Question: Is it ethical to share a website link with real estate agents, other related real estate firms and appraisers?
Response: While business relationships with real estate agents and brokers have the potential to lead to conflicts of interest, linking websites does not necessarily imply endorsement or represent an inspection referral. Unless the agreement to link websites involves an implicit or explicit agreement to refer inspection clients to the home inspector for compensation, or unless the information included on the websites is somehow fraudulent or misleading, sharing a website link is not a violation of the ASHI Code of Ethics.
Question: Is it a violation of the ASHI Code of Ethics to allow the homeowner’s real estate agent or the homeowner to accompany the inspector and overhear the verbal results of the inspection without asking the client’s permission, and should this question to the client be asked in private?
Response: Item 2.C of the Code states: “Inspectors shall not disclose inspection results or client information without client approval.” It is the opinion of the ASHI Ethics Committee that the Code of Ethics requires the inspector to seek approval from the client prior to discussing findings; that a tacit approval of the disclosure of inspection findings during an inspection, based on the lack of objection by the client, is insufficient; and that, to ensure against undue pressure on the client, it is best to inquire as to the client’s wishes in private in advance.
Question: Can a home inspector sell client information to subcontractors or marketing companies?
Response: Accepting payment from a party in return for client information or special access to an inspector’s client for the purpose of marketing services to the client violates the Code of Ethics, Items 1.B and 1.E.
Question: Is it a violation of the ASHI Code of Ethics for me to maintain a real estate license while practicing as a home inspector, if I don’t inspect the houses that I’ve listed or sold to a buyer?
Response: Maintaining a real estate license while practicing as a home inspector is not directly addressed by the Code of Ethics. However, Item 1, the Code states: “Inspectors shall avoid conflicts of interest or activities that compromise, or appear to compromise, professional independence, objectivity, or inspection integrity.” ASHI has long maintained that there is an inherent conflict of interest when inspectors are also active licensed real estate brokers or salespersons, whether or not such inspectors “inspect properties for compensation in which they have, or expect to have, a financial interest” (1.A).
This is embodied in the Bylaws as follows: “2.1.2 To avoid the possibility or appearance of a conflict of interest, a Member or Candidate, as defined in Sections 2.2 and 2.4.2 shall not, other than a retired Member, be actively engaged in business as a broker or salesperson in the sale, purchase or listing of real estate.”
The inherent conflict of interest, as defined by ASHI’s Bylaws, makes it a violation of the Code for a practicing home inspector to maintain a real estate license. Consumers of home inspection services need to be sure that the inspector they hire has avoided both the appearance of, and any actual, conflict of interest.
Know the Code - The ASHI Code of Ethics can be found at this link: www.homeinspector.org/Code-of-Ethics
Know the Standard of Practice - The ASHI Standard of Practice can be found at this link: www.homeinspector.org/Standards-of-Practice