Question: Is it ethical to send clients a pre-move planner that includes advertising?
We plan to send homebuyers a pre-move planner using the addresses we have from pending sales. Advertisers in the pre-move planner also have the option of sending a follow-up piece under their own branding to homebuyers, but we handle the fulfillments to protect the customer list. The home inspector receives a fixed payment per address and a share of advertising revenues generated.
We have built a system that aims to protect customer data while supporting a marketing strategy that engages a limited number of advertisers in the pre-move planner, and we do not share the distribution list indiscriminately. None of the information—for example, about the condition or features of the home—that are gathered during the inspection are collected or used in any way.
Is this program a violation of the ASHI Code of Ethics?
Response: The program as described is not strictly prohibited by the current ASHI Code of Ethics; however, members who promote their inspections as “confidential,” but also sell client information (without consent) might be viewed as violating Item 2 of the Code of Ethics: “Inspectors shall act in good faith toward each client and other interested parties.”.
Compensation refers to any reward or consideration paid for services rendered, whether it is money or other compensation.
The prohibition refers to repairs, replacements or upgrades to all systems and components that are covered by the ASHI Standard of Practice (SoP), regardless of their condition. Services other than repairs, replacements or upgrades to systems and components covered by the ASHI SoP are not prohibited.
Question: Is it ethical to pay a real estate organization an up-front fee and a per-transaction fee to get referrals for new business?
Response: No, it is not ethical for a home inspector to pay a real estate organization an up-front fee or a per-transaction fee to get business referred.
Participation by ASHI members and candidates in seemingly similar realty company programs does not mean that those members and candidates are in compliance with the ASHI Code of Ethics. All ASHI members and candidates should critically and independently evaluate whether the programs they participate in are contrary to the Code of Ethics. Violations by others is no excuse.
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 email@example.com.