ETHICS IN HOME INSPECTION? WHAT EVERY HOMEOWNER SHOULD KNOW
American Society of Home Inspectors Merges Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics
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.