There are 30 states with some form of home inspection regulation on the books. These laws range from simple Trade Practice Acts—which I like to call behavioral laws—to full-blown licensing laws with regulatory committees. In my opinion, if regulation must prevail, then it should be in the form of peers regulating peers—the same model referenced by many professional groups. Time will tell if the remaining unregulated states follow suit and, if they do, which form of law will be referenced.
Another front to watch is states with existing minimal legislation realizing the need to strengthen their laws or, as in my state, weaken it to allow less qualified individuals access to the business under the guise of driving down inspection fees for homebuying consumers and having enough inspectors to fill the inspection needs of the real estate community. The only thing we can expect in the legislative arena is the unexpected.Respect for recognized professionals
Our association has been busy tracking legislation for more than 25 years. It is important to be reminded just how busy our committees and staff are as they strive to produce a work product that complements the promotion of our profession and the benefit of membership. As I travel and talk to people about what we do, I’m glad to hear and report how much universal respect there is for the recognized professionals in this field – our association and membership.
Over the past many years, legislation action groups across the country have continued to reference or copy our Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics in part or verbatim. Elements of the (now one) document are laced into every law written that governs this business. ASHI has earned the title as the birthplace of the home inspection profession. No other organization, group or
magazine can make this claim. Take a moment to review our Policy & Procedures document and trace the years of thoughtful discussions. Contained therein you’ll find the history of this thing called home inspection legislation long before it became a popular pursuit.Legislation used and abused
And a pursuit it is because it seems more of a sport these days. Legislation is being used (more like abused) as an easy means for virtual organizations or groups to become recognized. How is this accomplished? Consider it as a quick and easy strategy: a group can become relevant to its members, in the absence of any credible history in the development of the home inspection profession, if it is referenced in state law.
Unfortunately, there’s more. There is a new idea being pitched to legislators that does little more than erode this business, moving us further away from creating a real profession. This is the argument made against minimal entry criteria into this field that eliminates the provision for mentoring or inspection experience for fear of trade restrictions or indentured servitude. A quick scan of the many professional fields around us reveals this as a thin veil covering the real reason that seems to support maintaining minimal entry level. As our current Treasurer David Tamny once said, “The barriers in place to restrict entry into a business define a true profession.” Well stated, Dave. Consumer confidence crucial
We all recognize the intrinsic value of a professional inspection, as do our satisfied customers, but what about a sub-par inspection or one performed to a low professional level? Over the past 30 years, ASHI assumed its role as stewards of the profession and evidence of this thinking is in our position papers and programs that have a direct effect on our business. But what will happen if this is left to chance, or worse, left to virtual groups with little history that promote minimal qualifications, yet represent their members as professionals? At best, this speaks to a lack of integrity and, at worst, is fraudulent. If consumer confidence in the services we provide is diluted, the game is over.
Each one of us enters this business from a unique background and work experience. I encourage everyone to be outspoken and passionate about ASHI and referencing our Standards of Practice/Code of Ethics as the benchmark of a true home inspection professional. While we can continue to work to ensure that when regulation is proposed, it is meaningful, promoting ASHI remains the best defense of professionalism. ASHI membership continues to be the best credential the public can use to determine consistent home inspector qualifications, and that is something we can all be proud of because it distinguishes us from the rest.