Choose an Appraiser
Choose an Appraiser
How to Choose an Appraiser
Experience: The appraiser should be experienced in the category of items she or he is appraising. For example, knowing the differences of an artist’s periods, and that size does not always determine value.
Qualifications: Choose an appraiser whose primary business is as an appraiser. An appraiser should belong to a professional organization requiring a course of study and continuing education. There are various organizations, but the important thing is that graduation requires classes and passings exams, as opposed to paying a fee for a title and gold stamp.
Continuing study should include current USPAP accreditation status (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice), and producing USPAP compliant reports. USPAP is maintained by the Appraisal Foundation, a private foundation established by an act of Congress in 1989, to establish appraisal standards and ethical requirements. USPAP accreditation is administered by the Appraiser Qualifications Board of the Foundation. Compliance with USPAP is achieved by conforming to the standards in appraisal practice and reporting.
The Appraisal Foundation does not certify appraisers. Certification is performed by the appraiser’s professional organization.
Impartiality: An appraiser must be impartial so the appraisal can be relied upon by the client and the intended users. An appraiser should not be involved in buying or selling your valuables when in the process of preparing an appraisal report. In our opinion, an appraiser should never purchase items they appraise to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest, and this is our twenty year practice.
Scope: The scope of the appraisal must be appropriate to the value and purpose of the appraisal. USPAP requires the appraiser to determine the appropriate scope for an appraisal. Scope refers to the level of examination and detail, in the writing of an appraisal report. While budget is sometimes a consideration, a competent appraiser will not limit the scope to the extent that the appraisal is not reliable.
Documentation: An appraisal report should contain enough documentation to provide credibility to the client and other intended users. Usually documentation increases with value, as documentation proves value.
Pricing: Professional appraisers charge professional fees. You get what you pay for, and if there is a big discrepancy in hourly rates, then you are probably getting a lesser service.
Hourly Rates: Choose an appraiser who prices by the hour, not by the item, or the value of the items. As previously mentioned, value needs to be impartial. Charging as a percentage of value is obviously not neutral, as it is an incentive for valuing higher than the actual value. Sometimes higher value items can take more time to document, but this is only because of due diligence in documentation and research, and not a fixed price structure per item.
Photography: The appraisal report should contain professional, high resolution photographs of the appraised items. This allows the client and other users to understand that the appraised items are correctly identified, and in as stated condition. It is also important regarding division of property when beneficiaries need to clearly identify property. Poor quality, iphone photographs lead to misidentification and incorrect values.
Comparables: The most customary method of appraisal is through comparable items, that share characteristics with your, often unique, property. A key to getting an appraisal right is choosing and adjusting the closest comparables. While anyone may be able to access sales for a type of property and average the sales, serious errors may occur. Small differences can matter, and the key is knowledge and an understanding of current market trends. Finding, analyzing and adjusting the correct comparables is the foundation of valuation, by a professional appraiser who has expertise in appraisal theory.
References: Upon request, we provide references containing the names of institutions, accounting and legal firms, auction department heads we have worked, or institutions that have received donations from our clients. Our clients’ identities are always private, and we do not give client’s personal information to other parties.