April, 2009
Feature
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



What Does Certified Mean to You?

PAUL STARON

Recently I received my new ASHI membership badge and took a hard look at the word Certified. Many companies and associations use this term to denote a level of knowledge. We see it somewhat overused by industries and professions, from physicians to plumbers. A Realtor® I work with says he is now Distressed Property Certified, and I wondered how that credential was earned. Anyone can call himself certified, but ASHI is on a path to make Certified mean much more.

Program update

We started on the path in a 2007 strategic work session. Last month, we submitted our application for third-party certification through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA, www.noca.org). ASHI has taken a slow and methodical approach in this process, including a needs assessment and a member survey. It was determined ASHI was uniquely positioned to meet NCCA’s high standards, which include compliance with 21 criteria. ASHI’s positioning is due to its high standards and ethics, membership requirements and organizational structure. Now, NCCA commissioners are reviewing ASHI’s application for compliance, but we won’t learn the results for a couple of months.

What all members should know

This program doesn’t seem to have a downside. Our costs are minimal, with no increase in dues. If you are a full member of ASHI, you have met the requirements to carry a true certification credential. Be assured that ASHI’s public relations machine will be focused on informing real estate professionals and consumers of this new accreditation. This is not a branding program, rather a program to provide more value to the ASHI name.

Whether or not this program becomes a reality is up to you, the ASHI member. Once our application is approved, ASHI’s voting members will receive a ballot to approve adding a Certification Committee to our bylaws. This will be an important and historic vote for ASHI.

Credibility and opportunity

The benefits to ASHI members are many, starting with greater credibility with the public, the real estate community and with those we lobby in Washington, D.C.
When asked, Randall Pence, ASHI’s federal lobbyist, responded, “The status of being certified by an independent third party generally confers extra status in the minds of federal policy-makers. If ASHI determines certification is in its best interests, certification is a factor I would mention in lobbying meetings with members of Congress and the federal agencies.”

The benefits for ASHI are considerable. Besides certifying our existing members, this platform will allow us to look at programs both for inspectors and non-inspectors. This gives us many avenues through which to pursue non-dues revenue.

One of the things I learned from a past ASHI consultant is that if you don’t define yourself, others will define you. The initiative is a step ASHI is taking to further define itself and our profession. This is indeed a historic time for ASHI and an exciting time to be a member. As I put my new ASHI badge into my pocket, I look forward to the day when the term Certified carries a whole new meaning for ASHI members.