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By The Associated Press

JACKSON — The state Senate has unanimously approved a bill to give the real estate business oversight over home inspectors in Mississippi.

That would put the people most interested in selling homes in charge of regulating and licensing those who are supposed to warn consumers away from houses with major problems, home inspectors tell The Clarion-Ledger.

“Is this in the best interest of the citizens of this state … knowing there is a potential conflict of interest in the marketplace?” asked licensed home inspector Gary Smith.

Supporters say the move probably will be temporary, and the current government regulation is a mess that must be fixed fast. The board supposed to hear complaints about home inspections and purchases last met in 2010. Its members have quit.

Ninety percent of home sales now involve inspections, according to, The American Society of Home Inspectors.

Senate Bill 2698, pending in the House, would abolish the state Home Inspectors Board created in 2001 and place licensing and regulation of home inspectors under the state Real Estate Commission.

Pre-purchase home inspections became common in Mississippi in the mid- to late ’90s, but weren’t regulated. Real estate agents and builders complained about shoddy inspections and untrained inspectors.

In 2001, the Mississippi Legislature created regulations and fees for licensing and the Home Inspector Board, with five members — licensed home inspectors — appointed by the governor.

Inspectors must be licensed home contractors who are “code certified” in at least one field. That certification is not required for contractors and limits the number of licensed inspectors.

The state has 185 licensed inspectors, with 163 active. Many rural areas don’t have a licensed inspector.

Money from licensing fees — $325 every two years — runs the board. Most inspectors signed up when the law took effect, so every other year there is no money coming in to run the board, and not much in the collection years. The board couldn’t afford to rent an office. It used space at the Real Estate Commission, which has spent about $200,000 subsidizing the Home Inspector Board since 2002.

The 2001 law also didn’t set term lengths for board members, or say who was to recommend them.

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