What qualifies you to appraise this object?
Appraising personal property is an unregulated profession which leaves the consumer with the burden of determining whether the appraiser they engage is qualified. A qualified appraiser is knowledgeable about the object being appraised and trained in appraisal theory, the principals of valuation, ethics and law. It is advisable to request a copy of the appraiser’s credentials.
Do you belong to a professional appraisal society that tests its members and have you been tested?
The educational requirements of appraisal organizations vary and it is important to know whether the knowledge and abilities of the appraiser you are hiring have been scrutinized.
Does that organization have a written Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct?
A code of ethics and professional conduct will identify the standards of ethical behaviour subscribed to by the appraiser and should specify their commitment to accuracy, objectivity, competence and professional standards.
What precisely does your membership designation signify?
Appraisal organizations use terms like affiliate member, accredited member, senior accredited member and certified member. How these terms are defined can differ from one group to another and it is important to understand the distinctions.
Are your credentials current?
Professional appraisal organizations require appraisers to maintain their qualifications through continuing education, work experience and testing. It is critical to verify that the appraiser you hire is professionally active, competent and current. This can be done by checking the organization’s website to see if the appraiser is listed.
How long have you been doing appraisal work?
The merits of experience are difficult to overemphasize.
Can you provide references?
While professional appraisers maintain the confidentiality of their clients, they should still be able to provide you with business and personal references.
How do you charge for your services?
Charging fees based on the value of the object or fees that are contingent on a predetermined result or the occurrence of a subsequent event are unethical. Professional appraisers will charge an hourly rate, a flat rate or a fee per object.
Will your report comply with the professional standards?
The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) is a set of rules for appraisers but it is also intended for users of appraisals so that they can assess the report they commission. Professional appraisers will be committed to work to these standards.
What protocol do you employ in handling confidential information and what type of security do you have for appraisal records?
The purpose of the appraisal is to be set out by the client in consultation with the appraiser. In doing so, the client determines who is to have access to the appraisal and the information it contains. The format and mode of transmission of the final appraisal is also to be determined by the client in consultation with the appraiser.
Appraisers are required to ensure high standards of security in both the dissemination of their appraisal reports and the storage of records. In consideration of the variety of contemporary communication possible, and aware of the vulnerability of electronic communications, appraisers ensure the same high standards of security.
Compiled and prepared by my ISA colleague, Kathryn Minard, Art Advisory.com for AXA Art Insurance