1. "What qualifies you to appraise my property?
A qualified appraiser has formal education in
principles, procedures, ethics, and law. The appraiser should be up to
date on the latest appraisal standards. Continuing education and
testing are the only ways to ensure this competence. The appraiser you
hire should be familiar with the type of property you want appraised and
know how to value it correctly. Expertise on a particular type of
property is not enough if the
"expert" does not know how to evaluate an item for its appropriate
worth. Without appraisal training, these "experts" have no way of
understanding the complicated variety of marketplace definitions that
are used to determine appropriate values for appropriate uses. For
example, a museum curator may be able to authenticate a work of
art, or a jeweler may be able to determine the identity of a gemstone,
but neither may be able to value those items correctly unless they
follow appropriate appraisal principles and procedures.
2. "Do all appraisers have similar qualifications?"
No! In most states anyone can claim to be a personal property
appraiser, whether they have had formal training or not. Until
legislation is passed to protect the public from the unqualified
appraiser, the burden is on the consumer to evaluate an appraiser's
credentials. It is important to ask the prospective appraiser what type of formal
appraisal education training he or she has received. Obtaining a copy
of the appraiser's professional profile or resume can help you evaluate
the appraiser's credentials.
3. "Do you belong to an appraisal society that tests its members?"
There are many appraisal organizations, but only a few require
members to take courses and pass tests before being admitted as
"accredited" members. ISA is such an organization. Membership in an appraisal association is important because it shows
that the appraiser is involved with the profession, has peer
recognition, has access to updated information, and is subject to a
code of ethics and conduct.
4. "Have you been tested? Do you take continuing education classes?"
If the appraiser claims membership in a group that trains and tests
its members, be sure to ask if this appraiser has personally gone
through the training and testing. Some organizations have "grandfathered" members into high membership
status without testing them. "Grandfathering" means allowing members to
retain their titles and status if they joined before new rules or
testing standards were required. ISA has an absolute non-grandfathering
policy. Continuing education is also important for appraisers. Procedures
and regulations are always changing. Because of this; ISA constantly
updates, expands and re-writes its courses to ensure that its members
will perform the work you need with knowledge of all the latest
5. "How will you handle items which may be outside your specialty area?"
No appraiser should claim expertise in everything. ISA recognizes
over 220 areas of specialty knowledge. A good appraiser knows his or
her limits, and is expected to consult with other experts when
6. "What is your fee and on what basis do you charge?"
DO NOT hire an appraiser who charges a percentage of the appraised
value, or charges a "contingency" fee. These practices are clearly
conflicts of interests, and may result in biased values. ISA Appraisers are prohibited by their Code of Ethics from charging
a fee based on a percentage of the value of the property appraised.
Hourly fees, flat rates, or per item charges are acceptable.
7. "What will the appraisal report be like?"
Some appraisal societies only teach appraisal
theory with no 'real
life' examples. ISA is the only major appraisal society in the United
States that specifically trains its members in how to write
standardized, comprehensive appraisal reports. Each accredited member
has been tested on these standards. You should receive a formal, type
written report that presents the information you need in a complete and