What is a qualified appraiser?
When you are considering someone to appraise your property, it’s important to find a qualified appraiser who has a meaningful education, including appraisal theory, ethics, principles, procedures and law. Continuing education is important to ensure the appraiser is up to date on the latest appraisal standards.
It’s best to hire an appraiser who has specific training and expertise in the type of property you need appraised. Although some people will call themselves “experts,” without appropriate training they may have no true understanding of the complicated marketplace definitions used to determine values for specific uses.
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How do I know if someone is a qualified appraiser?
The Appraisal Foundation, a Congressional subcommittee, has developed rigorous appraisal qualification requirements for personal property appraisals.
Members of sponsoring organizations, such as The International Society of Appraisers, are required to adhere to these standards. Accredited membership in such an appraisal organization indicates commitment to an agreed upon standard of professionalism.
It is important to ask a prospective appraiser specifically about their qualifications. Many self-proclaimed appraisers have no formal professional education. Asking for a resume will help you evaluate their qualifications.
For more detailed information see “Questions to Ask an Appraiser”.
Continuing education is vital for qualified appraisers as regulations and procedures are frequently changing. Even if an appraiser is a member of a group that trains and tests its members, you need to ask if they have actually gone through current training and testing. Some organizations allow members to retain status without updating their education.
Why does it matter how I’m going to use the appraisal?
It’s important for the appraiser to know your purpose for the appraisal. The same item may have different values depending on how the appraisal will be used. For example, the value for consumer resale will be different than for insurance purposes, loan collateral will be different from charitable contribution.
A qualified appraiser will be educated in the various appraisal uses, values and marketplace and should ask you appropriate questions to determine and ensure the proper type of value for your needs.
What about items that are not your specialty?
Be wary if anyone claims to be an expert at everything. No appraiser can be an authority on everything. When presented with something outside our expertise, we consult with a network of certified appraisers to ensure the quality of the appraisal.
How do you present your appraisal?
After meeting with an appraiser to review your items, you should receive a formal, comprehensive report that provides the information you need. This report should include the following features:
- Formally typed in an organized way
- An explanation of the purpose of the appraisal and the how it is to be used
- How values were determined (methodology, resources and market analysis)
- A written description of the property details so as to be identifiable without photos
- The date, location of inspection, and the effective date of value
- A statement that the appraiser has no financial interest in the items
- The appraiser’s qualifications and signature
How are fees determined?
Never hire an appraiser who charges a contingency fee or percentage of the appraised value. Clearly, this would be a conflict of interest and the IRS will not accept an appraisal of this type.
A professional and trustworthy appraiser will base fees on a set hourly rate, a per item rate, or a total flat rate (for a predetermined number of items or project). Be aware that additional reports and court appearances may be subject to an additional fee arrangement.