The very first Chapter Leadership Day (now called Leadership Training Conference) was memorable for me. The hot topic was home inspector licensing. Looming regulation was rearing its ugly head in earnest, and ASHI was trying to figure out how to respond. Texas had long been licensed, but if my memory serves me correctly, a “bad” law had just been passed in North Carolina and many Tar Heels were mad that ASHI didn’t help them when they needed it.
In my home state (Ill.), there were stirrings from certain legislators pushing home inspection legislation. Inspectors in other states were having similar concerns, but there seemed to be a fair number of guys who thought if licensing was inevitable, we’d better get behind it or be left out. Clearly, this was a big issue. I listened as many in the audience approached the microphone. Some said we needed to be proactive. A popular refrain was if we didn’t cooperate with legislators, ASHI would be left standing at the station while the train pulled away. The real estate community would write the laws, and ASHI would have little, if any, input into bills influencing our industry.
The next guy’s turn came to speak, but there seemed to be a malfunction with the sound system. He had been standing at the microphone for a while, but I couldn’t hear him. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was being introduced to the trademark “Cramer Pause,” now for obvious reasons, known affectionately as the “Cramer Pregnant Pause.”
Mark stood there collecting his thoughts as the audience waited patiently for him to speak. I’ve talked to Mark recently about the words he used that day and his recollection is a little different from mine, but since I’m writing this, my version is the one you’ll see. When he becomes president again and gets to write this column, he can dispute the exact words. But I think I captured the gist of what he said:
“I’m concerned about the warm, fuzzy feeling ASHI seems to be taking toward licensing.”
He went on to expound on that statement, and as I sat there, it became clear to me that I could not see any benefit to ASHI no matter what we did. Was I missing something? For a long time, I discussed numerous scenarios with anyone who would express an opinion about them. On one hand, how could ASHI national influence licensing? We clearly did not have the ability to lobby in every state. On the other hand, could ASHI just sit by and do nothing?
In the end, ASHI published the Position Statement on the Regulation of Home Inspectors. There’s been a lot of debate about the efficacy of the white paper. In other words, what effect does it really have to influence legislators. No state has taken our advice completely. The regulators pick and choose what they want, or think they want, and laws get passed that do little to protect the consumer and even less to help ASHI.
The state of Ohio published a report last year: Home Inspector Licensure Feasibility Study. It’s detailed and basically says there is no benefit to consumers when home inspectors get licensed in a state.
Certainly educational providers and testing organizations have made a lot of money when a state becomes licensed: increased numbers of students looking for easy money in a growing industry, increased numbers of graduates who have to take a state test for their license. Both the educational component and the requirement to take a psychometrically designed test are in ASHI’s white paper.
I’ve got nothing against people and businesses making money, but does anyone else see the disadvantage to ASHI when we call for states to require a minimum of 80 hours of classroom education for licensing? We don’t require classroom education to become a member. Among other things, we require five verified reports, 50 fee-paid inspections for Associate Members with logo use and a total of 250 fee-paid inspections for ASHI Certified Inspectors. That’s practical experience that can’t be taught from a book or test.
But while we’ve all seen the number of inspectors multiply, few of them realize the value of becoming an ASHI member. Why become a member of ASHI and jump through extra hoops when the state requirements have been met? That, ladies and gentlemen, is our challenge. To really improve the home inspection profession, we need to convince non-members of the value to them and their clients in ASHI membership. Some of you may have received a questionnaire last month asking for your opinion on a wide range of topics. Your replies will help guide our association in making the right decisions for your continued support.
Thanks, Mark, for helping me use a counterintuitive approach to problem solving. It’s an indispensable tool in our business that I use every day.
ASHI President’s Podcast
To view Frank Lesh’s podcast, log in as a member on www.ashi.org, then go to: www.ashi.org/members/ president/podcast/.----------------------------------------------------------------------------