There are a wide array of appraisers and appraisal report services for you to choose from. Here are some questions you may have to ensure you choose the right appraiser for your needs.

Who are professional appraisers?

A qualified appraiser has formal education in appraisal theory, principles, standards and procedures.  Continuing education and testing are the only ways to ensure this competence.  There are many appraisal organizations, but only a few require members to take courses and pass tests before being admitted as full members.  ISA is such an organization.  An ISA educated appraiser is well equipped to give you an accurate and complete appraisal that will stand up in court, if necessary.

How do professional appraisers come up with a value?

Appraisers do the necessary research and rely on their expertise and experience to provide a credible opinion of value for an item.  A professional appraiser follows the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), which provide widely recognized standards in the personal property appraisal industry.

The value that a professional appraiser places on an item depends on the purpose of the appraisal.  For example, if you are getting an appraisal for insurance purposes, the value of the item will be based on it replacement value.  If the item is valued for estate tax purposes, the value of the item will be based on the fair market value.

A competent appraiser may also let you know if further authentication is needed which helps significantly in determining an opinion of value.  Authenticators work hand in hand with appraisers.

How will items be handled which are outside of the appraisers specialty area?

No appraiser should claim expertise in everthing.  A good appraiser knows their limits and is expected to consult with other experts when necessary.

What does a professional appraisal report contain?

  • Cover document which explains what type of value is being sought and how the appraisal will be used.
  • The methodology and resources used in the appraisal including market analysis and market(s) selected.
  • Complete and accurate description of the property as well as pictures.
  • The date and location of inspection, and the effective date of value.
  • A statement by the appraiser that he or she has no financial interest in the property or that such interest is disclosed.
  • The appraiser’s qualifications and signature
  • The report should be typed with each page numbered.

How much does an appraisal cost?

After watching Antiques Roadshow or similar shows, one might assume that appraisers offer a free service.  However, appraising is just like any profession and appraisers will charge for their time and expertise.  Most appraisers charge by the hour or by the project.  Fees include the time needed to inspect, photograph, research and identify, analyze, conclude value and prepare the appraisal report.  Never accept an appraisal fee based on the contingency or upon the value of the property.

How long does an appraisal take?

It varies according to the client’s need and complexity of the job.  Most appraisal reports are delivered four to six weeks after the inspection.

How do I find a qualified appraiser?

There are several professional appraiser membership organizations that can be found on line including the International Society of Appraisers, Appraisers Association of America and American Society of Appraisers.  Members of these organizations have fulfilled rigorous qualification requirements set forth by the Appraisal Foundation.