If you’ve never worked with a personal property appraiser before, we’d like to share our process. This process holds true for antique appraisals, furniture appraisals, estate appraisals, insurance appraisals, donation appraisals, a single item, a handful of items and both written and verbal appraisals.
The work starts with an email or phone call. We will ask you a series of questions that include:
“Why do you want this appraisal?”
This establishes the goal of the appraisal and the type of Value you are seeking.
“Do you have any prior documentation, original bills of sale or prior appraisals?”
We use this information as a reference if it exists, but this does not dictate the current Fair Market Value or Retail Replacement Cost. Some prior appraisal valuations are vastly different from current appraisal valuations. Items valued five, ten or more years ago could go up or down in value dramatically depending on market conditions. Yet, having the original documentation can be meaningful in establishing the provenance and origin of the piece.
There is no charge to review your images. We welcome the opportunity to do so.
Once we have an understanding of the type of item or items you wish to have appraised and the scope and extent of work involved, we will get back to you with what we believe is your best plan of action, which of our services is right for you, and an estimate for our appraisal fee.
Some assignments can be done virtually and verbally in their entirety. Some appraisal assignments require an onsite inspection, a detailed inventory with photography, thorough descriptions with measurements and a written, compliant appraisal report in accordance with USPAP* and ISA** writing standards. Some assignments can be done as a hybrid of both onsite inspections and virtually, either written or verbal.
Once we know the reason you are seeking your appraisal, we’ll ask you to email us some images. Photos taken with your phone are fine. If it’s a painting, we’ll need to see the front, back, and signature of the painting and where the signature is located on the canvas.
For furniture, china, antiques, silver, decorative arts and collectables such as fine or costume jewelry and vintages clothing, we look for labels, markings, signatures and any clues that reveal the maker. We also look at condition, age, style and many other factors that influence the value of your property.
Upon acceptance of our estimate and plan, we will send you a work agreement that outlines exactly what we are going to do, what it will cost, and how long it will take us to do it.
Personal property appraising is based on quantifiable, in-depth and unbiased research so that we can demonstrate, support and defend how we arrive at our professionally rendered value opinions. As we communicate our findings either verbally or through our reports, you may learn a little more about your personal property and have a clear idea of its valuation in the marketplace.
It’s always exciting to find out that you’ve uncovered a treasure you didn’t realize you had and meaningful to learn that what you thought was incredibly valuable is actually rich in sentimental value only.
Now that you know some of the questions we will ask you, here are some things you should ask us or any appraiser you decide to hire:
Ask if the appraiser is accredited or certified. You only want to work with those that are. Credentialed appraisers have completed a rigorous education through a reputable appraisal organization and continue their connoisseurship through ongoing coursework. Accredited and certified appraisers have completed significant hours of experience in the field and conduct themselves in accordance with the highest ethics and standards of the profession. Accredited and certified appraisers adhere to specific rules and laws of compliance and produce Qualified appraisals that are accepted by state and federal government agencies, insurance companies, attorneys, Executors and trustees.
Ask if the appraiser has experience in appraising the item(s) you want valued. An accredited or certified appraiser is bound by his or her ethics to only accept assignments she or he has experience in, or has the confidence, education and resources to either research the items properly or enlist the expertise of a trusted colleague. A trustworthy appraiser will only accept an assignment he or she can do well. If not, he or she will refer you directly to her preferred specialist in the field.
Ask your appraiser what valuation service is right for you. Often new clients come to us asking for a written appraisal when that is not the service they actually need. A written appraisal report is a formal, USPAP* compliant, substantiated and unbiased document, produced in accordance with the ISA Appraisal Report Writing Standards (ARWS). These appraisal reports are used for insurance, taxation, non-cash charitable donation, estate planning and documentation. If you simply want to know the value of your treasures in order to decide whether or not you want to sell, keep, insure or donate them, a verbal appraisal may be the best and most cost-efficient service for you.
Know the difference between a sales estimate and an appraisal. When an auction house or consignment shop accepts your art, antiques or personal property for sale in their establishment they will give you, the seller, a sales estimate. This is a range of value the company believes your property might fetch in the current marketplace with their current clientele. When a dealer gives you an estimate to purchase your property outright, it is the price at which he or she is willing to pay you. These are not appraisals. The appraised value of your antiques, fine art or other personal property is arrived at by valuation research to establish a Fair Market Value (FMV). When you know the FMV of your personal property, you know whether or not you are being treated fairly. If you are seeking an insurance appraisal, the researched valuation you are seeking is a Replacement Cost, an insurance term which is the cost to replace an item with another having similar qualities within a reasonable amount of time in the relevant marketplace. This is done through production, reproduction or purchase. In most cases, using a sale estimate for insurance coverage will leave you underinsured in the event of a loss.
USPAP - Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice
** ISA - International Society of Appraisers