December, 2005
From the ASHI President.
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Celebrating a Win

DON NORMAN

ASHI celebrated a win this last September that may have missed your notice. HUD has eliminated the Valuation Conditions form, commonly referred to as the VC sheet.

For those of you new to our business, some years ago, then-HUD secretary Andrew Cuomo implemented the Home Buyer’s Protection Plan as a way to avoid the political heat he was receiving about problems homebuyers were experiencing when purchasing a HUD home. The plan required appraisers to perform an ‘inspection’ on the property they were appraising in order to notify the mortgage lender of any defects that the appraiser believed were present. If the appraiser was not sure, he or she would call for further evaluation.

The problem came about when homebuyers, believing that the appraiser was doing a home inspection, did not request a true home inspection. While the plan looked good on paper, it was a monumental disaster for HUD homebuyers, inspectors and appraisers.

ASHI took the lemons and made lemonade. Joining forces with the Appraiser’s Institute, ASHI went to Capitol Hill to fix what was broken. Working with our lobbyist, Randall Pence of Capitol Hill Associates, we encouraged HUD to issue the first-ever letter to homebuyers describing the difference between a home inspection and an appraisal AND explaining the importance of getting a home inspection. The document—For Your Protection Get A Home Inspection—was inspired by ASHI and still is required to be signed by the homebuyer at the time of contract, thereby ensuring the homebuyer is informed in a timely manner.

We recommended further changes to the letter, including a requirement that in addition to signing the document, homebuyers must initial a brief statement indicating that they did or did not want a home inspection.

Along with the VC sheet, HUD also eliminated the “report” to homebuyers rating the “condition” of the elements in the home. The information in this document was taken from the VC sheet and went even further in giving buyers a false sense of security about the home’s true condition. There were some benefits that came from the Home Buyer’s Protection Plan. It woke us up to the need for representation in Washington, D.C. Since that program began, ASHI has worked hard to develop and build solid working relationships with many legislators and HUD, promoting the importance of home inspection. You can see the results of that work the next time you see an advertisement in a magazine for a HUD home. At the bottom of every ad it states HUD’s recommendation and recognizes the importance of having a home inspection. That’s a big deal.

We also recently contacted the Veterans Administration and its representatives have expressed great interest in doing something similar to what HUD did by informing veterans using the VA program to buy a home of the importance of a home inspection.

On a separate note, the holidays are just around the corner and I’m a sensitive guy. I mean, really, come on. How many other people do you know who get choked up when talking about the home inspection profession? With the year-end holidays just around the corner and InspectionWorld coming up in a few short weeks, we all have a full plate. I will tell you, as have other presidents in the past, that this year has flown by. I have met many, many fine people, most of them members of ASHI and quite a few who were not. I have traveled to both coasts more than once and even into Canada on one occasion. I’ve had the unique opportunity to see and hear from a wide range of people who work in our business, as well as those who work around the real estate industry, and I’m pleased to report that, without exception, they are good people.

And for all that, Dorothy was right. There is no place like home. Maybe that’s why I believe what we do is so important. As you spend time with your friends and family during this holiday season, take a moment to look around and see, really see them. Remind yourself what it is about them that makes them so special to you. It is this, not what we do, that makes us rich. I recently heard a quote I liked a lot. It went something like this: “Remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but the moments that leave us breathless.” Here’s wishing you breathless holidays.