Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ask an Instructor: Office Hours and Appraising Experience

ISA members are invited to send in their questions on all things appraising and education to ISA's instructors. One of ISA's instructors will share answers on the ISA Now Blog. Please send questions to

Question: When is the next Office Hours webinar?

Answer: The next Office Hours with the Director of Education will be held on December 5th at 2pm CST. It’s a free webinar open to all ISA members for a lively question and answer session on the topics of your choice. Mark your calendar now!

Question: I’m having a little bit of trouble obtaining my 700 USPAP-compliant hours to reach the ISA Accredited Member (AM) level. Any suggestions for ways to gain more appraisal-specific experience hours?

Answer: Yes! I can certainly help. There are lots of ways for you to gain qualified hours. Remember that the hours must be towards the development and report of a USPAP-compliant appraisal. Thus, the hours can be your actual time spent performing the appraisal, both billable hours and non-billable (gratis) hours. Contact me today at to discuss a plan of action that would work best for you

- Meredith Meuwly, ISA CAPP
Director of Education

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Signing Your Appraisal Report

Meredith Meuwly, ISA CAPP
I was recently asked about where you should sign your appraisal report. It may seem like a silly question, but it’s actually not. Although USPAP does not dictate the form, format, or style of how to prepare an appraisal report, it is very specific in that the written appraisal report must include a signed certification statement. See USPAP 2016-2017 Edition Standards Rule 8-2(a)(xii) for Appraisal Reports and Standards Rule 8-2(b)(xii) for Restricted Appraisal Reports, which each state, “include a signed certification in accordance with Standards Rule 8-3.”

The ISA Appraisal Report Writing Standards states that “the appraisal must contain the appraiser’s signature plus the signatures of non-dissenting collaborating appraisers, if any.” See Lesson 17-4 in your Core Course manual, revised April 2016 edition. Thus, USPAP requires the certification statement be signed, and ISA requires that the appraisal report be signed. Thus, “where do you sign your appraisal report?” becomes a really good question.

The answer is one of two ways:
  1. Include the certification statement in the Cover document of your appraisal report as a separate page with its own signature. Then you can continue writing and sign the report again.
  2. Include the certification statement at the very end of the Cover document and sign immediately thereafter, so that you have a signed certification. There is no need to sign the report again.

The key point to remember is that you cannot have other text after the certification and then sign the Cover document. You need to be sure to sign the certification statement. With this information in mind, most appraisers choose option 2, as it kills two birds with one stone by allowing them to sign the appraisal once, right after the certification statement.

And let’s not forget that USPAP also specifies in Standards Rule 8-3 that “An appraiser who signs any part of the appraisal report, including a letter of transmittal, must also sign this certification.” As such, anyone signing the report must also sign the certification statement, whether that is in one place or two places in the Cover document.

As the requests for charitable donation and other types of appraisals are likely to increase as we near the year’s end, now is a great time to review your appraisal formats to make sure you are signing your appraisal report in the right place.

For questions and/or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at

Meredith Meuwly, ISA CAPP
Director of Education

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

California, Here We Come!

I am delighted to invite you to my home state of California, March 9-12, for the International Society of Appraisers’ annual conference: Assets 2018 - The Gold Standard: Innovation & Valuation.

California’s mild climate and bountiful landscape are as appealing as the full slate of exceptional educational opportunities being offered. With in-depth and hands-on presentations, Assets 2018 is designed to both enrich and strengthen our professional appraisal practices.

K2 Intelligence’s Senior Manager, Jordan Arnold will share innovative technology and advancing new standards related to authenticity and provenance; Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Decorative Arts and Design Assistant Curator, Staci Steinberger will explore innovative California design from missions to Modernism; Heritage Auctions’ Director Holly Sherratt will discuss Post-War and Contemporary Fine Art trends; and Brooke Sivo, Bonham’s Director of American Furniture and Decorative Arts will provide an analysis of good, better and best examples in American furniture and silver.

Do not miss Ansel Adams Gallery Director of Photography Sales, Brittany Moorefield’s good, better and best discussion, Bruce Orr’s talk on studio glass, Tim Luke’s expertise on Street art and Rosalie Sayyah, aka Antique Roadshow’s Rhinestone Rosie’s guidance on costume jewelry. These are only a few among many other worthwhile presentations scheduled for conference.

Consider signing up early for a one-day Advanced Appraisal Methodology Course. This fresh and compelling new class is being prepared and presented by ISA’s Director of Education, Meredith Meuwly, ISA CAPP and ISA’s Core Course Instructor, Kirsten Smolensky, JD, ISA CAPP with focus on relevant personal property case studies. And while in California, you may also wish to enroll in ISA’s onsite 7-hour USPAP Class and/or our two-day onsite Requalification Course, both available immediately following conference.

Gardens at the Huntington Library

Customized tours include exploration of one of the world’s great cultural, research and educational centers, The Huntington Library, Collections and Botanical Gardens. Tour the Gamble House, an outstanding example of American Arts and Crafts style architecture with house and furnishings designed by architects Charles and Henry Green; or see the acclaimed exhibit: Taking Shape: Degas as Sculptor at the Norton Simon Museum, an institution known for its encompassing collections of 19th and 20th century art.

I know you will enjoy the quintessential California style and surroundings in Pasadena at the Westin, near stunning gardens, first-class art and historic architecture. Pasadena is within proximity of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Hollywood; and not too far from the beach communities of Santa Monica, Venice and Malibu. It is a perfect venue to network with fellow colleagues, friends both old and new, as well as industry experts.

Please take a moment to look at ISA’s comprehensive Assets 2018 program and to register early for savings.

Looking forward to seeing you in California. Don’t forget to bring your sunglasses!

-  Perri Guthrie, ISA CAPP, Vice President of ISA

Monday, October 2, 2017

What's This Print Worth?

Daniel W. Deyell, ISA, MA, MTS
Inevitably, art appraisers get the email or text message: “I have this art work on paper; what’s it worth?” Just about as inevitably, I have to say, “the value of the frame!” I may be exaggerating, but potential clients can have trouble discerning original works of art from reproductions, and may not understand that reproductions tend to be worth far less than the original.

As an appraiser, it helps to understand the basic processes of printmaking in order to determine whether the item you’re appraising is a reproduction or not. In this post, I will describe the main techniques and touch on some important developments in the world of printmaking so you’ll have a better understanding next time you see one of these items.

What Is a Print?

The original print is an image that has been conceived by the artist as a print. It is produced as a print, not as a drawing, painting, or three-dimensional work. Each print is considered an original; no one print or drawing or painting is considered the original prototype from which other prints are made. The size of the edition, or the number of prints produced, is decided by the artist and the prints (after a small number of artist’s proofs) are numbered sequentially. Subsequent production of any prints or print editions should be differentiated by “states” of the prints and suffer corresponding depreciation of value.

Note: the blanket statement, “[just] the value of the frame,” may not be always accurate for reproductions if they gain value outside the field of art (as a recent auction of movie posters demonstrated), but if the appraiser’s focus is works of art rather than collectibles, reproductions are substantially less important than any object directly created by an artist. Additionally, some prints by artists (think Paul Gauguin's monoprints or works by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec) may be of significant value. Appraisers are encouraged to do research and approach the topic of prints with care when assigning value to an item.

Printmaking Processes

While the field of printmaking and multiples today has become muddier as contemporary artists explore techniques of photo-mechanical processes for their own art creation, it’s important for appraisers to get acquainted with the classical processes of creating multiple art images first, before venturing into contemporary artistic multiples processing.

Printmaking processes
(courtesy of the Printers' National Environmental Assistance Center)

Classic methods of processing multiples (like etchings, engravings, relief prints, lithography, and serigraphy) and even contemporary processes (like some giclée prints) result in works of art because the artists intentionally use those processes to create individual works of art unique to the medium. The fact that a work is created in multiple numbers of prints or sculptures is a result of the artist’s intention, not a result of the efficiency of the process.

Based on this criteria, an artist who employs offset lithography or giclée printing to reproduce the image of a painting does not create a new work of art; if an appraiser can reference a framed picture back to an identical painted picture, the subject of investigation is a reproduction and deserves the evaluation, “only the value of the frame!”

The traditional forms of printmaking include:
  • Intaglio (also known as “gravure” to commercial printers). Includes etching, engraving, drypoint, aquatint, and mezzotint. Images are created on a metal or plastic plate by direct incisions, or by using acid to incise lines or pits into the plates. These incisions or pits are filled with ink, which is then transferred to a medium such as paper to produce an image.
  • Relief. Includes wood block, lino cut, and stonecut. In relief printmaking, material is removed from a base of wood, linoleum, stone, or even potato to leave a relief that is then inked and pressed against a medium such as paper to produce an image.

    Relief carving for stone cut print

  • Planographic. Includes lithograph, serigraph (aka silkscreen), and stencil. Lithographic stones or metal plates are prepared to receive oily or greasy drawings which adhere ink to the drawings, and are then transferred to a medium such as paper to produce an image. Stencils can be created using a variety of media, and are sometimes attached to screens (now usually fine nylon screens), through which ink is pressed with a squeegee onto a medium like paper to produce an image. Planographic printmaking usually does not include offset (or photo) litho, inkjet, or giclée, although some conceptual artists have deliberately used those processes for creating multiples.
Pulling an image from a lithograph stone

Printmaking through History

Prints from the 14th and 15th centuries to the early modern era were not usually numbered. They may carry the names of the printer as well as the artist in the image.

Since the early 20th century, traditional prints have usually included signatures in pencil with notations of print number out of (/) a numbered edition. Signatures however, do not guarantee authenticity of a traditional process, nor do they guarantee a limit on the number of works in an addition or numbers of editions or states. (For instance, a very well-known twentieth century artist issued editions of 5000 silkscreens each for a number of regions of North America and Europe). Any work containing a signature added (in pencil or pen, for instance) to an image that already has a painted signature is more than likely a reproduction.

Passing ink through a screen with a squeegee

In the past few decades, a number of artists have begun to explore computer-generated art, including digital printing with processes like giclée (which confusingly is more often a popular process to produce high-quality reproductions). Photography, which also can result in multiple images, is considered a completely separate field of artistic process.

What to Remember About Printmaking

The differentiation of original works of art as multiples from reproductions occurs when the artist is directly involved to some degree in the creation of the works of art. If the work being examined is directly the result of the creative process, it is an original print.

If the work is a copy of an image created at another time, in another size, in a different medium whether by the artist or not, whether signed (again) or not, it has been produced to be marketed more broadly without further artistic contribution and it is a reproduction.
Artist wiping an etching plate with ink

Daniel Deyell is a member of the International Society of Appraisers, He has twenty years’ experience in the field of fine arts and earned degrees in art and art history from University of Regina and University of British Columbia supplemented with professional museum and arts management certificates from Banff Centre and American Law Institute/American Bar Association. He has worked with public art galleries across Western Canada, including Mackenzie Art Gallery, Mendel Art Gallery, Glenbow, Alberta College of Art Gallery, Muttart Art Gallery, Penticton Art Gallery, Vancouver Art Gallery and International Museum of Cultures in Dallas in varying roles from preparatory to curatorial to managerial. At the Mendel, he prepared condition reports and digitized the catalogued collection of 4,400 objects for inclusion in a museum collection database.

Recommended Reading:
Glossary of commonly-used terms related to printmaking

Would you like to be an ISA blog contributor? Email us

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Announcing Your 2017-2018 Board of Directors

Voting for ISA's 2017-2018 Board of Directors has ended and we would like to congratulate our three recently elected members.

Joining the Board of Directors for a second 3-year term:

Perri Guthrie, ISA CAPP and Fred Winer, ISA CAPP

Beginning his first 3-year term with the Board of Directors:

Robert Hittel, ISA CAPP

These three members will join the returning members of the Board of Directors for the 2017-2018 year:
Christine Guernsey, ISA CAPP
Hughene Acheson, ISA AM
Michelle Conliffe, ISA CAPP
Monica Fidel, ISA CAPP
Suzanne Sellers Houck, ISA CAPP
Terry L. Oldham, ISA AM

ISA would like to specially thank Elise Waters Olonia, ISA AM, who is concluding her term on the board in November, for her significant contributions to ISA and the Board of Directors.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Ask an Instructor: Updated USPAP Standards and Webinars

ISA members are invited to send in their questions on all things appraising and education to ISA's instructors. One of ISA's instructors will share answers on the ISA Now Blog. Please send questions to

Question: To which USPAP standards do I write if I start an assignment in the Fall of 2017, but my final report is completed in January 2018?

Answer: Thanks for asking a great question. This is a very common question we instructors receive every fall/winter when the USPAP standards change. Even if your assignment starts in 2017, even if your effective date is in 2017, and even if your inspection date is in 2017, if the issue date of your report is in 2018, then you must write to the 2018-2019 USPAP standards. You are responsible for knowing and abiding by all of the 2018-2019 standards as of January 1, 2018, regardless if you have taken the USPAP update course or not and regardless if you have in hand the current manual or not. But don’t panic yet! Your ISA Education team will make sure you are aware of the changes coming so that you will be prepared.

Question: What are the webinars being scheduled for 2018? Have you thought about having one about (fill in the blank)?

Answer: We have six webinars being scheduled for 2018 that can be on a variety of topics. Have a specific topic or speaker in mind? Let me know! Want to present a webinar for the organization and earn more Professional Development Credits (PDCs)? Let me know too! Our best presentations have been recommendations from the membership, so let me hear from you.

- Meredith Meuwly, ISA CAPP
Director of Education

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Collecting Information for Appraisal Reports

Libby Holloway, ISA CAPP
“A picture is worth a thousand words” is a saying that we are all familiar with. It isn’t clear to cliché historians whether this phrase was coined in 1911 by newspaper editor Tess Flanders, earlier from a paraphrased comment by Napoleon Bonaparte or even earlier by Confucius. But, the statement rings true no matter who said it first.

In the Core Course, you are instructed to take clear photos and write descriptions that are thorough enough to enable the reader, who may not be familiar with art or antiques, to pick the item out in the room. Different objects require different levels of detail in their descriptions. For example, there is no need to write three sentences to describe assorted used pots and pans, nor is there a need to photograph each separately. However, you will likely need to take multiple photos of a piece of art. Make sure you are qualified to appraise the types of items you are tasked with valuing. If you are, you should be able to determine the detail needed to adequately describe the objects.

When you are on-site collecting information for your appraisal report, make sure you take the time to take the right number of good quality photos. Luckily, digital photography has made it affordable to take enough photos to insure you have gathered the information needed. I generally take 4 corner shots of each room, then methodically work my way around with group shots of less valuable items and singular shots of more important pieces. Practice working with your camera so you can adjust for different light levels, different finishes and small details such as silver marks. Learn to take photos of items under glass or with shiny surfaces. Carry solid dark and light cloths that can be used as a background for close photos. If you need more help with photographing objects, online tutorials can be a great resource and should be available for almost every type of camera.

No matter how much experience you have in the field you appraise in, there will be times when you aren’t sure about a piece. If you think you may be seeking help from someone else, you should take lots of photos from different angles and capture details such as marks, signatures or other characteristics that can be used for dating and identification. Be aware of what those characteristics are for each type of property you are inspecting. Did you know the number of toes on a dragon can be important? Did you know that some flaws show up in a photo taken with a flash that you might not be able to see in lower light? Your photos can give hints to an expert that you might not even have the words to express. ISA's Fine Arts and Antiques, Furnishings and Decorative Arts specialty courses include photography and description writing tips for that purpose.

Ceramic pieces may include markings that
will help you or another expert identify the piece.

Since condition is important to determining value, make sure you know how to properly photograph and explain condition issues or terms for types of damage. You might say that a finish is bleached from light exposure, silver is scratched from improper cleaning or that a print has suffered from exposure to moisture. Take clear photographs of the damage showing the extent of the damage and the overall condition of the piece. A scratch on a piece of art glass may not affect value if there are also large chips in the rim.

Speaking of words, in addition to informational photos, remember that you must use terms that make sense to your reader to describe the object. If your client is a knowledgeable collector, then pull out the ten-dollar words that you both know. If your client is an attorney who may know the law but not technical fine or decorative art terminology then use words they can relate to. Or, if it is necessary to use technical terms, include precise definitions in a glossary in the report addendum. Avoid using flowery, subjective language in appraisal writing. You shouldn’t describe something as beautiful, tasteless, tacky or glorious (yes, I’ve truly read those in appraisals before). Be careful using terms such as rare or one-of-a-kind unless you are sure that the industry considers that to be true. For information on important terminology in modern design, see our recent blog post by Valerie Hale, ISA CAPP.

Here is a new saying for you: “A picture is worth a thousand words, but a thousand words can’t replace a good photograph.”

- Libby Holloway, ISA CAPP

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Importance of Continuous Learning for Appraisers

By Kelly Juhasz, ISA AM
Whether you’ve been an appraiser for 20 years or two years, acquiring new knowledge is important not only to your business but also to your own well-being. We often conveniently put this notion out of mind, but what truly and deeply motivates us isn’t money. It’s knowledge.

As a qualified appraiser, I am required to stay current with USPAP and ISA’s membership criteria, thus ensuring a high standard of appraisal service to the public. So, I am continuing to learn. But is being required to learn enough to keep me motivated and engaged? Not for me. I’m guessing it’s not enough for you either.

Why Keep Learning New Skills?

Many of you who know me as an appraiser likely don’t know that I am an expert in adult learning. For corporations and higher educational institutions throughout North America, I have designed courses and tools to increase performance and motivation in the workplace. I also have helped many arts organizations design programming to engage audiences and expand their purposes.

From a professional viewpoint, I would like to share three key factors that motivate students of all ages to continuously learn and acquire new skills.
  1. Mastery: By building your competencies and skills, you can more easily establish credibility and trust with your clients, two critical components of the appraisal business. By gaining a deeper understanding within your current specialty or expanding your specialties, you will challenge and reward yourself with new knowledge and increased confidence.
  2. Purpose: Acquiring new knowledge will help you solve problems for your clients and colleagues. By providing solutions, you will be heard and recognized for what you know. It will provide opportunities for new business and it will keep you relevant.
  3. Enjoyment and Engagement: As an appraiser, you have a high degree of independence that most people in their work do not have. You have the control to direct your own learning in areas that interest you. You have choice. Create an environment for yourself that is rich, rewarding, and highly satisfying while running a successful appraisal business. 
Realizing successes focused on these three motivating factors starts with a commitment to continuing to learn and acquire new knowledge.

Five Ways to Continue Learning Right Now

Here are five ways to continue your learning in a meaningful way that you can do anytime as a member of ISA:
  1. Volunteer with your local chapter, present at the ISA annual conference, or become an ISA Ambassador. By donating time and expertise in the appraisal community, you will learn from other appraisers. Together, you will solve a problem or create a quality event, workshop or working group and, in return, help to increase the overall expertise of all ISA members. (Purpose)

  2. Add or expand your area of specialty. ISA offers many opportunities to expand your knowledge into other appraisal specialties. If you appraise art, you can take courses to learn more about prints or Asian art, or expand into antiques and modern furniture. I know that I prefer online and self-study courses so that I don’t incur travel expenses and don’t have to leave my office. The Foundation for Appraisal Education also offers annual scholarships for courses; don't hesitate to apply.

    Remember, everything works in cycles. Although some specialty areas seem to be shrinking, and though there may be objects you don’t currently receive many calls about, you’ll always have the chance to use your new knowledge. The cycle will change, market demand will increase for items, and you’ll be confident, armed with your new knowledge, and ready to apply it in your appraisal practice when those calls do come in. (Mastery)

  3. Join a community board, advisory group or committee for an organization focused on your area(s) of specialty. We often think that we will be the ones providing the benefits by sharing our knowledge sitting as an expert, but, in fact, it works both ways. Getting involved will help you notice trends in the market, consumer interests and tastes, and also expand your list of contacts. It will also lead you to new business. You will find that you will learn and receive more than you give. (Enjoyment and Engagement)

  4. Attend Chapter meetings and presentations. With the help of colleagues, for example, the Canadian Chapter of ISA features invited guest speakers as opportunities for new learning. And even more rewarding, fellow appraisers prepare detailed presentations based on their areas of expertise for other Chapter members. These presentations create a bridge between ISA members from across the country and from various specialties, and provide an opportunity to learn together and get to know each other better. There is nothing more challenging than presenting to a highly skilled and knowledgeable group like our appraiser colleagues. (Mastery and Engagement)

  5. Increase your business skills. Find courses and programs directly tied to small business management, marketing and finance (such as calculating blockage discount equations). You will be able to focus your time on tasks that matter and learn when to bring in outside expertise that isn't your core strength. Also, check out the ISA Means Business! Toolbox for resources that can help you increase your business acumen. You will reduce your stress and enjoy running a business better. (Mastery and Enjoyment)

As an appraiser, you may feel like you are on your own, but with ISA, you are never alone.

Kelly Juhasz is an Accredited Member of the International Society of Appraisers, President of the Canadian Chapter, and a certified expert in adult learning. Her work in professional development has improved the performance of thousands of adults across North America and her appraisal knowledge is recognized by government agencies and cultural institutions nation-wide. She holds a Masters in Archival Science from Canada’s highest ranked university and a degree in Art History. She has worked on a range of artwork from Dutch Masters such as Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn and Gerard Dou to contemporary works by William Kentridge and Peter Doig. Kelly was the winner of the 2017 ISA Rising Leader Award. 

Recommended Reading:
Pink, Daniel. (2009). Drive. Riverhead Books.

Would you like to be an ISA blog contributor? Email us

Thursday, September 7, 2017

How Do I Make the Most Out of Networking Events?

Cris Drugan, ISA AM, MIPAV[OS]
Are you trying to grow your appraisal business but unsure how to market yourself? My advice is to attend networking events to start spreading the word about yourself and what you do.

Studies have shown that it takes at least six touches before customers consider using your product or service. Wouldn’t you like to double up on those touches by having others mention you in their conversations? Attending networking events gets your pitch to a number of people at one time and allows you short one-on-one time to begin developing relationships.

People need to know and like you before they trust you enough to purchase or recommend your service. Remember, by recommending you, they are putting their name and brand on the line too. It will take time to reach the “trust” stage with your potential customers, but when you get there, the work you put in will be worth it!

Finding the Right Event for You

If you are just starting your appraisal business or are developing your marketing plan, look for the following types of events. Some may work for you better than others and fees range from <$10 per event to yearly memberships costing hundreds of dollars.

Here are some suggestions:
  1. Local Chamber of Commerce – membership-based 
  2. Business to Business groups (B to B) - membership-based 
  3. Business Network International (BNI) - membership-based
  4. TEAM Network groups - membership-based
  5. Eventbrite groups – individual and membership-based groups
These types of events are a great starting point. Once you have attended a few and made some connections, you can find other private networking groups to join.

How to Survive (and Thrive) at Networking Events

There are many strategies to working a networking event. My suggestions here follow the “Know, Like, Trust” approach I mentioned earlier.

Here are some important tips to remember:

Listen: Take stock of your interactions with other event attendees and make sure you’re using your time to pitch effectively. Think: What does the other person do? Are you satisfied with their knowledge and expertise? Can your clients use their services? Do you trust them enough to represent themselves and your company professionally? Get to know your potential customers and how you can help them.

Don’t be a chicken: Hurry around to as many people as you can with a fist full of business cards. Introduce yourself, your business, hand them a business card, and ask for theirs in return. Quick and to the point, right? But I’m sure you can spot the drawbacks – you won’t ever reach the stage of “Like” in your relationship with your customers. It’s much more effective to take the time to make a good impression and a real connection with individuals.

The Elevator Pitch

Many networking groups will have events where businesses and individuals can give a short, direct summary of their business for attendees. Developing your pitch can help you not only at these events, but can also ensure you’re able to talk positively about your appraising business at any given moment.

They call it an “elevator pitch” for a reason – you never know who you’ll have the opportunity to meet! Not to mention, being able to speak about your appraising business is an important step in building trust with potential clients.

Here are some tips for developing your elevator pitch:
  1. Keep it short. Due to the number of people who attend some networking events, there may be a time limit on your pitch. Be considerate of others and make sure you stick to that limit. You’ll also benefit from keeping people engaged and wanting more!
  2. Practice makes perfect. Pre-write your pitch, time it and practice it. You’ll sound much more confident when you know what you want to say about your appraising business.
  3. Change it up. Don’t try to list everything you do in 30 seconds. Change it up now and again. Talk about the different services you offer in separate pitches. If you don’t keep listeners engaged, they’ll quit listening!
Having trouble getting started? Take a look at these different styles of pitches, courtesy of the Cuyahoga Falls (Ohio) Chamber of Commerce:
  1. The Trainer: Present as if the attendees are new employees and you’re training them on how to market your service.
  2. The Target Market: give specific names of companies you want to talk with, ask them who they know or describe specific types of business you want (or don’t want) to do business with.
  3. The Storyteller: Tell a specific story without using names of someone you helped and what the result was. (Remember, maintaining client confidentiality is part of being a USPAP-compliant appraiser!)
  4. The Comparison: Compare your business to another, without naming them, and show specifically how you're different. Give a list of benefits, quantify them if possible.
  5. The Rambler: Ramble on about unrelated subjects. Win a narcissist award. People will listen, but it won't help you grow your business.
Starting a business as an appraiser can be intimidating, but I hope this post took some of the guesswork out of networking. Remember, it takes at least six touches to make an impression, so keep attending those networking events, building your relationships, and making meaningful connections.

- Cris Drugan, ISA AM, MIPAV[OS]

Chris is the principal of Emerald Art Services LLC in Akron, Ohio. Contact Cris through his website at or by phone or text at 234-207-8686. 

Looking for more information that will help you build and grow your appraising business? The ISA Means Business! Toolbox provides tips, marketing guides, advertising materials and more to all ISA members.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Becoming an Appraiser (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Jillian Van Volkenburgh
I must preface, I am not an appraiser… yet. I just completed Module 16 of the Online ISA Core Course in Appraisal Studies. I am officially past the halfway point!

Are you thinking about becoming a personal property appraiser? That was me a few months ago – I’m relocating to the East Coast and wanted to begin a career I could take with me. I would like to share my recent entrée into this new chapter of my life with ISA.

Education is an Investment 

I am currently the Director of Education for a large art nonprofit in Northwest Indiana. I am often asked to speak to students about creative careers. The one thing that I stress is that education, regardless of your area of study, is an investment. To invest in your “future you,” you also must invest two incredibly valuable things: time and money. (I know I am not an appraiser yet, so this is not a formal valuation on time or money).

When I made my first steps into researching ISA, I called their headquarters in Chicago. I wanted to know two things: how long the course would be and how much it would cost.

As I mentioned, I work for a nonprofit, so cost was a determining factor for me. And as an adult with full-time adult responsibilities, making a new commitment can be harrowing. Luckily, I found that ISA’s courses and education materials are not unreasonably priced, and that the time I have to complete the coursework is absolutely manageable. But I was definitely nervous about that time commitment before I started!

Those That Appraise Together, Stay Together: Commitment 

Two of the best decisions my husband and I made jointly were getting gym memberships and joining ISA. You thought I was going to say getting married, right? As I alluded to in the previous paragraph, commitment, eh… scares me a little bit. Well, he convinced the girl who vowed never to marry, well, to marry. That was the very best decision that I reluctantly agreed to - now we are on this journey of life, love and appraising together! And I’m glad I have committed to ISA as well.

Joining ISA as a team has many advantages. My husband and I have different strengths and areas of interest. We can discuss the coursework and bounce ideas back and forth. We have ultimately become study buddies. (Yes, I just typed that and he will be mortified for calling him that.) We can challenge each other and celebrate our successes. It even has upped our texting game beyond “Want to get dinner after work?” or “Did you feed the cat?” to “I passed my assignment!”

One important thing to remember, even though I just spent two paragraphs explaining the benefits of joining ISA with my spouse… 

You May Be Unattached, But You Are Not Alone

Even if you haven’t joined ISA with your spouse, that does not mean that you will be alone in your journey toward becoming a professional personal property appraiser. One of the many amazing benefits of joining ISA is that they are setting you up for success. Failure is not their goal. Unlike a certain sadistic college professor that we all have had, they don’t want you to fail. ISA has a number of resources put in place to ensure that you succeed.

First of all, for the online course, you work directly with an instructor via email. The instructor is there not only to evaluate your assessments, but also to answer any questions. Also, you can work with an ISA Ambassador when you first join. Ambassadors are seasoned ISA appraiser that will offer guidance for the year following your completion of the Core Course. There is also a great toolkit - the ISA Means Business! Toolbox - on the ISA website with valuable resources on how to build your business.

As we all know, the Internet is also a social network. Take advantage of it. One site that I have found useful is LinkedIn. I already used LinkedIn for my professional position, but I have extended my network to include ISA appraisers throughout the country. I sent out short messages saying, “Hey, I just wanted to introduce myself. I am becoming an appraiser through the ISA and I wanted to connect with you.” This has opened up dialogue with a number of appraisers who have specialty areas outside of my purview, so they could potentially become great resources in the future.

I Am a Student Again at 40

They say a lady never tells her age, but I will be ethical and truthful in this blog post. I am a few months shy of my 40th birthday. When I was in undergrad, we did not have the option for online learning. I enjoyed academia and being in the classroom and I was not sure if online coursework was for me. I was wrong. I LOVE IT! With a full professional and social schedule, I can dictate when and where I learn. I might be in the comfort of my office or at my local coffee shop. It is fantastic option.

The online lectures are very straightforward and thorough. The instructor gives great examples to illustrate the discussed topics to make them relatable and easy to understand. As a side note, the online proctor is unintentionally funny. His dry humor comes through ever so slightly and unexpectedly.

Read the Chapters First!

The instructor states that at the beginning of each module, you should read the chapter first and then listen to the online lecture before taking the assessment. For the first module, I was like…. oh, I will just listen to the lecture and take the test. When I reached the point to take the assessment, it took me three attempts!

No matter how confident of a person you are, when you see "Failed" in red on your screen, you squirm a bit. Reading the chapters prior to the assessments is critical because the online lectures may not cover everything in the chapter. Always take your instructor’s advice!

A Highlighter is Your Friend 

One study tip I might suggest is making a review packet. Most chapters have a page of review at the end. I made copies of each review sheet and then compiled a quick study packet. Spoiler alert! There is no review for one of the longest chapters in the Core Course Manual, Chapter 12. So l recommend taking notes as you go along and highlight key points through the entirety of the manual.

Find Some “Me Time” 

I recently read a study on the brain and memory retention in Forbes about how multitasking can cause diminished long-term memory and decrease productivity. Even though society commands your attention in every direction with 24-hour ticker tapes on the screen and constant weather/coupon/news updates on your phones, we have to relearn to focus.

Make time to study, especially when you are doing distance learning or the online course. You should set aside time that works around your child/dog/work/Roomba chasing schedule. Give yourself quiet time to absorb the information. Listen, take notes and find a study pattern that works best for you.

Wish Me Luck!

This is is my first of hopefully many blog posts of my adventures in the world of personal property appraising for the ISA website. I will now minimize this screen and begin Module 17. Wish me luck! To be continued…

 - Jillian Van Volkenburgh

Jillian Van Volkenburgh is an aspiring ISA appraiser, currently enrolled in ISA's Core Course in Appraisal Studies. The ISA Core Course is the “original” complete appraisal methodology course for personal property appraising. Its thorough scope includes appraisal objectives, intended uses, market identification and analysis, research methods and skills, ethics and professional conduct, and a detailed presentation of report formats and checklists. Students enrolled in ISA’s Online Core Course program use the same text materials as the onsite course offerings coupled with a series of interactive learning exercises and open book quizzes that must be completed as the course progresses. Learn more about the Online Core Course, our Onsite Core Course, and about becoming an ISA member.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

In Praise of ISA's Job Board

Christine Guernsey, ISA CAPP
I knew that the ISA Job Board was a great idea, but didn’t realize I would be able to utilize it so quickly. Like many of you, I am the sole proprietor of an appraisal practice. I consider my practice successful, but yet, there are always moments of feast or famine throughout the year.

This year has been unusual for my business in that every large collection and important client I have ever appraised for has come back with another need. If I did insurance for them several years ago, they now need an estate appraisal, they're donating a work of art, or they need another insurance update. As appraisers, no matter how busy you become, you never want to say "no" to a great returning customer and risk losing them in the future.

When a past client and now a trustee called early this March with a need for an estate appraisal for his father’s very large Western art collection (over 300 works), I panicked. In addition to Assets, a planned surgery right after Assets, my youngest daughter’s destination wedding in Charleston, and several other appraisals in the works, I really didn’t have the time to take on this new assignment….but how could I say no?

I decided to try the ISA Job Board and see what kind of help I could get. After posting for temporary research help, I received applications from six candidates. Out of those six, I found three appraisers who were familiar with Western art and working towards ISA accreditation and therefore needed qualifying hours of experience. None of this help came from the Dallas area and all work was completed remotely online. I have a template I use for appraisal report work descriptions with sections for comparables which I sent to each appraiser. They researched 10 works at a time, completed the template and included appropriate comparables for me to review and determine the final fair market value for the report.

With the help I received through the Job Board, I was able to complete the appraisal project under deadline while relieving my workload and stress. I also got to assist three appraisers who needed work experience in the field. For the next large job that comes my way, I plan on using the Job Board again. It is great to finally have qualified help on a temporary contract basis and the process could not have gone more smoothly.

Don’t just take my word for it. Your colleagues have had similar great experiences:

Wendy Gerdau, ISA CAPP, of Treasures Estate Concierge Services, California:

"The ISA Job Board has been a fabulous tool for my company. The researchers that applied for part time jobs have turned into full time valued members of the Treasures Estate Concierge Services family. I am looking forward to hiring many more individuals from the ISA Job Board. There is nothing better than ISA members supporting each other, a win-win." 

Linda Matthews, ISA, of Matthews Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico:

"The job board provided me a great opportunity to be a part of a massive art appraisal project, learn a great deal from a CAPP appraiser, get paid for what I love to do AND add a 130 hours towards my AM pathway. A veteran ISA appraiser posted the job, I replied to the ad and was hired. It was that easy! It was a fast way to find work, make money and most importantly learn from others so I can become a better appraiser. It was my first experience getting appraisal work from the job board posting but it won’t be my last!"

Suzanne Houck, ISA CAPP, Houck Asset Verification, Virginia:

"I wish there had been a job board targeted to the appraisal industry when I began my appraisal practice years ago. I love having the opportunity to scan for job opportunities in slow times and to have confidence when looking for help during times of appraisal overload. Even if I’m not looking to post or pick up work, I have enjoyed reading the job posts because I can often connect good candidates who might not have seen the board yet with positions. When looking for help, just knowing my fellow ISA members are reading the board gives me added confidence that I am targeting appraisers well- trained in appraisal methodology and ethics. This job board might be my favorite member benefit!"

Richard J. Meliska, ISA AM, Essex Estate Services, Evanston, IL:

"The ISA job board is a snap to use and postings couldn't be easier to enter. This is my second time using the board and I am looking forward to posting positions as I need additional help. Not only does the ISA have a great pool of talent, but the networking opportunities to find great talent is wonderful." 

If you are temporarily overwhelmed with assignments you couldn’t say no to or are currently underwhelmed with assignments and want to pick up a few extra hours, check out ISA’s new Job Board. You can advertise for ISA qualified help or promote special services you can provide to other appraisers in need. One of the great features of this online benefit is the ability to sign up for alerts when a new position or request is posted.

This is a great new member benefit exclusively created for our ISA members. I urge you all to try the Job Board. It will help you all to accept more assignments and provide further opportunity to meet and work with other qualified ISA appraisers.

- Christine Guernsey, ISA CAPP

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Design Patent in a Nutshell

Valerie Hale, ISA CAPP
When working with 20th-century design items, it's important to know how design patents and trademarks work and to use the correct terminology when describing these items.

Designers hold a bundle of rights to their designs, including intellectual property rights and the right to sell. Typically, production licenses are sold to large manufacturers, though the designer will still be able to control who produces the item and at what cost. Designers also hold trademark rights to their designs, which typically are renewable every ten years for an indefinite period of time. Most collectors of original modern design honor the creative process and want to own a quality item in its true form - these items are known as the "antiques of tomorrow."

When researching or reading a description for a 20th-century design item, you may encounter various terms categorizing the item. This article seeks to provide a quick reference guide for the meaning of these terms. When comparing items you also need to ascertain that you are comparing correct "vintage" or design type.

Original Issue

A design item that was manufactured during the initial period of production in the first conceived state.

Later Issue

An original design by the original manufacturer or currently licensed manufacturer, with minor modifications.

Example: The Eames molded chair has undergone some alterations over the years: the removal of rope edge, the curve of the back has become more inclined, upholstery is now glued to plastic shell. Also, since people are generally larger than they were in the 1950s, the Eames Lounge Chair is now available in the “big & tall” version, which is two and a half inches taller overall with an added seat depth of 1.75 inches. It's important to capture these design details to determine whether you are appraising an original issue item or one manufactured after a certain date.


An item issued after the original production period, typically for a specific reason or period of time. There are a few different categories of reissues:
  • Special edition: A reissue by a specific authorized entity of a design when the original edition is not longer in production or when there has been a slight change to the design or manufacturing process, for example, in the color of materials used. Special editions are usually marked in a way that denotes the reissue, depending on the manufacturer. They are known in the market as a unique entity, and hold value as a reissue or special edition.

    : The Isamu Noguchi Cyclone Rocking Stool produced by Vitra Design Museum, ca. 2001. In the original conceived form, very few of these items were produced. The design was subsequently altered to make a small table with a circular vs. rocking base point.

  • Retired design: A design that was previously retired, but is now being produced and issued again.
  • Emerge from retirement: A return to an original trait of an original design, now a reissue, or to be more technically correct, a later issue.

    Example: The Eames molded chair stopped production due to hazardous materials (fiberglass straws) and disposal issues in the late 1980s. The chair has recently been reintroduced, due to improved manufacturing and material safety. In between, Modernica as well as others produced unauthorized replicas or knockoffs.


An item that apperas, especially at first glance, to be the original item. Retail cost is often substantially less due to cheaper materials, cutting corners in construction, and design variations. Due to differences in construction from the original, knock-offs typically do not violate design patents.


In the general world of furniture and decorative arts, a reproduction is an exact duplicate executed with the intent to deceive. Sometimes, the term is more loosely defined to fit the user’s purpose. Sometimes used interchangeably with "copy" or "replica."


The same concept as a reproduction minus the intent to deceive. However, retailers may use the terms "replica" and "reproduction" more loosely or interchangeably. A good replica is made with the same instructions, material, and care as the original. Also known as a "copy."

Style of

Denotes an item that is made or appears to be like the work of a specific maker or designer. It can also apply when the item produced is close to a stylistic period or region. In 20th-century design, some replicas will be denoted as “Style of Marcel Breuer’s Wassily Chair.”

Manner of

An item that appears similar to a specific designer or school of designers, that reminds the viewer of that designer or school.


An item that is made or manufactured in honor of a designer or design. For instance, Knoll issued an 18k gold plated Bertoia Diamond Chair (ca. 1952) to honor the designer’s 100th birthday in 2015. The chair was developed in conjunction with the 50th (golden) anniversary of the Platner Collection. Tribute pieces are generally only available for a limited time. See also: Special edition.

- Valerie Hale, ISA CAPP

Appraisers Qualification Board Update

Todd W. Sigety, ISA CAPP
ISA TAFAC Representative
Based on updated criteria established by the Appraisal Foundation's Appraisals Qualification Board (AQB) and to ensure that ISA remains the leader in personal property education, ISA will be updating its membership education and experience requirements effective January 1, 2018.

These new requirements were created in response to increased demand and standards for professional appraisers. With these updates, potential clients will be certain that the ISA appraiser they're working with is credible, trustworthy and up-to-date on all appraising standards.

Read on for more details on how the updated criteria will affect the requirements for different levels of ISA membership.


If you currently have ISA’s Accredited Member (AM) or Certified Appraiser of Personal Property (CAPP) designation, you are already in compliance with the 2018 AQB requirements. You will also be considered a “qualified appraiser” under the AQB criteria. You will need to continue taking the 7-hour USPAP update every two years, as well as documenting your continuing education hours during requalification.

ISA Member

If you currently have ISA’s Member designation you will need to continue taking the 7-hour USPAP update every two years, as well as documenting your continuing education hours during requalification. You are encouraged to continue along ISA’s education pathway to achieve your Accredited Member (AM) designation in order to be fully compliant with the 2018 criteria.

If you do not advance to the AM level, you will still be required to complete ISA’s Requalification requirements every five years. At the ISA Member level, you are not considered an AQB Qualified Appraiser until you fulfill the requirements for the ISA Accredited Member (AM) designation.

If you earn your ISA Member designation after January 1, 2018, then you will be required to abide by the updated criteria. In addition to meeting ISA’s existing membership requirements, the following new requirements will be in effect:
  1. You will have three years to advance to the ISA Accredited Member (AM) level. If you have not earned your AM designation after three years, you will revert back to the Candidate level of membership.
  2. In order to advance to the Accredited Member (AM) level, you will need to complete 30 semester hours from an accredited college, junior college, community college, or university.

ISA’s education and experience criteria have been developed to encompass and include all of the AQB requirements. The new criteria will make your designations more credible and trustworthy to potential clients and users of appraisals.

Read more about ISA membership level requirements

Read the full AQB Personal Property Appraiser Qualification Criteria

- Todd W. Sigety, ISA CAPP
ISA TAFAC Representative

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Case for ISA: Four Members' Stories

Room at the table for young leadership; an exclusive focus on personal property appraising; a supportive network of fellow professionals and a clear, peer-supported path to credentialing - many ISA members cite these benefits as the reasons why the organization has experienced such dynamic growth in the past decade.

With over 800 members and growing, ISA is the professional organization of choice for the majority of qualified personal property appraisers throughout the US, Canada and abroad.

We asked new and long-time members to report what they value most about our society, why they joined ISA, and why they recommend ISA training and membership to colleagues.

Michelle Conliffe, ISA CAPP 
Michelle Conliffe joined ISA in 2013. Michelle holds an MA in American Fine and Decorative Arts from Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York. Within three years of joining ISA, Michelle earned her CAPP, ISA's highest designation. She has lead volunteer committees, served on strategic task forces, and last year, her fresh ideas and natural leadership skills were rewarded when she was selected by her peers to serve on the National Board of Directors. ISA's defined personal property focus, strategic plan for growth, and members’ diversity in geography and expertise initially attracted Michelle to our organization.

"In 2012, I made the difficult decision to leave an established auction house and go into business for myself as an appraiser. At the time, I did not know everything that would be required to launch my business, but I knew that I would need an accreditation that reflected the high standards I set for myself and my work.

Of the three major appraisal societies, ISA stood out for a few reasons. 1) The ISA community is focused primarily on fine and decorative art appraisals. 2) The membership has the widest geographical reach, giving me access to a large network of professionals that possess a broad range of expertise. 3) There is a path to growth within the organization that reflects the work and effort I put into it, rather than depending on an arbitrary length of service.

I have found first-hand that if you have a fresh idea or see a part of the organization that needs improvement, ISA wants to hear your voice. With this diversity of ideas, I know that ISA will continue to grow and thrive as the leading personal property appraisal organization."

Glenn M. Rand, ISA, EdD
Glenn M. Rand, EdD, joined ISA in 2016. As a seasoned educator with a doctorate of education and 12 published books in the field of photography, Glenn was looking for a professional organization that would reward the connoisseurship he brought to the field, allowing him to apply his advanced training toward acquiring his appraising credential. Glenn found ISA's unique Specialty and Advanced Studies Committee vetting pathway very attractive, because it allowed him to demonstrate his scholarship without compromising the advanced methodology training he knew he needed to feel fully qualified to begin a second career in appraising.

"Having had full careers in higher education, as an artist, as an author and having recently created a fine art services business, it was natural to see professional appraising as a future path.

Being familiar with appraisals from collecting art and my work with donations to museums, I realized that education and knowledge of prevailing standards would be required to adequately provide appraisal services to clients.

In reviewing the potentials for acquiring this knowledge base, it became clear that ISA provided the most inclusive educational programs and professional potentials. Through ISA, I have meet professionals willing to share their experiences, knowledge and collaboration, helping me chart my new career direction."

Darlene Hines, ISA CAPP
Darlene Hines joined ISA in 1998. Darlene holds ISA's highest appraisal designation, and is a past National Board member with almost 20 years of service in a broad range of capacities. She typifies the generosity of spirit unique to ISA that values supporting colleagues to grow and excel. She has recommended many employees to membership without fear of competition. Darlene's motto is "Givers Gain." There may not be a better illustration of the supportive culture that ISA encourages than Darlene's tireless example to "work together rather than compete."

"When I joined ISA in 1998, my husband and I owned an antique gallery and we were getting requests for appraisals. At the time, I was working toward a Master’s Degree, working full time, and raising three children. Determined to make the great adventure of becoming an appraiser work, I chose ISA for its strong ethical characteristics, options for continuing education, networking opportunities, and because it was simply the best organization in the field.

It's rewarding to speak of ISA to others seeking membership or expressing a zeal for appraising. I have referred many of my employees to ISA over the years, including a new member who I believe will be a rising star. I have also started a local appraisers' group with current ISA appraisers in Michigan. We meet for lunch and discuss the importance of credentialing, continuing education, and service to the organization. If I could help encourage appraisers to work together rather than compete, we would set a positive example for our businesses and ISA."

Pam Campbell, ISA CAPP
Pam Campbell joined ISA in 1994. Together with her husband, Bill, she operates one of Ft. Worth's most prestigious contemporary art galleries with a prominent national reputation. As a long-standing member of more than one professional appraisal organization, Pam migrated to ISA because she valued the society's exclusive focus on personal property appraising, and the superior local support and continuing education she found in her active local chapter.

"ISA offered a wealth of advantages to me as a personal property appraiser that I did not find in the other organization in my geographical area. ISA’s local chapter holds regular monthly meetings, with superior personal property-focused education, in addition to the opportunity to socialize with colleagues.

ISA coursework gets to the point, with a nuts-and-bolts approach rather than abstract concepts. The many courses offered by ISA beyond the Core Course allow members to continue to be excited about learning, with new courses constantly in development.

With ISA, I found a group of colleagues who were and remain welcoming, willing to collaborate, are generous with knowledge, and are interested in strengthening the appraisal profession."

Would you like to become part of the ISA family?

For those new to the profession, learn more about how ISA can help you launch a lucrative career in personal property appraising.

For seasoned professionals, view our complete list of ISA benefits designed to help you grow and succeed as a personal property appraiser.

If you’re currently a member of another appraisal organization, be sure to view our ISA Bridging Policy. Through December 15, 2017, your application fee is waived.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What Kind of Shape is Your Report In?

by Michael Logan, ISA CAPP

Michael Logan, ISA CAPP
When was the last time you evaluated your appraisal report to see if it was meeting ISA and USPAP guidelines? When was the last time someone else reviewed one of your reports? Many people would say they haven't had a report reviewed since they took the Core Course 15 years ago or applied for CAPP. As you might suspect, things have changed a little since then. In fact, report requirements are constantly changing. Though many people may feel like what they are doing is fine if nobody is complaining, I'd like to encourage you to take the time to review one of your recent reports. I think it will surprise you. Also, if you don’t have a Core Course manual that is less than two years old (the 2016 revision is current), you need to get one.

As an instructor of the Core Course, Requalification and Antiques, Furnishings + Decorative Arts, I have noticed many common errors made in reports in each of these classes. I've compiled them into a list below to assist you in making sure your reports are up to date and up to ISA standards.

What to Include

  • An ISA report must have three sections: 1) A cover document written in letter form on your company letterhead; 2) A body which includes the appraisal specific information about the items being appraised; and 3) An addendum, which can include many things but must include your professional profile or CV which is normally the last thing in the report. Refer to the Core Course manual for more details on what each section of your report should include.
  • The Core Course manual contains an Appraisal Checklist on page 20-2 and following. Use it to make certain you have included everything applicable.
  • The Core Course manual also contains a couple of sample cover letters for reports beginning on page 19. There's no need to reinvent the wheel - though you will need to change parts of these sample documents so they pertain to your report (names, dates, conditions, etc.), these letters provide great guidelines for what your cover letter should contain. The language in them has been specifically chosen for its brevity and meaning. When you make changes to the wording of these letters, you will want to do so carefully to ensure that you clearly state the required information for an ISA compliant report.
  • Include in your report, preferably in the beginning, a statement that says, "The objective of this report is to ___________ for the intended use of ________." For instance "The objective of this report is to estimate the replacement cost of the items for the intended use of obtaining insurance coverage."
  • Shoot for three good comparables if at all possible and explain your justified reasoning for the value conclusion.

ISA and USPAP Guidelines

  • It is important to remember you are writing an ISA report and it must be in compliance with ISA and USPAP Standards. In fact, in your report in the USPAP Certification you certify that "This appraisal has been prepared in conformity with and is subject to the current version of The International Society of Appraisers Appraisal Report Writing Standard and Code of Ethics. In addition, my analyses, opinions and conclusions were developed and this report has been prepared in conformity with the current version (2016-2017) of the Appraisal Foundation’s Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP)." You can be certain that if your report meets ISA requirements it will meet USPAP.
  • If you are used to using a format that came from some other source, don’t use it with your ISA logo or credentials. Often, report formats from outside sources don’t meet either ISA or USPAP standards. If you belong to another organization as well as ISA and use their guidelines for your report, then use your credentials from them on the report and in the USPAP Certification, not ISA's.


  • Check and recheck your terminology. Terms may have changed. We Determine Value, Estimate Cost and Calculate the Present Worth (or Value) of future income. No other descriptors will do!
  • Clearly define the market you are using. The markets are: Retail, Wholesale, Orderly Liquidation and Forced Liquidation. Within these markets are a variety of sources. Different items in an appraisal may require different markets.
  • Once you know the objective you must select the correct approach to value/cost. There are three approaches: the sales comparison approach, the cost approach and the income approach. Again, use the correct terminology. NOTE: Some terminology is different for Canadian appraisals. Choosing the wrong approach is one of the most frequent mistakes, especially for the new appraiser, followed closely by selecting the incorrect market for comparables; for instance using gallery asking price for fair market value comparables. Good for replacement cost, not so good for fair market value.

Formatting Your Report

  • Accept the help your spell check is offering. It won’t catch everything and you may occasionally need to override it, but it is worth a look.
  • Take good photographs (not always required but always a good idea).
  • Number all pages "Page x of y." Put them in the same font and size, and in the same location on each page.
  • Finally, remember you are writing for your client’s understanding. Make sure the report flows and is easy to read. If you use terms that may not be familiar to them put them in a glossary (another good item for your addendum). Don’t be repetitive. There is no bonus for extra pages.
Is the above everything you need to know? No, but it will get you well on your way to a quality ISA Appraisal Report that will set you apart from the pack. Remember, your report is often all your client knows about your work! You want to be sure it will stand up to scrutiny.

- Michael Logan, ISA CAPP