ASHI Web Site Launches Audio Guide for Virtual Home Inspection

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Industry-first tool educates consumers on expectations, standards of practice.

According to recent surveys, consumers are increasingly dependant on the Internet to help make their home buying decisions. At the same time, home inspectors are using the Web more to promote their businesses. Now, with the help of a new online tool, home buyers and sellers can learn about and virtually experience a home inspection -- one of the most important components of the real estate transaction -- before they call in a professional. Consumers can access the American Society of Home Inspectors’ (ASHI) audio-enhanced Virtual Home Inspection (VHI) at http://www.ASHI.org.

The VHI, launched as part of a site redesign in 2004, was created as part of The ASHI Experience campaign to provide homebuyers and sellers with the information they need to make better-informed purchasing decisions. An in-depth audio guide is the newest addition to the VHI, offering a more dynamic and user-friendly experience. The VHI simulates an interactive tour of a home’s major systems, providing an overview of each area, along with photos depicting common problems and defects. For each major area, the user can learn about the Standards of Practice which apply as well as what should be included in an ASHI Inspection. The major systems include: structure, exteriors, roofing, plumbing, electrical, heating, air conditioning, interiors, ventilation and fireplaces.

Site Connects Consumers to Inspectors and Helps Remove Guesswork

Accessing the VHI is simple. Consumers can log onto http://www.ASHI.org and click on the “Virtual Home Inspection” graphic, shown on the right-hand side of every page of the site. Macromedia Flash player and speakers are necessary to view and hear the tour. Additionally, many ASHI Inspectors and supporting real estate agents and brokers have added the VHI to their own Web sites for convenient customer viewing.

Other ASHI Experience features on the site include the streamlined “Find an Inspector Tool,” allowing consumers to locate a professional ASHI Inspector in their area. The site offers inspectors a members-only feature notifying them of customer inquiries so they may respond in real time. Additionally, a “Rate Your ASHI Inspector” survey enables consumers to provide feedback on their overall ASHI home inspection experience.

“The home inspection is among the most important things homebuyers or sellers can do to protect one of their biggest investments, and we realize the importance of helping individuals understand this process and locate a qualified inspector,” said 2005 ASHI president Don Norman, whose organization represents more than 6,200 professional home inspectors in North America. “The ASHI Web site, including the enhanced VHI audio guide, can take a lot of the guesswork out of home inspection, so that homebuyers and sellers can be better prepared, make an informed decision and ideally achieve greater peace of mind about their purchase.”

Internet Usage Correlates to Home Inspections in Home Buying Process

According to a 2003 study by the National Association of Realtors®, homebuyers who used the Internet most intensively were also more likely to use the services of a home inspector. In fact, 87 percent of buyers surveyed used a home inspector when making their purchase. Additionally, the ASHI-commissioned 2005 Home Inspectors Business Operations Study reports that 61 percent of home inspectors surveyed have and use a Web site in their business.

Furthermore, 72 percent reported their own Web site as among their most important promotional tools, with 61 percent listing referrals from other Web sites as equally important to their business. The ASHI Web site, via the inspector locator and VHI, helps support the inspector and the consumer, both of whom are relying more and more on Web-based technology.

“This shows that the Internet is a valuable tool not only to home inspectors, but in the homebuying and selling process in general. The Virtual Home Inspection fits right in as another educational resource for Web users,” added Norman.

For More Information

Formed in 1976, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) is the oldest and most respected non-profit professional organization of home inspectors in North America. Its mission is to promote excellence and exemplary practice within the profession. ASHI’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics are the recognized guidelines for the home inspection profession.

For more information on the American Society of Home Inspectors, contact the association at 932 Lee Street, Suite 101, Des Plaines, Ill. 60016. Phone: 800-743-2744. Or visit the ASHI Web site at http://www.ASHI.org.

Media Contact:

Alana Stein

312-861-5221

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