A number of inquiries have been received from agents and representatives of your professional associations on the impact of home inspector licensure on real estate agents and any responsibility that may be imposed upon agents. Specifically, queries have come to the Board concerning the presentation of a handout of information or materials on home inspectors and data on all licensed home inspectors in the Commonwealth under the new home inspector licensure statute. Following are answers to some of the questions posed by agents.
Q. Is the new Board of Registration of Home Inspectors part of the Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons? Is the new board under the Real Estate Board's jurisdiction?
A. No, the Board of Registration of Home Inspectors is a separate board. It is not under the jurisdiction of the Board of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons. Likewise, the Board of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons is not under the Board of Home Inspector's jurisdiction.
Q. Do I have to provide the Home Inspectors Facts for Consumers sheet as part of the homebuying process?
A. Yes. According to the statute which governs home inspectors, all real estate agents are required to provide a copy of the fact sheet. The Board of Home Inspectors has made this fact sheet available to your professional associations and is also making the sheet available to the public through its website . You may print the fact sheet from the website and make copies for distribution.
The fact sheet has been reviewed prior to publication by various entities including the Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, and the Greater Boston Real Estate Board. Their comments and suggestions have been incorporated into the final document.
Q. Will I be able to recommend a specific home inspector to prospective homebuyers?
A. The statute explicitly prohibits real estate agents other than the buyer's broker from "directly" recommending a home inspector.
Q. Must I then provide a list of all licensed home inspectors in the Commonwealth to prospective homebuyers?
A. While the statute governing the Board of Home Inspectors states that real estate brokers may provide, upon request, a list of licensed home inspectors prepared by the Board, the Real Estate Board realizes that this can become quite burdensome. Since the Board of Home Inspectors, through its website, makes the names of all licensees in the Commonwealth available to the public, the Board has agreed that by providing clients with the fact sheet, which contains the internet address of the Board of Home Inspectors, agents fulfill any requests for information on licensed home inspectors.
Q. So if I am an agent representing a buyer and I am exempt from the prohibition of directly recommending a home inspector, does that mean I also do not have to provide the fact sheet?
A. No. The statute is very specific and states that all real estate agents are required to provide prospective homebuyers with the fact sheet. The fact sheet contains other important information that a potential homebuyer needs to know about the home inspection process.
Q. If I have literature on a couple of home inspection companies, may I provide that without making a direct recommendation?
A. The safest course for agents is to provide the fact sheet with the web address contained therein and let a prospective homebuyer make their own decisions on home inspectors.
Q. Since the statute prohibits brokers from "directly" recommending a home inspector, can a broker comment on his or her experience with certain home inspectors?
A. No, it is still recommended that agents provide the fact sheet with the web address and refrain from any discussion regarding specific home inspectors or inspection companies.
Q. How may I obtain a copy of the list of licensed home inspectors?
A. Lists of licensed home inspectors may be obtained through the Licensee List Request section at the Board of Home Inspectors website. The list will contain the names and addresses of record for licensed individuals.
The Board hopes that this information will be helpful to real estate agents and consumers.
Q. Why doesn't the list of home inspectors provided by the Board of Home Inspectors contain business names and phone numbers?
A. The home inspector statute states that a real estate agent may provide a complete list of home inspectors, provided by the Home Inspectors Board, upon request. The statute does not mention the provision of address, phone number or company name. So, in providing a list with address information, the Board is actually exceeding the requirements of the statute. Further, since the Board licenses individual home inspectors, not home inspector companies, the Board does not have reason to collect business information. The value of providing a list of home inspectors is that consumers can use it to verify that a home inspector in their area has a current license, and to begin their search through the phone directory, chamber of commerce, Better Business Bureau, or other sources for a professional with the qualifications they desire.