2007 – A tough year … with some great accomplishments
2007 was a year of ups and downs. The housing market declined further during the year. New home sales have dropped, sales of existing homes have dropped and the cost of the homes is fluctuating and uncertain, leaving many people to put off a move to sometime in the future. Because of this, our membership numbers declined. We managed to retain most of our ASHI Certified Inspectors, but lost a significant number of Associate members. Our retention of Associate members was only about 50 percent, but we continue to attract new inspectors in spite of the housing market.
Search for a new executive director
In August, our long-time executive director Rob Paterkiewicz, resigned to accept a new position. At the July Board meeting, the Board appointed me the acting executive director and appointed a search committee, chaired by Immediate Past-President Joe Corsetto. Shortly thereafter, the Search Committee approved Transition Guides, Inc. to conduct a national search for a new ED. As of this writing, the committee has a number of promising candidates and will begin to conduct interviews in the not-to-distant future. In the meantime, your professional organization continues to promote your interests and look for ways to improve your benefits.
New ASHI Web site
At this writing, a new Web site portal for home inspectors is nearing completion. This new section will include improved graphics, will be easier to navigate and will enable you to find the information you are seeking more easily. It will also include newer and more user-friendly discussion boards.
We are known on the Hill
ASHI is well known and respected on Capitol Hill. This year, we were actively involved in the subprime mortgage issue. Shortly after the issue broke and discussions began in Congress, ASHI anticipated the potential for market and government overreaction and sent a letter to Congress recommending a reasonable approach, recognizing the need for some manner of regulatory reform, but also cautioning against overly restrictive reforms that may further depress the home sales market. The letter was circulated among ASHI's closest housing relationships in Congress and mirrored concerns of other realty interests with influence on Capitol Hill. Congress heeded our recommendations. Later, Congress introduced legislation proposed by ASHI, HR4776, the Consumer Protection Home Inspection Counseling Act, which would greatly improve training for HUD housing counselors to help homebuyers obtain home inspections. Supporters on HR4776 will seek co-sponsors and other support in 2008.
ASHI enlisted the help of a consultant to guide your Board of Directors and staff on a new strategic plan for 2008 and beyond. During the summer, our consultants surveyed many individual home inspectors, both members and non-members, to learn more about what home inspectors need and want in the way of products and services that ASHI can provide. We learned that you need more readily available education that can be obtained online and at a lower cost. We heard concerns about the quality and cost of our annual conference. We hear you and thank you for your comments. Our new strategic plan, when finalized, will include more online education. We are also investigating the possibility of offering quarterly educational conferences in different areas of the country instead of one large, annual conference. This will make it easier for you to get quality education closer to home without spending a lot of money. Look for reports in upcoming issues of the Reporter and monthly newsletters.
ASHI is expanding its reach and developing important relationships with other organizations. During this year, we have developed relationships with several related organizations. We have entered into an agreement with CMC Energy to act as CMC’s credentialing arm for home inspectors. You can become certified in residential energy audits that will help you to expand your business and the services you offer, thus increasing your income. We are working to develop a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indoor Air Quality Association to cooperate on areas of mutual interest. In addition, we have entered into relationships with such organizations as Special Asset Management, Kudzu.com and Grip Inspections. When you register with each of these organizations, you will expand your business and may increase your income.
One of our members’ biggest concerns is finding affordable health insurance for themselves and their families. You are not alone in your concerns. Nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies are all feeling the pinch of rising health insurance premiums. It is particularly difficult for small businesses, which are what most of you are in. ASHI has recently signed an agreement with Empyrean to help you find more affordable health and disability insurance. Empyrean will search the market and provide options for health insurance that you cannot obtain on your own. There is more information and links on our Web site.
A meeting was held in September by the The American Society for Testing Methodologies (ASTM), which proposed developing national standards for home inspections. This would directly undercut ASHI’s efforts to build the integrity, independence and professionalism of the home inspection profession and would harm those inspectors who believe that the profession should seek the highest levels of expertise rather than regress to the mean in a likely ASTM homogenization of the competing industry standards. Several home inspection organizations were present to comment on ASTM's proposed standards, including NAHI, NACHI, CREIA and TAREI. ASHI officers and directors opposed the proposed creation of ASTM inspection standards because such standards would dilute or replace existing industry standards that have been carefully crafted over time, standards that are based on the practical experience of untold numbers of professional home inspectors. The members were heard and ASTM was defeated.
The last part of the Smart Track educational modules on the Web site went live in the summer. This was the last part of the existing online education module offered by ASHI. More modules for online education are in the planning stage.
Despite the changes this past year, we have made great strides in association offerings, and we look forward to what 2008 and our strategic plan may bring our way. We continue to keep you, our members, uppermost in our minds and will strive to improve the products and services available to you. We thank you for your continued membership and wish you the best in 2008.