April, 2008
Washington Watch
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Flood Your Representatives' Mailboxes

RANDALL PENCE

Ask them to co-sponsor HR4776, an ASHI-proposed bill

At  ASHI’s request, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), chairwoman of the U.S. House Committee on Small Business, introduced a bill that would greatly expand and enhance how HUD’s homebuyer counseling programs advise prospective homebuyers about home inspections.

The bill would provide ASHI-proposed training to HUD counselors on how to advise prospective homebuyers in obtaining home inspections; states that home inspections do not and will not occur unless the homebuyer asks for one; describes why home inspections are important and how to find a home inspector; and much more. 

Further, HUD counselors would need to be certified to give this very specific counseling on home inspections. 

You have an opportunity to help, from the ground floor, in getting a bill passed. Please write a personal letter to your representative in the U.S. Congress today, asking that he/she cosponsor HR4776, the Consumer Protection Home Inspection Counseling Act introduced at the request of Randall Pence, ASHI’s federal lobbyist. To read about the ASHI-proposed legislation click here.

To find contact information for your congressperson, simply go to the ASHI Legislative Action Center, http://capwiz.com/ashi/home/ and type your zip code where prompted in the “Find Your Elected Officials” section at the top of the page. Please mail a paper letter. This will have the greatest influence at this stage.


DRAFT/SAMPLE LETTER FROM ASHI MEMBERS TO CONGRESS


RE: HR4776
<date>

 Dear Representative _______________,

My name is <name> of <name of business>, located in <name of town>. I serve homebuyers in the district. I am also a member of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. I am writing to express my strong support for HR4776, the Consumer Protection Home Inspection Counseling Act.

Congress’ examination of the subprime mortgage crisis has disclosed a disturbing fact: Many homebuyers now in distress were so confused by the homebuying process that they simply did not understand key details.

As part of a solution to prevent similar problems in the future, we are seeing proposals by Congress, the Federal Reserve, the Treasury Department and the private sector to improve consumer disclosures, consumer education and consumer protection. We need to help homebuyers know what they are buying.   

A primary way for homebuyers to protect themselves is to obtain a home inspection, which provides a detailed, comprehensive technical evaluation of a home’s condition.

What you and many homebuyers may not realize is that obtaining a home inspection is a completely voluntary choice by the homebuyer. While some aspects of a home purchase are mandatory, a home inspection is and always has been a voluntary choice. Nonetheless, a home inspection is a very good idea. In fact, HUD recommends in a HUD disclosure document that homebuyers choose to obtain a home inspection.

But because it is a voluntary decision, it is especially important for homebuyers to know key facts so that a fully informed decision is possible. Informed decision-making is a core element of consumer protection.

HUD conducts and sponsors homebuyer counseling programs, but they need vast improvement with respect to home inspection counseling, especially since we are seeing more proposals to rely on counseling to overcome homebuyer confusion.  HR4776 would greatly enhance the quality of HUD counseling by providing specific training to HUD counselors on the messages to deliver. Counselors would be trained to counsel prospective homebuyers:  that home inspections do not and will not occur unless the homebuyer asks for one; why home inspections are important; how to find a home inspector; and more.  HUD counselors would need to be certified to give this very specific counseling. HR4776 would also generate new, easy-to-understand training tools for HUD counselors that would also be made available to the general public through public outreach.

I strongly support HR4776.  I hope you will contact Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, the sponsor of the bill, to add your name as a co-sponsor.

Thank you for your very kind attention.  I would appreciate it if you would let me know if you will co-sponsor. 


Sincerely,
___________________            
<name>
Member, American Society of Home Inspectors