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What qualifies you to appraise my property?
A qualified appraiser has formal education in product knowledge, valuation theory, principles, practices, methodology, effective report writing skills, regulations, legal aspects, and ethics. A qualified and competent appraiser has a knowledge of various markets and should also be up to date on the latest appraisal standards. Continuing education helps to ensure 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 type of value. Without appraisal training, these "experts" have no way of understanding the complicated variety of marketplace definitions that are used to determine appropriate values for appropriate uses.
For example, values obtained from auction houses, jewelry stores, pawn shops, or antique shops are considered by the public to be appraisals, but they are not.
Do all appraisers have similar qualifications?
No! There are many self-acclaimed personal property appraisers who have not completed any professional education.
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; the burden is on the consumer to evaluate an appraiser's qualifications.
Do you belong to an appraisal society ?
There are many personal property appraisers, only a select few belong to organizations that require their members to take courses and pass tests before being admitted as full members. ANA is such an organization.
Membership in a professional association is important because it shows that the appraiser is involved with the profession, has peer recognition, has access to updated information, and is subject to a code of ethics and conduct.
Have you been tested? Do you take continuing education classes?
If the appraiser claims membership in a group that trains and tests its members, be sure to ask if this appraiser has personally gone through the training and testing.
Some organizations have grandfathered members into high member status without testing them. "Grandfathering" means allowing members to retain their titles and status if they joined before new rules or testing standards were required. ANA has an absolute non-grandfathering policy.
Continuing education is also important for appraisers. Procedures and regulations are always changing. Because of this, ANA constantly updates, expands, and rewrites its courses to ensure that its members will perform the work you need with knowledge of all the latest professional standards.
How will 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 when necessary.
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.
ANA appraisers are prohibited by their Code of Ethics from charging a fee based on a percentage of the value of the property appraised. Hourly fees, flat rates, or per item charges are acceptable.
What will the appraisal report be like?
You should receive a formal, typewritten report that gives you the information you need in a complete and organized way.
Some appraisal societies only require appraisal theory, with no "real life" examples. ANA is the only major appraisal society in the United States that specializes in personal property. ANA requires that its' members have formal education in product knowledge, in addition to education in how to write standardized, comprehensive appraisal reports.