Why do I need an appraisal?

Appraisals of personal property are compiled for a number of reasons: for insurance purposes, for donation to a non-profit or other organization, and for estate and property liquidation, to name the most common situations. Sometimes an appraisal is requested simply out of curiosity.

We typically recommend getting an appraisal for an item (or items) that have a value or combined value of over $3,000. The IRS requires a qualified appraisal for any donated item (or grouping of similar items) equal to or exceeding $5,000.*

How does the appraisal process work?

The appraisal process starts with a phone or email discussion. If, after our discussion, it is determined that an appraisal is necessary, we will schedule a time for a consultation and evaluation of the item or items to be appraised. Payment for all work is required upon completion of the appraisal; the appraisal will be sent after payment is received.

The client should prepare for the appraisal by having all items to be appraised accessible. It is helpful for objects to be on tables (if items are small) and in well-lit rooms. We will also ask for any background information you have of the object, including any family stories, previous paperwork or bills of sale, etc. During the consultation and evaluation, all items will be measured and photographed.

Following the evaluation, we will conduct market research to find comparables of the object(s) in the appraisal. We have subscriptions to a number of databases and auction results that help us find accurate value opinions.

What types of value do appraisers use to value items? 

There are several types of value that can be used for appraisals, and the type depends on the specific needs of the client and what they intend to do with the appraised item(s). For example, there can be:

Replacement Cost: The highest monetary value given to an item if it needs to be replaced.

Wholesale Value: The amount a dealer would pay for a piece, typically up to 50% less than the item's retail value.

Fair Market Value: The amount an item would sell for in a willing sale between buyer and seller, neither being forced to buy or sell; also known as "open market" value. Items typically sell for fair market value at local consignment shops, auctions, etc. Used for valuations of property for Donation and Estate purposes.

* Information on value sourced from Trusted Choice Insurance Providers.

Why can't you just tell me what my items are worth?

We provide appraisal reports, which are formal, sometimes legal, documents required in many cases for insurance and estate purposes. In paying for an appraisal, you are paying for the appraiser to research the appropriate market for your item(s) and to give you a professional and informed opinion of value.

What kinds of things will you appraise?

We are qualified to do appraisals for personal property of many types - that means we can appraise typical things found in a household such as furniture, jewelry, china, or silver, or more unique items like militaria. Our areas of specialty include fine art, decorative arts, rare books, furniture, and silver.

How do I know if something I have is worth appraising?

This question is best answered after a free email or phone discussion. After that we can determine if an appraisal of your item(s) is in your best interests.

Will you offer to buy the items I am having appraised?

No, we will not offer to buy anything that we are appraising. We consider this a conflict of interest.

What does an appraisal cost?

See our page "Terms and Fee Structure" for information about appraisal costs.

How many hours will be necessary to complete my appraisal?

The time necessary to complete an appraisal varies widely depending on the item or items, age, condition, market, and other factors. After we have discussed the item(s) you are having appraised over the phone or through email, you will be given a quote with an approximate number of hours needed for your appraisal. Occasionally extra time may be needed, in which case we will contact you before we continue.

Can you guarantee that my items will sell for the appraised values?

Unfortunately, no. Appraised values are a thoroughly researched opinion, but they are not a warranty that the items will realized appraised value if offered for sale at auction, estate sale, or by any other means.

What will I receive for the cost of the appraisal?

After the research and documentation is completed, we will provide you with a digital, PDF copy of your appraisal report. Printed and bound copies of your appraisal are an additional $15 each.



*Please note that we provide appraisals only - we do not offer legal advice. It is advised that you consult an attorney or tax professional with any legal questions, and have these questions answered before you obtain an appraisal.