Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Call for Volunteers

Christine Guernsey, ISA CAPP
By Christine Guernsey, ISA CAPP

I have just reread President Cindy Charleston Rosenberg’s New Year’s Message. If you haven’t read it, click on the above link and prepare to be stunned by how far ISA has come in the last several years in terms of being an industry leader, guiding its members towards compliance with accreditations and industry qualifications, and helping its membership become (and stay) successful in an extremely competitive field. It is abundantly clear why ISA has become the premiere professional personal property appraisal organization of choice!

But just who is “ISA,” and how is it achieving so many amazing advancements for its members? “ISA” is not some omnipresent “wizard behind a curtain” or a large corporation complete with hundreds of individual staffers working 24/7 to make our members rich and successful. ISA is an organizational name. ISA is comprised of 800+ personal property appraisers, primarily throughout the United States and Canada. ISA is you. ISA is me. Together, we make ISA the organization that it is.

So how have all of these amazing accomplishments happened within the last few years? Because of the hundreds of volunteer hours that, currently, a small portion of ISA members have donated to the following projects and programs:
  • Creating new marketing concepts, which are benefiting all of our members.
  • Developing strategic partnerships with industry leading companies regarding the use of appraisal services, as well as who can refer business to our members.
  • Finding and nurturing sponsorship relationships and monies which fund educational programming for members.
  • Creating and teaching methodology and theory courses, pathways to accreditation courses, Requalification and USPAP courses, which members can take on site and online to keep their credentialing current, as required by The Appraisal Foundation. Our courses give members an edge on the competition that we all feel from the many other venues that provide “appraisal services”. Our courses are some of the best in the industry, and they help make our appraisers some of the best in the business.
  • Providing an annual conference every year, which extends an opportunity to members to learn, network, and expand their appraisal opportunities.
Can you imagine how much more ISA could accomplish if all 800+ of our members donated even 10 hours a year?

There are so many opportunities to get involved with ISA and help keep our organization strong, healthy and create better business opportunities for its members. We all have special skills of one kind or another, and we all have at least 10 hours a year that we can give back to an organization that is working hard for each and every member.

Here are just a few opportunities which have an immediate need:

Is increasing membership important to you?

Our Membership Committee needs current members from all across the United States and Canada to help spread the word about ISA. Do you know potential members, individuals thinking about getting into the appraisal business that you can approach with the message of our organization? As a current member, you are the perfect volunteer to reach out and give them the "insider's" view of the advantages of ISA membership. This is a committee worth joining, one that will not occupy a lot of your time but that gives you an additional avenue for networking with like-minded folks.

Some specific areas that need help are reaching out to young auction, art and antique professionals who may be interested in adding appraising to their skill sets. We also need volunteers to work on member satisfaction and benefits.  If you are interested in volunteering to increase membership and member satisfaction, contact Judith Martin directly at or call 630-665-5200.

Going to Assets 2015?

Mo Aubry, BOD Liaison to the Membership Committee, is looking for a few friendly faces to help meet and greet new members and first-timers to conference. Remember your first conference? Remember how nice it was to have someone reach out and make you feel welcome? We have so many new and interesting members from all kinds of venues and backgrounds joining us. Help “meet and greet,” and make some new valued colleagues in the process. Contact Mo Aubry at or call (941) 544-6806.

Know a lot about appraising or have product knowledge to share?

Karen Rabe is looking for mentors to help share their wealth of knowledge with new appraisers looking for advice in developing their appraisal skills. I have personally participated in this program and can say from experience that mentoring someone is extremely rewarding! I have made several new friendships with appraisers from different parts of the country. With all our new appraisers' varied backgrounds, the mentor ends up learning as many new valuable tricks as the appraiser being mentored. Contact Karen Rabe at

How are your marketing skills?

Our Marketing Committee could use some volunteers who are savvy with social media and have good writing skills. We need detail oriented volunteers who can help to prepare, write content, copy-edit and place ISA promotional material (ex. publicizing ISA’s LMS and educational webinars) on social media sites. We want to use as many online avenues as we can to get the word out about the conference, our sponsors, and why ISA is the premiere professional personal property appraisal organization of choice. If you know your way around the Internet, this committee is for you. Contact Todd Sigety at

Are you good at fundraising?

The Resource Development Committee can use a few good "money makers." We have sold out of our sponsorship opportunities for Assets 2015 (amazing!), but we need members with good ideas and relationship skills that can help us maintain our sponsor relationships on a year-long basis. Our sponsors are very important to us. In addition to helping cover the many costs of our annual conference, they also provide monies that help us create new educational opportunities for our members. They work with our members in providing referrals, product knowledge and appraisal related services. Want to join this team as it heads off in exciting new directions? Contact Fred Winer at or call 410-337-0085.

These are just a few of the volunteer opportunities in the immediate future. We would love to have you join the ranks of our valued volunteers. Your participation helps ISA continue to grow and provide valuable member benefits for all.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Make Your Nominations for 2015 ISA Awards

Perri Guthrie, ISA CAPP
As Assets 2015 draws near, it is time to think about who among our peers has stepped up this past year, dedicating their time and expertise to help enhance ISA and the personal property appraisal profession.

Is there someone you know within ISA that deserves special recognition? Is there a fellow ISA appraiser who has been an exceptional leader and/or mentor? Should your local ISA Chapter be recognized for an outstanding year?

During our March 20-23 conference in Philadelphia, we will honor these individuals and chapters for their exceptional work.

This year we are considering award nominations in ten categories:

2015 Award Categories
  • Lamp of Knowledge
  • Leadership
  • Outstanding Member
  • Distinguished Service
  • Chapter of the Year
  • Publication
  • Media
  • Marketing
  • Special Merit
  • Service
Please view the 2015 Award Nomination Form for explanations of the applicable categories and the requirements for each nomination.

I would like to encourage you to take a moment to consider those in our profession who stand out, who are deserving of honor for their commitment, dedication and diligence. Completed Award Nomination Forms must be submitted via email to by Feb. 20. 

Looking forward to seeing you all in Philadelphia!

Perri Guthrie, ISA CAPP, Co-Chair, Awards Committee

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Ask Leon: How Do I State My USPAP Compliance?

ISA members are invited to send in their questions on all things appraising and education to Leon Castner, ISA CAPP. Leon will share his answers on the ISA Now Blog. Please send questions to

Question: Could you please let me know, unequivocally, how I’m supposed to state that I am up to date on my USPAP?

Answer: This is one of many versions of the same question that seems to be foremost in our members’ minds. USPAP is a set of minimum standards-not a certification or accrediting organization. One belongs to ISA-an appraisal organization that mandates their members write appraisals according to USPAP and ISA Report Writing Standards. This requires members to take an initial 15 hour USPAP class and a 7 hour update every 2 years. If you have, you are in compliance with those requirements. You are required to write your reports in conformity with those standards and provide an attestation (a signed certification) that is an integral part of the appraisal.

Since we have previously discussed the fact that taking the USPAP class (15 hour and/or 7 hour updates) does not provide any kind of “certification” to the appraiser, it becomes important to be able to demonstrate and express to the public and our clients that we are following the rules and are current in our ISA membership and the requirement that we attend USPAP courses on a regular basis. This is done by including the attestation (certification) in our report.

Often, however, this is not sufficient for advertising or explaining our credentials to the public. I would suggest a declaration similar to the following that states exactly your position.

I am an ISA member (either member, accredited member, or certified member) in good standing, having fulfilled all the membership requirements including the completion of mandatory USPAP classes. My reports are done in compliance with the current version of USPAP and the ISA Report Writing Standard.

(Frequently Asked Appraisal Questions)

Question: Are photographs required for estate appraisals?

Answer: To my knowledge there is no requirement for photographs for estate appraisals. It is always a wise idea, particularly if it is a significant estate. Remember that a picture is worth a thousand words. It will certainly clarify your descriptions and allow the IRS to decide whether the comparable sales are indeed comparable and accurate. (I would use common sense in my use and placement of the photographs. Not every single item needs one, particularly if they are nominal items. Room shots would be appropriate in those cases.) It’s always better to have more than necessary – even if they are only kept in the files.

Question: One of the guardians that I do work for needs a letter of opinion. I usually do this instead of an appraisal due to the fact the contents of the condo are pretty much worthless (everyday items totaling less than $500, if sold at an estate sale), but the probate court needs a letter. I usually state in a letter to my client that the contents should be donated or disposed and I don’t put down a dollar amount. 1. Should I put down a dollar amount? 2. If I don’t put down a dollar amount is it still an appraisal?

Answer: According to both USPAP and ISA, an appraisal is an opinion of value. This can be expressed as a single number, a range of numbers, greater than or less than, or something in relationship to a previous value opinion or numerical benchmark. For example, if you say something is worth more than zero but less than $500 (or use the term “junk”), it is still an opinion of value from someone calling themselves an appraiser. As such it must include all the elements of a properly prepared appraisal.

There’s no reason, however, that you can’t provide this to the client in a form or template. This would contain all the elements, including the USPAP certification. The “body” of the report would be a short description of the property (could be the entire houseful) with an opinion of the value-even if it is “worthless.” It wouldn’t take that much extra effort to provide this to your client, still keeping expenses low. This would provide the client exactly what they need and make your performance a lot more professional.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

President's New Year Message: A Year of Accomplishment - What's On the Horizon for ISA

Cindy Charleston-Rosenberg,
ISA CAPP, President
Happy New Year ISA! 2014 has been a year of significant accomplishment for our society. Substantial advancements are also in the planning stages for 2015 with increased benefits and services to members, expanded education offerings, and increased industry recognition. Here's a wrap-up of what we've achieved in 2014 and what to expect from 2015.

Where We Are Today
  • With more than 800 members, ISA is distinguished as the professional organization of choice for personal property appraisers in the United States and Canada. Nothing speaks more convincingly: The majority of personal property appraisers continue to choose ISA for our training and professional association.
  • For the first time in our history, sponsor exhibition space is sold out eight weeks in advance of our annual conference! Only a handful of advertising opportunities to partner with ISA at conference remain. New partners this year include Artnet, Chubb, Eli Wilner & Co., Freeman's Auction, Great Gatsby's,, Prices 4 Antiques, The Potomack Company, Stevens Company, William Bunch Auctions and Worthpoint, while our longstanding supporters, Bonham's, Collector Systems,, Heritage, Jackson's, and Quinns maintain their commitment to ISA. 
    This is an indisputable indicator that networking with loyal ISA appraisers is increasingly recognized as a significant opportunity for industry allies. It also speaks to the strength of our conference program. Many thanks to our Resource Development Committee chair, Fred Winer, for organizing the RDC's directed efforts over the past two years to this dramatic result.
  • In March, 2014, we completed a three-year process of significantly tightening and raising our credentialing and requalification policies. Our requalification requirement is the most rigorous in the industry. In addition to 85 hours of continuing education and current USPAP compliance, every ISA member is required to attend our 15 hour requalification course every five years. Our Requalification Course covers advancements in appraisal theory and methodology and reports are submitted for peer and instructor review. In choosing to strictly enforce our unique requalification requirements, ISA demonstrates faith in the professionalism of our members and your commitment to advancing excellence. Requiring uniform adherence to our standards also ensures that the public's trust in the ISA credential is well placed. 
  • Our unique approach of marrying appraisal theory and methodology to advanced product knowledge, and a collaborative culture of shared expertise, is gaining recognition as the gold standard in the discipline of appraising.
  • Another very strong financial year, where we have added significantly to ISA's reserves and long-term economic health and security.
What's New and on the Horizon: Education and Credentialing
  • In 2014, more than 500 members participated in ISA's online and onsite courses. Hundreds of members have now participated in our new, state-of-the-art, dynamic online learning system, including 68 new members who have begun our Core Course in Appraisal Theory and Methodology at their own pace. Our 2014 Educational Roundup may be found here.
  • In 2014, ISA instructors Leon Castner and Cathy Peters became qualified by the AQB to teach USPAP, enabling ISA to offer members USPAP compliance in-house.
  • Also for the first time, USPAP 15 hour and 7 hour courses are available to our members through our online platform.
  • ISA's Requalification Course is now available online, allowing members who are challenged to find the time or resources to travel to requalify, an affordable and accessible way to maintain our hard-earned credential. 
  • Expanded Asian Studies courses are in development. ISA's Asian Studies Week 2015 will be held at the Northern Illinois University campus in Naperville, Illinois. In June, two courses will be offered: Dr. Daphne Rosenzweig's course: The Appraisal of Japanese Prints, and a new course developed by Susan Lahey, A Foundation in Asian Ceramics. A total of six related courses are planned to be available by Spring 2016. An Asian Studies Specialty will be available to candidates who complete a minimum number of required courses. 
  • The Appraisal of Antiques and Residential Contents Course Manual has begun a full color
    update and content revision under a taskforce chaired by ISA Board Secretary, Libby Holloway. Substantial new content will be added including comprehensive chapters on research methodology, comparable selection criteria, and advanced report writing. 
  • An Educational Taskforce, chaired by Judith Martin, ISA CAPP, reviewed our credentialing process and suggested adjustments to our report submission standards, which were adopted by the Board. The taskforce represented a broad spectrum of ISA members including board members, committee chairs and our Director of Education. CAPP candidates will now submit a single Broad Evidence Appraisal Report. This accomplishes the objective of testing proper methodology for different types of assignments. It prepares our CAPPs for assignments for litigation support and positions ISA as a leader in methodology training for our highest level of credentialing. A summary of the new requirements may be found here.
  • ISA held several highly successful educational webinars, including How to Write a Broad Evidence Report by Leon Castner, ISA CAPP, which was attended by 70 ISA appraisers and colleagues. If you missed it, sign up for the archived version here.
What's New and On the Horizon: Services to Members
  • Website optimization and enhancement: Members are reporting a noticeable increase in referrals from the ISA webpages. This is not surprising. As analytics reveal, hits to our Find an ISA Member search have increased by 544% over last year. Direct links from Google have increased by 664% over last year (8,212 vs. 1,236).  Newly elected Board member Perri Guthrie has taken on the project of reviewing our entire website. Look for updates and enhancements in 2015. 
  • ISA has continued to focus on assisting members to successfully market their appraisal practices. Each year at conference we unveil a new, professionally designed resource. This year, we have produced an ISA client-oriented newsletter, focused on specialized, appraisal-related content of interest to gatekeepers and prospective and existing appraisal clients. This positions our members as experts in the appraisal industry, which has the potential to be more effective in building credibility than direct promotion. Like all other ISA promotional materials, the newsletter will be customizable and available to all ISA members through the Member Resources link on the website. 
  • For a complete list of how ISA is working to help members market our practices, see this blog post, and don't miss Small Business Results President, Shelly Berman-Rubera's presentation at Assets on Growing and Propelling your Appraisal Practice.
  • The ISA Membership Committee and staff are in the process of designing an integrated plan
    our first formal membership recruitment campaign. Over the past few years, ISA has benefited by an infusion of new members, bringing vitality and new ideas for programs and benefits for members to our society. We are investigating what has attracted these new members, and how we can encourage this wave of enthusiasm for ISA to continue to benefit our society. Judith Martin will be chairing the committee.
What's New and On the Horizon: Industry Recognition, Standing and Collaboration
  • ISA is in the process of designing a directed campaign to raise the profile of the ISA credential with industry users in the Insurance, Estate Planning and Legal Communities. Look for details and announcements over the next few months, including a series of webinars comprising a Professional Education Exchange between ISA and Chubb.
  • The first in a collaborative series of educational programs with industry leaders and experts
    was launched with a strongly-attended webinar offered by Eli Wilner on frame valuation and the reconstruction of the monumental frame for Washington Crossing the Delaware.
  • ISA's application for sponsorship in The Appraisal Foundation was approved early in 2014. This allowed our society a meaningful voice in the development of new proposed Minimum Criteria Standards for Personal Property Appraisers. Formal sponsorship increases ISA's credibility as an industry leader, and allows for more significant input into advocating for appropriate standards. 
  • The Affinity Business Partner (ABP) program is attracting new business alliances and sources of referrals for ISA members, and is formalizing our relationships with existing friends and sponsors.
  • Our conference roster of speakers reads like a Who’s Who of industry leaders, each recruited for recognized expertise in discovering, weighing and applying the often-overlooked critical impacts to value: Provenance, Quality, Rarity, Originality, Condition and Current Market Trends. Included are renowned scholars from Winterthur, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, premiere gallerists, distinguished principals and departments heads from Christie’s, Freeman’s, Gurr Johns, the IRS, NYU, and Rago. Please visit our conference program here.
What's On the Horizon: Implementation of ISA's Three-Year Strategic Plan

In November 2014, the ISA Board of Directors, Education Director and ISA staff participated in a strategic planning retreat to prioritize and plan for the continuing success of our Society. At our March meeting, your board will review, finalize and formally approve the plan. The wording of the mission of our society may change slightly, but remains focused on advancing appraisal excellence. Once approved, the strategic plan will be available to members. Highlights include advancing ISA's industry standing among users of appraisal services, growing membership to 1000 by the close of 2016, and continuing to increase benefits for members, including expanded educational programming.

A taskforce chaired by Board Vice-President Christine Guernsey will work with Executive Director Joe Jackson and staff to identify specific goals and plan strategies to ensure implementation of ISA's Strategic Three-Year Plan.  
A Call to Volunteerism: Be the Change You Hope to See in ISA!

I close my second New Year's post as your President, with a call to volunteerism. Implementation of
our strategic plan, increasing benefits to members, raising our educational standards, growing membership: All are achievements dependent on the time and efforts of dedicated volunteer members donating many hundreds of hours a year with the singular goal of advancing our society.

Be the change you hope to see in ISA! In a few weeks, ISA Vice President Christine Guernsey will be blogging to you about specific volunteer opportunities. We need more human resources to continue on the path of advancing our Society. If you approve of the direction of ISA, join us! If you don't, join us and help redirect!

I wish us all a healthy and prosperous 2015 as we continue to grow together. I look forward to seeing you in Philadelphia, to continue our legacy of sharing a cocktail and a war story, laughing and learning together.  

Warmest wishes,

Cindy Charleston-Rosenberg, ISA CAPP
ISA President