|How to find an appraiser and asking the right
Whenever there's a question about the value of your personal property,
there's also a risk involved. It may be the risk of selling too low,
or of paying too much; the risk of being under or ever insured; the
risk of not getting your fair share in a division of property; the
risk of incurring tax penalties or being audited when claiming a
deduction for charitable contribution or when calculating estate
A professional appraiser helps you manage these and other such risks
by providing a written opinion of value, upon which you can base your
Rather than just being an educated guess, the professional appraiser's
value conclusions are based on prescribed methods of evaluation,
research, and report writing.
Below are some of the questions and concerns that a consumer should be
aware of and should consider asking a potential appraiser before
hiring them to appraise property of any value.
"What qualifies you to appraise my property?"
A qualified appraiser has formal education in appraisal theory,
principles, procedures, ethics, and law. The appraiser should be up to
date on the latest appraisal standards. Continuing education and
testing are the only ways to insure this competence.
The appraiser you hire should be familiar with the type of property
you want appraised and know how to value it correctly.
Expertise on a particular type of property is not enough if the
"expert" does not know how to evaluate an item for its appropriate
worth. Without appraisal training, these "experts" have no way of
understand the complicated variety of marketplace definitions that are
used to determine appropriate values for appropriate uses.
For example, a museum curator may be able to authenticate a work of
art, or a jeweler may be able to determine the identify of a gemstone,
but neither may be able to value those items correctly unless they
follow appropriate appraisal principles and procedures.
"Do all appraisers have similar qualifications?"
No. In most states anyone can claim to be a personal property
appraiser, whether they have had formal training or not. Until
legislation is passed to protect the public from the unqualified
appraiser, the burden is on the consumer to evaluate an appraiser's
It is important to ask the prospective appraiser what type of formal
appraisal education training he or she has received. Obtaining a copy
of the appraiser's professional profile or resume can help you
evaluate the appraiser's credentials.
"How do you handle items which may be outside your specialty area?"
No appraiser should claim expertise in everything. A good appraiser
knows his or her limits, and is expected to consult with other experts
"What is your fee and on what basis do you charge?"
DO NOT hire an appraiser who charges a percentage of the appraised
value, or charges a "contingency" fee. These practices are clearly
conflicts of interests, and may result in biased values. The IRS will
not accept an appraisal done with such fee arrangements.
"What will the appraisal report be like?"
You should receive a formal, type written report that presents the
information you need in a complete and organized way. There is a
sample of this located here.
Did you know.....
...that the same item may have many different appraised values
depending on how you intend to use the appraisal? For instance, a
value for insurance may be very different than a value for estate tax,
consumer resale, or charitable contribution. Other assigned uses
include investment, liquidation, price confirmation, equitable
distribution, loan collateral, casualty loss, and many more.
Qualified, educated appraisers understand the many different types of
values, assigned uses, and market levels. He or she works with you to
choose the proper type of value so that you can u se the appraisal
correctly and effectively.