January, 2019
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Are These Violations of the ASHI Code of Ethics?


Question: I have the opportunity to have my company featured on a website for real estate agents in my area. I have the choice of competing with other companies for the business and if I get the business, I pay a flat fee of $35 to the company that created the website, not the real estate agent. Or, I can be the only company on the agent’s website and pay $25 per month per agent to the website company, regardless of the number of leads I get and number of leads I close. Once again, the money for these leads goes to the website design company, not to the real estate agent. I see this as a lead–generation program, just as any other form of advertising or marketing of my company. Can you give me the ASHI Code of Ethics Committee’s seal of approval for this program?

Interpretation by the ASHI Code of Ethics Committee: If a home inspector is paying a marketing company for setting up and featuring home inspection services on a website and is not paying a real estate licensee, it is no different from advertising in a newspaper or magazine that focuses on real estate. If the real estate licensees involved with the transaction do not receive any form of compensation, directly or indirectly, by the home inspector, there is no conflict. If an advertising fee is paid, regardless of whether or not the inspector gets the inspection job, and regardless of the outcome of the inspection, there is no conflict.

Can a home inspector de-winterize a foreclosed home so they can inspect it or is that considered “helping” the house pass inspection? At the end of the inspection, no one is going to re-winterize the home, so it will be subject to freezing.

Interpretation by the ASHI Code of Ethics Committee: The question posed has nothing to do with the ASHI Code of Ethics. If an inspector chooses to de-winterize a house, that is their business. Whether or not the house is re-winterized is between the inspector, his or her client, and the person responsible for the property. In summary, the question posed is not an ethics issue.

Can I join a network marketing organization? For the one I am interested in, you pay an annual fee of $330. Only one professional from an industry can join at a time. The concept is to get referrals from other business professionals and also to give referrals to those other business professionals. There is no monetary reward for either giving or receiving a referral. The only reward is that you may get more business for your own company. You are not considered a preferred vendor.

Interpretation by the ASHI Code of Ethics Committee: Participation by an ASHI Inspector in a networking organization does not violate the ASHI Code of Ethics as long as the inspector adheres to the ASHI Code of Ethics in the relationships developed as a result of being a member of the networking organization. The purpose of networking organizations is to allow professionals from varying fields an opportunity to meet and become familiar with the services of others in the group, and to see ways in which the members may cooperate to increase business for the members.

As long as an ASHI Inspector does not provide compensation for referrals to another member of the group, he or she would not be in violation of the ASHI Code of Ethics. Likewise, the inspector shall not accept compensation for any referrals provided and should recommend contractors, services or products that the inspector believes will meet the needs of the client.

Jamison Brown is the owner of Home Inspections by Jamison & Company, Poquoson, VA. Before becoming an ASHI member in 1988, Jamison was a project manager, and supervised the construction and remodeling of more than 10,000 housing units for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Jamison is a former member of the Carpenters and Joiners of America and a former licensed plumber in the state of Virginia. He is a member of the International Code Council, International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI) and a certified member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). He has been a member of ASHI’s Technical and Membership Committees, and was chair of the CEPP Committee. Currently, he chairs the ASHI Code of Ethics Committee. Jamison has personally inspected more than 18,000 residential and commercial properties. Contact him at jamison.brown@gmail.com.