August, 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 with answering Requests for Interpretation of our Code of Ethics. One recent Request for Interpretation (RFI) is included here. This RFI asks whether or not it is ethical for an inspector to work for a firm that provides other real estate services. The answer depends on the nature of the services provided and the dependence of those services on a real estate settlement or closing. To prevent a conflict of interest, compensation for inspection services should never be dependent on a closing or settlement of the inspected property.

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 arise about the intent and applicability of the Code. 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
e061003 Working for a firm that provides closing services
Is it a conflict of interest for an ASHI inspector to work for a company that also provides title, mortgage, valuation, closing, flood zone determination, foreclosure, bankruptcy and tax services as well as home inspections?

RESPONSE

It is not a violation of the Code of Ethics to work for or associate with a firm that provides other real estate services. However, if the firm profits from services that are specifically dependent on the closing or settlement of real estate, such as the selling of mortgages, the inspector may be placing himself in a position where he or she has a financial interest in ensuring that the inspected property goes to closing. This clearly would represent a conflict of interest for the inspector, would be a violation of the Code, and could result in compromising the unsuspecting consumer’s interest in a fully independent and impartial home inspection.