Starting from scratch, someone with a high school diploma can now become eligible for a home inspector’s license in just over a month. The pressure placed on the governor’s office and the amount of influence exerted on the legislators to vote in favor of the changes are testament to how determined some are to set the standard bar for the profession as low as possible.
The stated reasons for making the changes were that the requirements were too
difficult: obligatory mentoring, 300 hours of classroom contact in 10 subject areas with required text, required testing using a validated exam, and employment for a year with an already licensed inspector. Some charged that the requirements constituted restriction of trade. Some national education providers and franchise operators were unhappy that they could not sell their programs because the New Jersey State Department of Education selected a specific curriculum for the required course material. Real estate practitioners supported the changes, indicating their public concern that not enough inspectors would be licensed to meet the demand for inspections and home sales would suffer.
In addition to the New Jersey Association of Realtors®, the professional engineers and NACHI, a newly-created group cloaked under a false banner of consumer protection, lead the fight for change. This consumer group’s claim was that setting the bar high would be to the detriment of the homebuying consumer because it would limit the number of inspectors, resulting in increased costs. In fact, a single person who was having difficulty meeting the requirements for licensure spearheaded this group. Its only real interest was in lower standards, minimal education and no real experience requirements. David Tamny, ASHI secretary, recently reminded me that the barriers in place to restrict entry into a business define a true profession. It is interesting how these shortsighted amendments do more to weaken the profession than bolster it.
The only organized opposition to the changes came from several local ASHI chapters and several insightful legislators, and ASHI national provided support through the legislative action center. Interestingly, the New Jersey Home Inspector’s Advisory Committee formally stated its opposition—a bold move from a governing body. Unfortunately, we were no match for the money and influence of the group intent on lowering the bar.
And though the changes still require some testing, some education and some actual inspection time through classroom activities, it is my opinion the law falls short of a real program capable of training new inspectors to minimal acceptable professional standards. Our long struggle with licensing in New Jersey has taught us at least two lessons, frequently heard, but now with new meaning that hits home. Even when a licensing bill is signed into law, nothing is final; and, in the ever-changing and diverse world of regulation by the existing 30 regulated states and many local jurisdictions, ASHI membership continues to be the best credential the public can use to determine consistent home inspector qualifications. Now, that is something we can all be proud of that distinguishes us from the rest.
ASHI Issues News Release on Influencing State Legislation
ASHI’s most recent news release, “Home Inspection Gaining National Attention from State Legislators,” is posted on www.ashi.org. Click here to read it.
ASHI Participates at ARELLO Conference
ASHI Legislative Committee Member Marvin Goldstein and ASHI Director of Chapter Relations and State Affairs Director Bob Kociolek attended the annual conference of the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO), October 1, in Toronto.
Goldstein co-facilitated a breakout session, “Home Inspectors: Should They Be Licensed?” The session attracted some 50 regulators and industry representatives, including inspector associations and franchise owners. The conversation was lively as the group discussed topics of concern to regulators, consumers and inspectors, including the following:
- Should inspectors be licensed?
- If so, where should they be regulated?
- Is there any inherent conflict of interest if inspectors are regulated by real estate license law officials?
- Should inspectors be required to have Errors and Omissions Insurance?