What to look for in an Appraiser – Six Questions.
In order to ensure accurate, unbiased, comprehensive and thorough valuation reporting, consumers should be aware of the fundamental requirements of any appraiser who claims to be able to produce a certified appraisal document.
When looking for a certified appraiser – and as there are no governmental bodies who regulate personal property appraisal practices (as opposed to Real Estate appraisers) – one should ask the following questions:
Is the appraiser exclusively an appraiser? This is a key question. Many dealers call themselves appraisers yet, if they are dealers, then obvious conflicts of interest may arise. The same holds true for an auction house – your best interests, in terms of true valuation, may not be in the best interests of the auctioneer. Additionally, some “appraisers” may derive the bulk of their business from other lines of work – such as estate liquidations or tag sales – with appraising only being a sideline. Bernards Appraisal Associates exclusively perform appraisals – and nothing else – and we are one of only a handful in the Northeast who can claim this as fact.
Do they have expertise in the items you need appraised? Being a USPAP certified appraiser, or member of a recognized appraisal association may not totally ensure peace-of-mind when selecting an appraiser. Whomever you contract with should also have specific experience in evaluating the items you need appraised – either through years of experience, or with specific accreditation and testing through ASA or AAA.
Is the appraiser USPAP certified and are the appraisals written in conformance of this standard? This is probably the most important question to ask of a prospective appraiser. USPAP (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice) is a test administered by the Appraisal Foundation – the only organization recognized by Congress to qualify all appraisers – that ensures strict standards of adherence to specific rules of conduct, professionalism, ethics, structure and compliance. Hiring an appraiser who is not USPAP certified is not recommended.
Is the appraiser a member of a recognized Appraisal organization or association? ASA and AAA are the two most highly regarded organizations in the United States regulated by the Appraisal Institute in Washington, DC. Further, these two organizations have ongoing and mandatory educational requirements that must be met for their members to retain their accreditation. Be certain that any appraiser you choose not only be a member of at least one of these organizations, but that they have expertise and specific accreditation in a specialty related to your possessions.
Can they document their membership to a recognized Appraisal organization or association? Believe it or not, there are appraisers working today that advertise themselves as being USPAP certified and members of recognized appraisal organizations, yet, they are not. It is important that you question an appraiser’s affiliation or qualifications and visit the web sites of either ASA or AAA to query the appraiser in question.
How do they charge for their services? It is unethical to charge a percentage of the value of items appraised. It is also questionable to charge a flat fee per item appraised. Compensation for an appraisal should be determined prior to contracting – and the rate should be either per diem, or by the hour. The consumer should also be aware of what the final cost of the contracted work should be – up front – so that there are no surprises, misunderstandings or other invoice issues. Be cautious of open-ended hourly fee structures.
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15 Mendham Road, Suite B | Gladstone, New Jersey, 07934
Ph: (908) 234-1153 Fax: (908) 234-1197
Dublin, New Hampshire, 03444
Ph: (603) 563-8335