By Sarah McCullom
           Professional appraisers must understand the difference between appraising and consulting. In an earlier article for this paper, I talked about written appraisals and when they were needed.(insurance coverage, charitable donations, estate valuation) An appraisal always reaches a “value conclusion”.That is, the report will stipulate the intended use of the report, i.e. insurance coverage or estate distribution, and the purpose, or type of value, ie. market value.A consultation, on the other hand, is an analysis that will result in advice or recommendations, but no value conclusion.If there is a value included as a part of the analysis of information, then it is an “appraisal consultation”.

          An individual who needs information on their antiques should also understand the difference between a consultation and an appraisal.Some appraisers do give what is called a “professional opinion of value” that is based on their general knowledge of the market.This can also not be construed as an appraisal. It is just that, an opinion, but not an appraisal based on research of the item or the appropriate market.

          I frequently get calls to come to an individual’s home to look at what they have. Perhaps they are downsizing, or they must make decisions regarding the distribution of Mom or Dad’s belongings. Sometimes they need advice on whether what they have should be appraised for insurance, or how to sell it. Since I am not giving a value for the items in the home, this is a consultation, and these types of consultations can frequently help families decide what to do with the items.

          If, however, they need to know the value of the objects, say the market value to sell them, or the fair market value for estate tax purposes, or charitable donation, then this is an appraisal, and requires a report.

          What is also important is that an appraiser should never put more than one value in a report.Each intended use, the reason for the report, has it’s own type of value, so only one intended use and value can be included.Multiple intended uses and values can be confusing for the intended user. A report that has market value as well as replacement value would be confusing if the report was sent to an insurance company.Which value is the right one?

          So, when you are getting ready to call an appraiser to look at your items, think about what you need. Do you need advise on what you have and what to do with what you have?Do you know you have a valuable piece that you need to insure?Do you simply not have a clue about what you have? Talk to your appraiser, ask questions. A professional appraiser will be able to advise you, and if you need a written report they will be able to tell you that, and provide it for you as well. 




click here to return to main list of articles