April, 2007
Feature
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Focus on Ethics

KEITH OBERG

The ASHI Code of Ethics Committee is charged with developing ethics education and awareness for ASHI’s membership, and answering Requests for Interpretation of our Code of Ethics. Two Requests for Interpretation (RFIs) received within the last year are included below. The ASHI Code of Ethics prohibits home inspectors from paying real estate agents for referrals. Both RFIs seek clarity regarding the definition of compensation for referrals. In the first scenario below, the gift is of very low monetary value and would not constitute compensation in the opinion of the committee. In the second, if there is no tie between the receipt of a gift or prize and any referral from the real estate agent, there would be no violation.

In either case though, seemingly minor changes in the nature of the relationship could push the activity over the ethical line. 

In each of our monthly Focus on Ethics articles we present one or more RFIs and the responses developed by the committee since the new Code of Ethics was approved. Our membership is encouraged to submit RFIs to the committee if serious questions about the intent and applicability of the Code should arise. The necessary form is available at the ASHI Web site under Downloads/ASHI Forms & Documents.

—Keith A. Oberg, Chair, 2007 ASHI Code of Ethics Committee

Request for interpretation

e060718 Providing food to real estate agents
While meeting with real estate agents during an open house, is it a violation of the Code of Ethics to give them food and drink?

Response


Providing gifts of low monetary value, such as snacks or beverages, to real estate agents would not be likely to be an inducement to the agents to refer a home inspector, would not constitute compensation or payment for referrals, and would not be a violation of the Code of Ethics.

Request for interpretation

e060720 Promotional drawing

Is it ethical to include real estate agents who have represented the inspector’s clients in past transactions in a drawing offering a prize worth $200-500?

Response

Offering prizes to real estate agents would not constitute a violation of the Code of Ethics if the opportunity were equally open to all agents, whether or not they had referred clients to the inspector, and provided that the agents were fully aware that the opportunity to win was open to all. Such an arrangement would not constitute a payment for referral in violation of 1.C of the Code since the opportunity to win was not enhanced by making a referral.