progressing in the legislative arena
In the arena of state and federal representation, our progress is substantial. We published a “white paper” version of the Society’s position on state regulation of the home inspection profession and included a comprehensive model bill for use as an example of legislation the Society would support. Nearly 8,000 copies of the “white paper” have now been distributed to our membership and to influential stakeholders through ASHI’s participation in the conferences of organizations such as the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO). Extensive review and counsel was provided throughout 2002 by ASHI staff and the Legislative Committee in response to the states that considered home inspector regulation. In addition, ASHI took a major step forward by launching the Legislative Action Center on the ASHI Web site. This grassroots contact program allows instant access for the ASHI Membership to reach their state and federal lawmakers and make their views known. We have already used it on several important immediate action items to encourage either state-specific membership or the membership as a whole to submit responses on behalf of the home inspection profession.
On a federal level, our hired lobbyist continues to represent the Society on many fronts. We submitted proposals to Congress to be considered for inclusion to the Housing Bill HR3995, and we meet face-to-face with General Accounting Officers to assist them in their ongoing study of mandatory home inspections. We established a partnership with the Appraisal Institute and submitted a proposal to HUD for necessary changes to their Homebuyer Protection Program. In response to HUD’s request for input on proposed RESPA changes, we submitted input favorable to home inspectors. We also provided important information on how home inspections can reduce incidents of property flipping to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations as well as the Senate Appropriations Committee. To further strengthen efforts on the federal front, the ASHI Board approved the establishment of ASHI’s Political Action Committee, InspectPAC, which will allow us to combine the forces of our membership in support of candidates for office who reflect our business and social views.
ASHI continues to make significant progress in the important establishment and maintenance of allied relationships. In 2002, we opened the doors to more formal discussions with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in an effort to improve the interaction between the nation’s builders and home inspectors. An important inspector-builder relations survey was launched to the membership in December, the results of which will now be shared with NAHB as we work to establish areas of commonality and mutual assistance. I have already mentioned earlier our coalition with the Appraisal Institute, and we continue our efforts to educate the membership of the National Association of Realtors® on the relevance of ASHI Inspector qualifications. We have become an official participant on the Stakeholders Development Consortium hosted by the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST) in their efforts to create National Radon Standards, and our official Memorandums of Understanding were renewed with the American Red Cross and the Institute for Home and Business Safety.
Speaking and listening
The voice of our membership continues to be heard in many different ways. This past year we were able to obtain your input on several important fronts. We conducted the “Third Edition of the Home Inspector Business Operations Study” where crucial data about home inspection businesses across the country was collected and tabulated. This one-of-a-kind study is a must have for anyone in the home inspection business. It is pleasing to see the growth in so many aspects of the typical home inspector’s business operations during the six years we have conducted the study. After we hosted the first-ever consortium of large multi-inspector firm and inspector franchise company CEOs, the Board established an “Advisory Council” for CEO participation from these segments of our membership. On several occasions, we used an online survey program to solicit input from the membership. The most prominent use was for collecting extensive data for creating the ASHI Brand. This survey program works well for all parties, therefore we will continue to use it.
The main area of focus this past year and I predict for the year ahead is the ASHI Brand. We have identified the key groups to focus our efforts on: homebuyers, home inspectors and real estate professionals. We have collected important feedback from each group to help us create the messages and to better identify the value of ASHI’s Brand. As we move into 2003 and the Board begins to finalize the specifics of ASHI’s Brand Home Inspection and the ASHI Home Inspector, exciting progress will soon follow. While some may view this work as unnecessary and slow going, ASHI is leading the way in the complete representation of the home inspection profession. As a result, your membership in ASHI will provide you with more business and greater recognition through the ASHI Brand promotion of high standards, honesty, proven experience, and a strong, growing marketing presence.
These are indeed exciting times for all of us. We must pull together as a true profession and demonstrate our expertise and ability to work toward a common goal. We are working every day to make your experience at ASHI a successful partnership that is sure to enhance your business success.
All the best to each of you in 2003!