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Ethics in Home Inspections? ASHI Merges SOP & COE


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Des Plains IL-October 1

Anyone who watches Bravo's new show "Million Dollar Listing" knows that the final sale of a home can hinge on the results of a home inspection - even for a million dollar home. While a home inspection is a critical component of buying and selling a home, knowing your home inspector is just as important.

Effective October 15, home inspectors who claim to follow the American Society of Home Inspectors' (ASHI) Standards of Practice (SOP) will also be required to adhere to ASHI's Code of Ethics. The revised Standards of Practice (which have become an industry standard and model for licensing in many states) was overwhelmingly approved by ASHI Membership in an effort to elevate the profession and safeguard consumers from unethical home inspection practices.

"By understanding ASHI's Code of Ethics, consumers can arm themselves with information that could help prevent them from hiring the wrong home inspector," said 2006 ASHI President Joe Corsetto. "Any inspector can claim to follow ASHI's Standards of Practice, but by merging the SOP with ASHI's Code of Ethics, ASHI is raising the standards of the profession to better ensure the likelihood that consumers receive a fair and objective examination of their home."

ASHI's Code of Ethics Revealed

Among the topics contained in ASHI's Code of Ethics is the relationship between a home inspector and a real estate agent, or other third parties that have a financial interest in the closing or settlement of a real estate transaction.

ASHI's Code of Ethics states, "Inspectors shall not directly or indirectly compensate realty agents, or other parties having financial interest in the closing or settlement of real estate transactions, for the referral of inspections or for inclusion on a list of recommended inspectors, preferred providers or similar arrangements."

While a real estate agent can be an initial resource for identifying home inspectors in the area, ASHI urges homeowners to research each home inspector's references, qualifications and affiliations, such as whether he or she is an ASHI Member, before committing to an inspection.

Other ASHI codes that consumers should be aware of before hiring a home inspector include the following:

  • Inspectors shall not inspect properties for compensation in which they have, or expect to have, a financial interest.
  • Inspectors shall not repair, replace or upgrade, for compensation, systems or components covered by ASHI's Standards of Practice, for one year after the inspection.
  • Inspectors shall perform services and express opinions based on genuine conviction and only within their areas of education, training or experience.
  • Inspectors shall be objective in their reporting and not knowingly understate or overstate the significance of reported conditions.
"The Code of Ethics is what sets ASHI members apart from other inspectors," said Corsetto. "ASHI members won't list items on the full inspection report that need repair and then turn around and offer to repair them ourselves. This is not our job. This is a conflict of interest that compromises the integrity of the inspector and the inspection results. Our job is to provide a thorough and objective inspection of a home's condition so that a homeowner or buyer can make an educated purchase decision. Homeowners selling their home will also benefit from the same ethical practices because the defects noted are based on conviction. We're not using the inspection as a way to generate repair work for ourselves. By merging these two practices, we are preserving the integrity of our profession and protecting the interests of our customers."

For the complete statement of ASHI's Code of Ethics, visit ASHI's Web site www.ASHI.org. Homeowners and buyers visiting the site should also check out ASHI's virtual home inspection, a narrated tour that provides an overview of the 10 main areas of the home that should be inspected in accordance with ASHI's Standards of Practice.

About the American Society of Home Inspectors: Celebrating 30 years, and more than 6,000 members strong, ASHI is the oldest and most widely recognized non-profit, professional organization of home inspectors in North America. Its Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics have become the industry standard. ASHI's mission is to meet the needs of its membership and promote excellence and exemplary practice within the profession. For more information, visit www.ASHI.org or call 800-743-2744.###

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Another commercial for ASHI. Without the hype it boils down to this:

"Inspectors shall not directly or indirectly compensate realty agents, or other parties having financial interest in the closing or settlement of real estate transactions, for the referral of inspections or for inclusion on a list of recommended inspectors, preferred providers or similar arrangements."

Inspectors shall not inspect properties for compensation in which they have, or expect to have, a financial interest.

Inspectors shall not repair, replace or upgrade, for compensation, systems or components covered by ASHI's Standards of Practice, for one year after the inspection.

Inspectors shall perform services and express opinions based on genuine conviction and only within their areas of education, training or experience.

Inspectors shall be objective in their reporting and not knowingly understate or overstate the significance of reported conditions.

More items can be listed to the ethics section to help protect consumers from the bad inspectors in the business. I will not list those items now. But the follow contains some items of consideration.

What can be said about all the other inspectors that send ads to real estate offices? Some such as US inspect, Pillar to Post, Amerispec and others have relationships that appear on the surface to be "far too close for comfort" for inspectors who are independent and ethically minded.

The position with ASHI is in question as to the degree of complicity. Their branding program is an expensive and mandatory adverting avenue that is unpopular with many ASHI members. The real question is whether ASHI should pay any real estate company for advertising while policing its members for doing the same thing. It is similar to politician taking favors, trips, cash etc form lobbyists and special interest groups who want to influence legislation. It just doesn’t pass the smell test.

So how does ASHI or any organization promote its member services without funding real estate brokerages and their allies? I’m not sure that the inspection organizations can totally sidestep the issues without some ethical conflict as the money flows from one hand to another.

When flyers and other presentations are made to real estate companies the end result is that the referrals are being solicited. The real estate agents should not expect any favors, but we all know that is not the reality. Many agents want to find inspectors who will “soft soapâ€

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"objective" ... interesting word. Objective in whose opinion? Branding. Has it reallt stopped? It doesn't seem so. Read the president's comments again. Does he intend to imply that non-ashi inspectors are not as good as ashi inspectors? I suppose there could be inspectors out there who are not ashi inspectors that put ashi inspectors to shame every day. And branding is not dead ... it's the whole reason that the SOP and COE were rolled into one any way. No matter, a professional inspector will exceed ashi SOP AND COE any way.

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This is not intended to be a complete answer. ASHI SOP & COE were merged to possibly prevent and avoid any conflict of interest. There are other reasons that are intended to maintain the distinction that exists between ASHI and other organizations.

To my limited knowledge, there is no connection between Branding (extinct) and COE/SOP.

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Let's put it this way.

The "ASHI Experience" branding campaign is no longer being pushed. The materials are still available for those that want them but it is not being forced.

Every organization has a duty to have some form of "Branding" in effect at all times.

You need to show why your different than the other guy.

So is ASHI still branding? Yes, so is NAHI, NACHI,and every other org.

Do not attack ASHI because it promotes itself unless you want to attack every org, every company, and every inspector.

If you don't like people promoting themselves then go sit on your front porch with a glass of iced tea and wait for the phone to ring. Better make that cooler of iced tea.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I didn't see anything here that was new. I had not realized that those COE items were not already in th ASHI SOP/COE.

It shouldn't make a difference to those claiming to meet or exceed the ASHI SOP, if they were operating by these standards in the first place.

Not meant as a dig but does the 6000 strong include all those members that only need a drivers license and a credit card to join?

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David,

You seem like a nice guy, so take this with a "grain of salt". YOU are using hard work, standards and code of ethics to take business from qualified people. YOU quote and use my COE and SOP to promote yourself, yet YOU are not a member of ASHI, according to YOUR website.

This board has some of the "original" inspectors participating, so a little puffery and sales stuff does not get you very far.

Speaking only for myself, I tend to read between the lines and ask logical questions. Can't tell you how many times I read inspectors ads and see 25yrs experience. Now you may have been inspecting for 25yrs, but Roy didn't start his school 25yrs ago, so maybe you attended after being in the inspection business for 15yrs and went back for a refresher course. I don't know.

I do know you are trying your best to aggravate.

If I am mistaken about anything, please correct me - I have been wrong hundreds of times before.

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This place is too cool & open to be blowing noise that isn't funny. I'm all for funny.

Not so much for digs, or anything that sounds like it.

I do know the guys that put together things like the SOP/COE, and have worked for a couple decades to get them recognized. They're as good as it gets, and now they have to deal w/the coattail crowd, which, I think, they're doing quite elegantly.

A little respect for >20 years hard work w/no pay that benefits all of us, would be appropriate right about now......

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Sorry I did not chime in before now, but I've been up in Kurt's town for the past week. Does the sun even shine in Chicago?

Les and Kurt said it very well.

David, I noticed that you have this on your website

CERTIFIED by EBPHI - the Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors is an independent examination organization whose objective is to promote excellence and exemplary practice within the home inspection profession and to serve the public through its quality assurance efforts.

I hate to be the one to tell you this but EBPHI does not certify anyone. You might have a certificate that shows that you passed the NHIE but this is not in any form or fashion a certification. If I had this misinformation on my website I would remove it. EBPHI tends to defend their good name as it is trademarked. It would not take much for you to make a few changes. You can say that you passed the NHIE as long as you do so in a way to not infringe on their trademark. Visit the EBPHI website for the correct verbiage and instructions. http://www.homeinspectionexam.org/

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