All Appraisers Aren’t Created Equal

There is a lot being written now about hiring qualified appraisers to value your personal property. To help drive that point home, I would like to tell you about a recent meeting with a local “Art Consultant”.

We met at a local art opening and following the principals of “Networking 101”, we later decided to have coffee at a museum to discuss our professional experience and ideal referral partners. (Textbook plan right!) We exchanged niceties, looked at pictures of great paintings on our IPad’s and of course talked business. An impressive background and training as an interior designer lead to a 20+ year career as an “Art Consultant”.  Among the varied “consultancy services” they included appraisals, although they did mention that they don’t do too many of those (this will be quit apparent later). My obvious first question was “Where were you trained?” Being the good networker that I am, I had done my research before the meeting and didn’t find their appraisal training listed anywhere. Maybe the sites I found just weren’t updated… it happens. Well come to find out, there was nothing to find. They may have “wanted to” but have not done it yet… for 20 years. Okay, there is something to be said if you are an experienced “art consultant” or “art dealer”. They may know the artist(s) and the market, maybe better than anyone! But do they know proper appraisal methodology? Let me go on… The consultant brought one of their “insurance appraisals” for me to look at. They explained that the discussion with their client revealed that they wanted to know values to thin out the collection. The appraisal was presented nicely in a spiral bound folder, aside from that, things started going downhill. I will point out a most glaring error and their comment to it. Mind you, this was not the only problem, but a biggie nonetheless. Their “Insurance Appraisal” was written at “Fair Market Value”. OOPS! What was the intended use of the appraisal? What should the objective be? Let’s not beat that horse, let’s keep it simple. I clarified that it was to be an insurance appraisal, although they didn’t sound too sure. What was my next question? … If you guessed      ; ”Why did you use fair market value?”, you’re right! The answer, with the look of a deer caught in the headlights, was a question…”Why? That isn’t right?”. What followed was a discussion about Fair Market Value, Market Value and Replacement Cost. A glowing light bulb appeared over their head and they said…Maybe I should redo it. I was hopeful this was a statement. It wasn’t…it was a question. Upon pondering it, they concluded that they would just leave “that one” (the appraisal) the way it is. OOFA!!!

If their client only knew.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE ask your perspective appraiser if they have current and updated training on appraisal methodology as well as the expertise in what you want them to appraise. There are several National and International associations as well as a select few Universities offering training in appraisal methodology. Look for these in your appraiser’s background and hopefully it will save you from paying for an unusable appraisal.

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