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For What It’s Worth

What you should know before getting an appraisal

A client recently visited the Antiques Road Show at Filoli, and took the opportunity to get a second appraisal of a family wedding set a jeweler told her was quite valuable. With visions of dollar signs dancing in her head, she was shocked when the Road Show appraiser’s estimate was one-third of the price she had gotten before.

Funny enough, both appraisers were telling her the truth. We’ll tell you how that was possible in a minute. But first…Know what kind of appraisal you’re getting

Different situations call for different kinds of appraisals. A Replacement Value appraisal tells you what a similar item in similar condition would cost to buy. This retail number is what you’d use for insurance purposes. A Market Value appraisal is an estimate of what you could get selling your item directly to another party. It will be less the Replacement Value. Least of all is Liquidation Value, which is what you might get if you were trying to sell your item under difficult conditions or time constraints.

Know your appraiser’s credentials
Before you ask anyone to estimate a price on your things, and certainly before you give them your things to sell, make sure you’ve vetted them carefully. How long have they been in business? Are they licensed? Do they have references? What do they use as the basis for their report? Will they give you their report in writing?

Know the difference between evaluating in person or online
Seeing an item in person is crucial to getting an accurate assessment. If you need to send your item off to be evaluated, ask how it will be insured, and who will be responsible if something happens to it along the way. If you are getting an evaluation online, inquire how well-founded the appraisal will be.

Know how to find an appraiser 
The American Society of Appraisers, the Appraisers Association of America and the International Society of Appraisers all have lists of members you can call. Different appraisers may have very different prices for their services. It pays to speak to more than one person before making a decision.

Have you figured out how two very different appraisal numbers could have both been correct? The first was an appraisal reflecting a retail price. The second was an appraisal of value at auction, based on the market’s current interest. Both were accurate numbers – but represented very different scenarios.
There’s one more thing to remember when assessing values:  
Downsizing, decluttering and selling your things can require a major investment of your time and energy. Before you start, think about how much you are willing to invest in the process. If you, or someone you know, could use some help deciding what’s worth going the extra mile for, we can help!


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