July, 2019

Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Are These Violations of the ASHI Code of Ethics?


Know the Code: The ASHI Code of Ethics can be found at this link: https://www.homeinspector.org/Code-of-Ethics

Is it a violation of the ASHI Code of Ethics to offer a brochure for a specific home warranty to my clients?

I would like to place a brochure for a home warranty in my inspection binder. I will receive a payment from the home warranty company if my client chooses to purchase its home warranty program.

Response: No, the ASHI Code of Ethics does not prohibit the sale of additional products or services by a member, unless the product or service, or the manner of its sale, violates the Code of Ethics.

Will I violate the ASHI Code of Ethics if I promote my business by providing first-time buyers with information about a local lender that has agreed to reimburse consumers for their home inspection?

Response: No, providing accurate information about potential reimbursements offered by others is not in itself a violation of the ASHI Code of Ethics.

Will I violate the ASHI Code of Ethics if I maintain a real estate license while practicing as a home inspector, even if I don’t inspect houses that I’ve listed or sold to a buyer?

Response: Maintaining a real estate license while practicing as a home inspector is not directly addressed by the ASHI Code of Ethics. However, the Code does state: “Inspectors shall avoid conflicts of interest or activities that compromise, or appear to compromise, professional independence, objectivity, or inspection integrity.” 

ASHI has long maintained that there is an inherent conflict of interest when inspectors also are actively licensed real estate brokers or salespersons, whether or not such inspectors “inspect properties for compensation in which they have, or expect to have, a financial interest.”

Note this excerpt from the ASHI By-laws: “2.1.2. To avoid the possibility or appearance of a conflict of interest, a Member or Candidate, as defined in Sections 2.2 and 2.4.2, shall not, other than a retired Member, be actively engaged in business as a broker or salesperson in the sale, purchase or listing of real estate.”

The inherent conflict of interest, as defined by the ASHI By-laws, makes it a violation of the Code for a practicing home inspector to maintain a real estate license. Consumers of home inspection services need to be sure that the inspector they hire has avoided both the appearance of and any actual conflict of interest.

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.