By Sarah McCullom

          Over the last few months, this column has discussed when you need an appraisal, how to find an appraiser, what to look for in an appraisal, and even touched on silver and porcelain. Armed with all this information, there are 10 questions you should ask a personal property appraiser.

1. What qualifies you to appraise my property?

          Unlike Real Estate appraisers, personal property appraisers are not licensed. A professional personal property appraiser will have education in appraisal preparation as well as in his/her area of expertise, and experience as an appraiser.

2. Are you affiliated with or a member of a professional society?

          The appraiser you hire should be affiliated with one of the three personal property associations. They are the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) , the International Society of Appraisers (ISA) , and the Appraisers Association of America (AAA) .These associations each have slightly different membership requirements, but they all require their members to follow the guidelines of the Uniform Standards of Professional Practice, USPAP, and have a code of ethics that members must follow.

3. Have you been tested and passed a certification exam?

          All three of the above organizations have requirements for certification through their organizations. These include required courses, exams, and proof of experience in the form of completed appraisals.Qualified members review those appraisals for accuracy and competence.

4. Do you take continuing education through your organization, and in your area of expertise?

          All of the professional organizations give continuing education, in classes including ethics, USPAP, appraisal preparation, as well as others. Personal property appraisers also need to keep abreast in their field of expertise, both in terms of connoisseurship as well as current values.

5. Do you buy or sell objects such as mine?

          I would be very wary of an appraiser who buys and sells – while they could be excellent appraisers, this could be a red flag for conflict of interest.  

6. How much will the appraisal cost?

          A professional appraiser will come to your home, take a look at what you have, and give you a verbal estimate followed by a written estimate, usually in a short contract for both parties to sign.

7. How is your fee structured?

          Don’t ever accept a fee that is based on a percentage of the value of the piece. Professional appraisers charge by the piece, or on an hourly rate.If they charge hourly, the contract should indicate how long they expect it will take, and the hourly rate.

8. What will I receive for my money?

          While you will not be able to see a recent appraisal, as all appraisals are protected by a privacy policy, the appraiser should be able to give you a detailed description of what the appraisal report will look like.

9. How long will the appraisal take?

          This will vary depending on the current workload of the appraiser and the size of your appraisal, but one to two months is not unusual.If there is a deadline, be sure and let your appraiser know, so that he/she can prioritize their work accordingly.

10. Do you perform on-site instantaneous appraisals?

          In this day of Antiques Roadshow a lot of people expect this, but be wary of an appraiser who says they can do that.A good appraisal takes research and work. They might be able to give you an opinion of value or tell you on-site whether they feel an item should be appraised, but that is not an appraisal.





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