If you ask 10 people what a particular item is worth, you will likely get 10 different answers. After all, there are different values for insurance, asking-prices at an antique store, estate sale values, auction values, pawn shop values, internet auction values, wholesale values, national values, and local values. Jewelry will even have scrap-value. This is why you need an appraiser.
An appraiser is someone who knows the value, history and desirability of a particular item. Most appraisers start by being collectors or dealers in a certain area, such as Roseville pottery, for example. After many years of research and investigation, he or she will be well versed in the history, values, and products in his or her field of expertise. A person cannot simply decide to start doing appraisals without such experience because he or she would have no knowledge to offer clients. It takes years of actually handling the items and the experience of buying and selling them.
When deciding on an appraiser to use, you should always pick one specializing in the actual item you need appraised. If you are having jewelry appraised, you should have a qualified jewelry appraiser do it. Remember, a qualified jewelry appraiser may be good for your jewelry, but may not be the right person to appraise your tools or pottery. A competent appraiser should inform you if the item is out of his or her area of expertise. We are part of a partnership program with other appraisers. If an item is out of our field of expertise, we may consult with appraisers or experts in that field. If we cannot adequately appraise it, then we will refer you to someone who can.
Questions you should ask a potential appraiser:
How long have you done appraisals?
Before you became an appraiser, how long were you in the business of buying or selling in this particular field?
If you were not in business of buying or selling, how did you get the knowledge and expertise?
Have any of your appraisals been rejected by courts or insurance companies?
Are you willing to defend the appraisal in court, if the need arises?
Most appraisers charge by the hour or, occasionally, by the piece. Appraisers cannot, however, charge a percentage of value as that would invalidate their appraisal.
We have been doing appraisals since 1998. We have handled divorce disputes, estate appraisals, IRS Tax deduction appraisals, and insurance appraisals. Our standard fee is 95.00 per hour, and we have a 2 hour minimum
An insurance appraisal is needed if you are adding an item to you insurance policy or if you are trying to get an insurance company to reimburse you for an item lost or destroyed. An insurance appraisal often states an item is worth more than local retail values of a particular item. This is justified if an item is not available locally and must be purchased from a more expensive market, or in the case of jewelry, when there are sometimes costly customizing charges. That buffet you bought for $200.00 at the garage sale down the street may indeed cost $1500.00 to replace from an antique store in New Orleans.
We start an insurance appraisal by examining the items included in the report. We look at condition, age, quality, and signatures, among other details. We obtain measurements and take photos to be included in the report. In the event the item cannot be examined because of total loss, we may be able to use past photographs to determine value. After the initial examination, we start researching each item. This includes authenticating signatures, verifying dates, researching marks, and consulting any expert, as needed. After we have determined exactly what you have, we then try to find an item that closely compares with yours, either for sale or that has been sold. These may be auction records, store inventories, or items for sale on the Internet.