In July, I had the honor and privilege of representing ASHI and the home inspection profession in Washington D.C. Our lobbyist, Randy Pence of Capitol Hill Advocates, had set up meetings with highly placed and influential policymakers. We visited the Office of Advocacy, the Small Business Administration, and we spoke with the staff for the House Financial Services Committee and several directors for the HUD Office of Single Family Development and the Home Valuation Policy Division, as well as an associate director of the National Economic Council.
In addition, we had constituent visits with my representative, Rick Renzi, and with staff at the Senate offices of John McCain, Barack Obama and John Kyl. To my surprise, Senator McCain was not available to meet with me personally. We also met with Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, chairwoman of the House Committee on Small Business, who is the sponsor of HR 4776/Consumer Protection Home Inspection Act, as well as co-sponsor Melissa Bean, the chair of the House Subcommittee on Finance and Tax.
During my visit, ASHI had access to some of the highest policy centers in the federal government to engage policymakers on a one-to-one basis. When they learned that I was representing almost 6,000 members from all over the country, my views seemed to carry some weight and to generate some interest (a unique experience for me!). I was impressed with the reception we received at every meeting. It was evident Randy has done an incredible job of positioning ASHI as the “voice of the profession” in the legislative arena.
It was surprising to discover that even these well-educated policymakers who draft policy affecting home inspectors have substantial misunderstandings about home inspections. I asked many of them if they had proprieties inspected; most replied that they had. Nevertheless, I heard it stated that “home inspections are mandatory,” and some thought that their appraisal was an inspection. This shows how important it is that ASHI continue to educate them on the facts about home inspections that have a material impact on how they legislate or regulate issues involving housing.
ASHI is taken quite seriously in Washington as a responsible resource partner for substantive and detailed policy recommendations, as well as for procedural guidance for implementing ASHI recommendations. These discussions on home inspector issues would not be taking place but for the action of ASHI. Other stakeholders, such as realty agents, appraisers and homebuilders, also are actively pushing their agendas, but ASHI has a strong presence influencing the home inspector agenda. Through Capitol Hill Advocates, ASHI has carved a focused niche among the policymakers who have influence over issues affecting the businesses of ASHI members and all in the inspection profession.
By combining the cumulative strength of our membership with our active lobbyist in Washington, ASHI is able to present a significant force to influence policy decisions in D.C. We, as individuals, can do little by ourselves, but by working in coordination with each other and our federal lobbyist, we are effective in influencing key issues that impact our bottom line.
At the end of our meetings, Randy asked me, “How does it feel to have a role in influencing policy for your profession at the highest level of government in the greatest country on earth?”
It felt pretty darn good!