By Sarah McCullom

          After watching the Antiques Roadshow, one might think that an appraisal is pretty easy – look at the item, and based on experience and knowledge, tell the owner what it is, and what the value is.But…it’s not that easy.Long before that expert came before the cameras, there were people behind the scenes doing research; on the internet, in books, on the phone with other experts, and any other source, to confirm what they originally thought when they examined the piece. 

          A written appraisal is similar – the original examination of the piece to include photographs, can take up to an hour.The appraiser then must perform exacting research to determine style, period, and hopefully maker.Following that determination there is research of the relevant market, and comparable values.Dependent on the item, the research can take at least an hour, and sometimes much more. 

          The appraiser finally then sits down to put together the report for the client.This report, because of what needs to be included is a minimum of 8 pages, and is usually longer.Sometimes, it can be as long as 50 pages  or more, depending on the number of items that are being appraised.
          When you receive your report, it should include the following:

  • Title page with the owner’s name, appraisers name, the effective date of the appraisal, and the date of the appraisal report
  • Table of contents including the number of pages in the report
  • Letter of transmittal, the first place where the value is indicated
  • Intended use of the appraisal – such as for insurance coverage
  • Purpose of the appraisal – type of value that is being determined
  • Method of valuation – such a market comparison
  • Limiting conditions of the appraisal – such as paintings that could not be removed from frames
  • Certification – that the appraiser has no interest in the item, and that the appraisal was completed in accordance with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP)
  • Description of the item or items being appraised
  • Photographs of the item or items
  • Narrative that discusses the item and the relevant markets(s)
  • Comparables that were used to determine value
  • Value of the appraised item(s)
  • Glossary if there are terms not familiar to client
  • Bibliography to include sources used during research
  • A privacy statement making it clear to the client that their information is protected
  • Lastly, the credentials of the appraiser should be included

          This seems like a lot of information, and it is, but it necessary for a complete appraisal.In addition, the property owner is getting the information on the item that they need, and are frequently interested in knowing.All the major appraisal associations require this information.In addition, the IRS requires it as well for charitable donations.

          When you hire an appraiser, keep in mind that while the charges may appear steep, you are paying for their education, knowledge, and expertise. They are not only trained and knowledgeable in what is being appraised; they are trained and knowledgeable in the correct way to put together an appraisal.If you want it done right, do your research and hire the right appraiser. 



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