What Do Appraisers Have to do With Me? Many things! Let’s Start with the Basics…
What is an appraisal?
An appraisal is a comprehensive report giving an opinion of the value at a given point in time of any sort of property. This can be a business, a diamond, an electricity-generating windmill, a sculpture, a building, or anything else you can think of.
Why would I have an appraisal done?
Appraisals are done for many reasons ranging from estate planning to buying a home to valuing a business to determining value for insurance or tax purposes. The most important factor is choosing the correct appraiser to do the work.
Why choose a professional appraiser?
Don't believe what you see on TV! Professional-quality appraisals can't be done in 10 minutes or less and they're not free. Like any other profession, you get what you pay for.
Why choose an ASA accredited appraiser?
- ASA-accredited appraisers provide exceptional valuation expertise as they earn their designations only after completing a rigorous and regimented course structure and peer-evaluation process that requires years of study, experience, dedication and commitment.
- ASA Accredited appraisers follow both the professional standards set forth by the Appraisal Foundation and ASA's own Code of Ethics and Principles of Appraisal Practice to promote an accurate, objective opinion of value.
What type of appraiser do I need?
This depends on the type of item you wish to have appraised. ASA represents appraisals of all types including gems and jewelry, real property, personal property, machinery and technical specialties and business valuation. If you are not sure, simply contact us – we are happy to help.
Where can I find a professional appraiser?
ASA has over 3,500 designated appraiser members throughout the world. Our Find an Appraiser Referral System will help you locate one quickly and easily. If you don't find what you are looking for, give us a call or email us.
What are some questions to ask potential appraisers?
- Ask the appraiser about his or her appraisal education, professional accreditations and how they qualify for those accreditations (Here's how ASA accredited appraisers qualify).
- Ask for documentation of accomplishments: An ASA-accredited appraiser will supply consumers with a qualifications statement or résumé that includes his or her job history.
- Ask for references / recommendations from current and former clients, such as insurance companies, banks, museums, government agencies, homeowners, etc.
- Ask how the appraiser's experience and knowledge or expertise relates to the particular appraisal you need performed.
- Ask if they belong to a professional appraisal society and if that society teaches, tests and accredits?
- Ask what continuing education the appraiser has undertaken to keep up-to-date in the field?
- If they belong to a professional society, ask if that society has a mandatory reaccreditation program to ensure that education and knowledge are current?
- Ask if the appraisal report you will receive is USPAP compliant (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice).
- Make sure all your fee-related questions are answered before you sign an agreement.
- Make sure the appraiser explains exactly what your appraisal report will include (see below).
What are some things to watch out for?
- Never use the services of an appraiser who offers to purchase what they appraise!
- Never use the services of an appraiser who charges a percentage of the item's value for the appraisal.
- Don't use an appraiser who has either a current or future interest in the value of the item unless it is disclosed to you and disclosed in the appraisal report.
What does an appraisal cost and how long does it take?
It depends on the nature of the property. A proper, accurate valuation of personal property or gems and jewelry can take several weeks, while a professional appraisal of a large business or complex machinery and equipment can take several months. The cost varies significantly as well.
Fees are set by the individual appraiser: and are often based on an hourly, half-day or full-day basis. The appraiser’s experience and expertise will contribute to the fee. Most appraisers do charge for research time ands at times there may also be costs for expert consultation, photography, word processing, etc. Be sure the appraiser gives you a fee schedule or estimate before work has begun (many professional appraisers offer a free estimate of the time and cost involved in an appraisal before they accept a job). Be sure your appraisal agreement defines the scope of work and when the report will be delivered.
What do I get?
You will get an appraisal report that:
- Clearly states the kind of value being determined, such as fair market (used for taxes), replacement (used for insurance coverage), liquidation (used for bankruptcy or business dissolution) etc.;
- Describes the property being valued;
- Details the procedures used to estimate the value; such as:
- Analysis of comparable sales;
- Estimation and analysis of income (if applicable);
- Relation of the appraisal values to a specific point in time (e.g. fair market value of the real estate as of January 1, 2009)
- Includes the signature of the appraiser responsible for validity and objectivity; and
- Specifies the personal qualifications of the appraiser.
How long is my appraisal "up-to-date"?
This depends on the nature of the property and market conditions. While many appraisers suggest an update every two to three years, you should ask for a recommendation during the initial valuation.
The most important appraisal is the first one. Once property is lost, stolen or destroyed, it is much more difficult to determine value. Insurance companies demand credible, professional appraisals before they will approve reimbursement—photos and memory are not enough. Generally, "updating" an appraisal requires a change only in the value conclusion of a report. A professional appraiser can provide an informed and helpful recommendation as to the necessity and frequency of appraisal "updates."
What if I'm not happy with what I get?
An advantage of hiring an ASA-accredited appraiser is their adherence to professional standards including ASA’s Principles of Appraisal Practice and Code of Ethics - the code of conduct to which all ASA members must subscribe.
ASA is diligent in its efforts to ensure ethical practices and procedures on the part of its members. The Society has developed a mechanism for the enforcement of the Code of Ethics whereby clients may file written complaints if they feel an appraisal rendered by an ASA member violates sound professional practice.
If you wish to file a complaint, please mail your written complaint to:
American Society of Appraisers
Attention: Chief Executive Officer
11107 Sunset Hills Rd, Suite 310
Reston, VA 20190