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

Ethics Matter


Hello again. I can't believe it's May already. As I write this
article, I am back, fresh from Monterey, Calif., where I sat on an ethics panel for the Association of Real Estate Licensing Law Officials (ARELLO). This is an international group that meets twice a year to discuss the regulation of professionals within the industry. While other professionals  are discussed, home inspectors seem to have dominated the discussions for the last few years. It was an honor to be invited and a great opportunity for us to explain the difference between ASHI's Code of Ethics and those of competing associations. Ethically, we stand tall and proud with the strongest ethics in our profession. One of the major differences between our Code of Ethics and those of other associations is our restriction on performing repairs on properties we have inspected for a minimum of one year after the inspection. Creating an organization that was completely objective when performing a home inspection was, and continues to be, a cornerstone of our society's founding. Repairing homes we've inspected creates a potential conflict of interest and, in the opinion of ASHI, is simply not good business practice. When this is explained to a client, either by phone or at the inspection, it makes perfect sense. Clients will always appreciate and respect your level of ethical standards and professionalism.

Preferred provider lists illegal in four states

The other prominent issue that came up is ASHI's position on home inspectors being on a preferred providers list. Already illegal in four states (Arizona, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Wisconsin), our ethics state that if  inspectors or inspection companies pay to be on a preferred providers list, they are violating our code of ethics. Obviously, the concern is that the inspectors or companies are being referred to the client by the RealtorĀ® based upon their ability to pay, not the quality of their work. ASHI is taking its strong opposition to these "Pay for Play" programs to Washington, D.C. We have recently connected with federal officials to meet and discuss the specific RESPA elements that forbid these types of programs. (See related article on page 17.) There are many variations of programs that have forced ASHI members to pay exorbitant fees to be included on a broker's list of preferred providers. In some cases, inspectors are not able to participate because another local inspector is already on the list, resulting in complete elimination of agent referrals.

What makes ASHI different

Not surprisingly, representatives of other associations at the meeting felt it was perfectly OK to work on homes their members have inspected or "Pay to Play" in preferred provider programs, as founding Member Marvin Goldstein likes to say. They felt having Errors and Omissions insurance was sufficient to protect the consumer. We disagree. They also strongly objected to our demand that whenever licensing is in place, strong ethical standards should be included. We have been successful at having states adopt our standards and, in many cases, our ethics. We will continue to stress, through our white paper and at conferences like the National Council of State Legislators, the importance of strong standards of practice and a strong Code of Ethics with licensing home inspectors.

Consider serving  

The Board of Directors met in Chicago last month. If you've never been to a board meeting, please consider this your personal invitation to join us in July in St. Louis, Mo. The board meetings are open to all members and visitors, and we value opinions and comments. You are always welcome, and you may find it interesting to see how the policies and business of your society happen. Also, if you've thought about volunteering to serve on a committee or through your chapter on the Council of Representatives, a board meeting is great place to learn about the process and what's involved. Thank you for taking time to read this message. Have a great May, and I'll see you next month.