November, 2007
Ethics
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Payment After Closing

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 (RFI) of our Code of Ethics. Two requests received within the last year are included below.

The first reaffirms the ethical principle that in order to ensure objectivity, compensation for an inspection must be independent from inspection results.

The second affirms the legitimate role that advertising can play even if the advertising is placed with a real estate organization or company.

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 an RFI to the committee if serious questions arise about the intent and applicability of the code. The required 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

e070430 Payment after closing

If an inspector does an inspection for a client, but was hired by a real estate agent and only gets paid at or after closing, is this a violation of the COE? The inspector is still being paid by the buyer, but in this instance, he was paid at/after closing. Had the house not gone to closing, it is not clear if he would have been paid.

RESPONSE

This would represent a violation of the ASHI Code of Ethics. 1.B of the Code of Ethics states that “Inspectors shall not inspect properties under contingent arrangements whereby any compensation … is dependent on … sale of a property.” Since the inspector may not get paid unless the house closes, a conflict of interest arises to the potential detriment of the client, as the inspector may be tempted to ensure that the house “passes” the inspection in order to gain payment.


Request for Interpretation

e070320 Relationship with real estate broker organization

We, as an ASHI chapter, want to approach the local real estate organization about placing a link on its Web site to our chapter Web site. We have 17 members and this gives everyone equal exposure in our locale. If this is acceptable, what if they ask for advertising compensation or a donation?

RESPONSE


The committee finds no violation of the Code of Ethics. Maintaining constructive relationships with other professional organizations in related fields is good for the profession. Paying for advertising or for promotion of inspectors’ services or qualifications does not violate the code so long as such advertising is not fraudulent, false, deceptive, or misleading, per 3.A of the Code.