Would you take a medication or vitamin that wasn’t FDA approved? Would you hire a lawyer that didn’t pass the Bar Exam? If you needed surgery, would you Google surgery methods or watch a tutorial on YouTube and do it yourself? Most likely (hopefully) your answers are no, so why would you choose an appraiser or not use an appraiser that wasn’t an accredited member of a professional appraisal organization?
Many of our clients that call in with service inquiries (312-814-8510) have had previous experiences with appraisers that have taken them for a ride, and that is the main reason for today’s blog. My colleagues and I have compiled a list of “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for the average person, when choosing a fine art & personal property appraiser:
· Don't have an appraisal without having a purpose for the appraisal. There are different types of appraisals for different reasons. If you have an item whose value you are unsure of, or if you are looking for a general value to sell it at, you would need to know the fair market value. The FMV is basically its worth on the current market between a willing buyer and seller who have a general knowledge of the item. The popular PBS show, Antiques Roadshow is a perfect example of people obtaining the FMV for their items. At MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. we call this service a verbal evaluation (call our office for more details on our services… 312-814-8510). If you are going to insure your items on your insurance policy or are filing an insurance claim, you would need the insurance replacement value. This value tends to be higher than the FMV, and is used only for insurance appraisals
· Do ask questions before deciding on an appraiser and an appraisal service. Be cautious of appraisers that make you feel uncomfortable about asking questions. Read through their web site and/or ask for them to send you supplemental materials for you to read at your leisure. Client testimonials are a great way to check out an appraiser’s experience and repertoire. All fees should be discussed upfront before business is conducted Before receiving an appraisal service, you should feel completely comfortable and have an understanding of fees prior to doing business with them
· Don't rely on a free appraisal or appraisers that charge on a percentage-of-value basis or other types of contingent fees. It is unethical and automatically skews the professionalism of that appraisal. An appraisal is a professional service that is unbiased to the value of an item. That service should be the same hourly rate whether or not the item is a poster print or an original masterpiece. Service costs may vary depending on the type of appraisal or the amount of research backing it up but as stated before, all fees should be discussed upfront
· Do refer to appraisal associations that outline appropriate ethical codes with regard to fine art and personal property appraisals. It is simple for an appraiser to be a member of one of the organizations by merely paying the appropriate fees for membership. However, it is important that the appraiser be an accredited member of one of the following organizations, which means that they have taken the proper courses and passed a comprehensive exam. The following organizations (but are not limited to) require their appraisers to adhere to specific standards of ethical behavior:
· Don’t sell your items to an appraiser that has appraised them. Plain and simple, it’s a conflict of interest. An appraiser can function as a dealer and vice versa, but only if the functions are kept separate
· Do inquiry about consignment possibilities. Many appraisal firms will help to sell your items on consignment or they will be able to refer you to a venue where your item can be sold such a reputable auction house or collector
Feel free to contact MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. with any inquires.