Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What Qualifies An Appraiser as An Expert or Specialist?


The terms “expert” and “specialist” are often used by appraisers in promoting their appraisal practices.   What do these terms mean within the industry and to the general public?  

Under the USPAP competency rule, a personal property appraiser may appraise a wide variety of objects within their field,  and the increasing market for appraisal services has prompted many members to advertise their practices.  Therefore, ISA provides some voluntary terminology to create proactive advertisements for members on the ISA website, individual member websites, and in other print and online sources.

1. A generalist is an appraiser who appraises a broad range of properties.  Generalists are critical to the appraisal profession, often appraising large estates and other complex assignments that encompass many areas of knowledge.  When necessary, a competent generalist consults with and acknowledges specialists and experts in creating a thorough appraisal report.

2. A specialist is an appraiser who primarily concentrates on a specific property and regularly performs appraisals of that property type.  A specialist often has additional education in a limited and dedicated field.  A specialist usually has more knowledge and experience than a generalist in a particular property type, but is not as knowledgeable as an expert in the field.

3. An expert is an appraiser with comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a highly concentrated field as a result of extensive education and experience.  Expertise is normally gained after many years of formal education, self-study, market experience, scholarly research, presentation and publication, or a combination thereof.  Only an appraiser working at the highest levels within a field should be considered an expert.

These suggested terms are not mutually exclusive and an appraiser may be any combination of a generalist, a specialist, and an expert.  For example, an appraiser can be a fine arts generalist, a specialist in American Abstract Expressionism, and an expert on Mark Rothko.  Or, an appraiser can be a generalist in Antiques and Residential Contents (ARC), a specialist in furniture, and an expert in Duncan Phyfe.

Carefully and accurately representing your appraisal service is required by USPAP and ISA’s Code of Ethics, and vital to both building public trust in the appraisal profession and effectively promoting your business.

A special thanks to the Taskforce on Expertise and Specialization members Kirsten Smolensky, ISA AM and Scott Hale, ISA AM. As well as Board members Selma Paul, ISA CAPP and Christine Guernsey, ISA CAPP for their help in formulating the statement.

Cindy Charleston-Rosenberg, ISA CAPP
Vice President, ISA
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 An appraiser must: (1) be competent to perform the assignment; (2) acquire the necessary competency to perform the assignment; or (3) decline or withdraw from the assignment.  Competency Rule, USPAP 2012-2013 Ed., pg. U-11.  More detail concerning the Competency Rule is available in USPAP.

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