Frequently Asked Questions

An appraiser is a person who is “expected to perform valuation services competently and in a manner that is impartial, objective and independent.” as defined by The Appraisal Standards Board of The Appraisal Foundation.

What is an “Accredited” Appraiser?

An appraiser of personal property who has been “accredited” has met the requirements of a membership organization such as The American Society of Appraisers. Accreditation is awarded to individuals who have successfully completed an education program, accrued experience, and undergone extensive testing in both a specialty area and the Principles of Valuation.

Unlike real estate appraisers, personal property are not “certified” by state government appraisal licensing boards. Personal property appraisers are instead “accredited” by professional membership organizations.

Why should I hire a personal property appraiser?

If you need an objective appraisal of artwork, you would use the services of an accredited appraiser. Appraisers are hired to prepare appraisals for a variety of reasons:

  • Insurance coverage/protection
  • Damage and loss claims
  • Estates and probate (values of property for tax filing)
  • Estate planning and establishment of trusts
  • Equitable distribution or division of property among heirs
  • Liquidation of estates
  • Non-cash charitable contributions
  • Division of property for marital dissolution
  • Sale or Purchase of property
  • Bankruptcy
  • Collateral for loans
  • Financial reporting
  • Litigation support

How do you find an “accredited” appraiser?

Personal property appraisers can be located through societal websites such as that of the American Society of Appraisers. The ASA has a website that allows people to search for an appraiser by geographic area and/or property type.

What should you look for in an appraiser?

Choosing an appraiser for personal property requires learning about the credentials of candidates you’re considering for your appraisal assignment. Here are some questions to consider in your research:

  • Does the appraiser have an accreditation from an organization that requires valuation education and appraisal experience? Does the appraiser meet the IRS criteria for a “qualified appraiser”?
  • Has the appraiser kept up with organizational reaccreditation requirements?
  • Does the appraiser have experience appraising the type of property included in the assignment?
  • Does the appraiser conform to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice? Will the appraiser include a Certification in the appraisal that states the appraiser’s ethical stance?
  • Is the appraiser knowledgeable about laws, and regulations applicable to the assignment?

How are appraisers compensated?

Appraisers are paid by the hour, by the assignment, or by a set fee per object. Compensation should not depend on the value of the item. An appraiser who charges according to the value of the property is not impartial and stands to gain by appraising an item at a higher value.

Why should I not just use a dealer for an appraisal? They are cheaper and know the property well. They sold it to me.

Dealers may not have the “distance” and independence that allows them to come to an objective conclusion of value. Appraisers are defined by their competence in valuation and their impartiality. The dealer that sold the property is not at “arm’s length” from the property. A dealer may over-value a property, assuring the owner that they got a “great deal” when they purchased the property.

Appraisals completed for an IRS-related intended use cannot be prepared by the dealer that sold the property, per IRS guidance.

Does the appraiser need to see the property in person?

It depends on the intended use of the appraisal and the nature of the property. Appraisers can do more comprehensive evaluations of the property when they inspect it themselves. Appraisers want to examine each item in person, taking measurements, evaluating condition, and photographing it for their records.

It is often difficult to identify a property without seeing it in person. Is the print an engraving or a restrike of the engraving? Was the painting heavily restored? These kinds of issues can often only be concluded when a property is seen in person. On the other hand, a stolen item or one damaged by fire can be appraised through photographs.

The appraiser acts as an identifier, a valuer, and a witness. A personal inspection allows the appraiser to fulfill their “witness” function.

What do I need to prepare for an appraisal?

To help the appraiser be as efficient as possible, the property owner should make the property readily available for inspection and photography.

Any paperwork such as sales receipts, acquisition records, conservation reports, catalogues or books that include information about the property or the maker, and past appraisals that may save research time should be made available during the inspection process.

How often should I have my appraisal updated for insurance coverage?

This depends on the property and the volatility of the markets where the property is sold. Insurance companies have different requirements for the property they insure. The property owner should confer with the insurance carrier to check their requirements.

The owner of a property type with a sudden increase of demand or supply in the market may witness changed sales prices, and therefore, the need to have an updated appraisal. A painting by an artist who has a big exhibition at a major museum may see a great price increase as demand for the work goes up. The owner of a work by that artist might need an appraisal to reflect the increased popularity and corresponding market and price change. Appraisals should be updated at a minimum every five years.