June, 2009
Ethics
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Ethics Questions Asked and Answered

BILL LODEN

The ASHI Code of Ethics Committee is charged with developing ethics education and awareness for ASHI members and answering Requests for Interpretation (RFI) of our Code of Ethics.

When serious questions arise about the intent and applicability of the revised code, members are encouraged to review previous requests and responses on the ASHI Members Only Web site under Resources.
If there has not been a request for an interpretation to a similar situation, please submit your question using the required RFI form, which can be found under Downloads/ASHI Forms & Documents.

We will continue to provide the members with the committee’s response to the questions posed by their fellow home inspectors. These responses — both related to the relationship between home inspectors and realty agents — are based on the new Code of Ethics, approved in June 2004.

— Bill Loden, chair, 2009 ASHI Code of Ethics Committee




Request for Interpretation

e070920 Opportunity to be an exclusive exhibitor
Does paying to be an exhibitor at a mortgage/real estate show at which I will be the “exclusive” home inspector violate ASHI’s prohibition on paying for referrals?

Response

The fact that you are the only exhibitor, or that you are the only invited exhibitor, is not by itself a violation of the Code of Ethics.  However, if your paid participation includes the promotion of your company to the public by one or more real estate agencies as an exclusive service provider, or otherwise lists you as an approved or preferred vendor, such endorsement of your services for a fee would, in effect, constitute payment for referrals to potential clients in violation of 1.C of the Code of Ethics.
Paying for referrals in any form can create an obligation between the inspector and the referring party and may compromise the impartiality of the home inspector, representing a conflict of interest to the potential detriment of the consumer.    

Request for Interpretation

e071023 Inspecting for real estate agent/spouse

Does inspecting a home for which my wife is the buyer’s agent violate the Code of Ethics? She is careful to recommend other inspectors besides me.

Response
The Code of Ethics is clear that to avoid a conflict of interest, “inspectors shall not inspect properties for compensation in which they have, or expect to have, a financial interest.” It is generally accepted that an individual’s financial interest includes immediate family members. The inspection results in this instance could clearly have an impact on the sale of the inspected property and therefore have an impact on the financial interest of the inspector in violation of the Code.  Clients need to know that their interest in an honest and objective inspection is not potentially compromised by possible financial gain on the part of the inspector or his/her immediate family .