Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Defining Fair Market Value

Kirsten Rabe Smolensky,
Many of us remember sitting in Core Course and memorizing, yes, memorizing, the Federal definition of Fair Market Value (FMV). This was back when the Core Course exam was short essay, fill-in-the-blank, and multiple choice. Now the exam is multiple choice and memorizing the definition is not a prerequisite to passing the exam. However, if you were one of the people who memorized the definition, do not stop reading! FMV is probably a little bit more complex than you remember. First, there can be multiple definitions of fair market value depending upon the intended use of the report, and perhaps the state or province that you live in. Second, even though there is only one Federal definition of FMV, you should cite the definition of FMV differently depending upon the intended use of the appraisal report.

The Definition of Fair Market Value

Let's start with the federal definition of FMV and a brief history lesson. The first place to find guidance is within the IRS regulations.

A long time ago (pre-1985), the definition of FMV for a noncash charitable contributions was simply:
    ...the price at which the property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or sell and both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts... (Treasury Regulation §1.170A-1(c)(2)).
The definition of FMV for estates was a slightly different and an expanded definition. It came from the Estate Tax Regulations:
    The value of every item of property includible in a decedent's gross estate under sections 2031 through 2044 is its fair market value at the time of the decedent's death, except that if the executor elects the alternate valuation method under section 2032, it is the fair market value thereof at the date, and with the adjustments, prescribed in that section. The fair market value is the price at which the property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or to sell and both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts. The fair market value of a particular item of property includible in the decedent's gross estate is not to be determined by a forced sale price. Nor is the fair market value of an item of property to be determined by the sale price of the item in a market other than that in which such item is most commonly sold to the public, taking into account the location of the item wherever appropriate. Thus, in the case of an item of property includible in the decedent's gross estate, which is generally obtained by the public in the retail market, the fair market value of such an item of property is the price at which the item or a comparable item would be sold at retail. (Treasury Regulation §20.2031-1(b)).
So, while the definitions were similar, the IRS argued that there were differences between the two definitions. In 1985, the IRS lost that argument in court. In Anselmo v. Commissioner, 757 F.2d 1208 (11th Cir. 1985), the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals affirming the Tax Court held that "there should be no distinction between the measure of fair market value for estate and gift tax and charitable contribution purposes." Therefore, when determining fair market value for any federal function, the full definition of fair market value applies. (Read more in the updated 2018-2019 ISA Core Course Manual, 2-3 through 2-8). This means that an appraiser must cite the full definition of FMV in their appraisal report. But, what is the best way to cite the definition?

ISA's Core Course Manual recommends the following language for your charitable donation reports:
    Fair market value is defined in Treasury Regulation §1.170A-1(c)(2) as, "The price at which property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or to sell and both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts." Treasury Regulation §20.2031-1(b) expands upon this definition, "The fair market value... is not to be determined by a forced sale nor is the fair market value of an item to be determined by a sale within a marketplace other than that in which the item would be most commonly sold to the public, taking into consideration the location of the item wherever appropriate." (See ISA's Core Course Manual, 12-20 (2018-2019 Ed.))
Remember that the effective date for a charitable contribution is the date of donation or anticipated date of donation. The date of donation is the date that the charity accepts legal title to the item. Often there is a deed of gift documenting this transaction. If possible, it is nice to include a copy of the deed of gift in the addendum of the appraisal report.

For estates, the Core Course Manual suggests the language:
    The definition of fair market value is set forth in Treasury Regulation §20.2031-1(b), which states that the "fair market value is the price at which property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or to sell and both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts. The fair market value of a particular item of property in the decedent's gross estate is not to be determined by a forced sale nor is the fair market value of an item of property to be determined by the sale price of an item in a market other than that in which the item would be most commonly sold to the public, taking into consideration the location of the item wherever appropriate." (See ISA's Core Course Manual, 12-20 (2018-2019 Ed.))
The effective date for a taxable estate is the date of death or the alternate valuation date (i.e., six months after the date of death). The appraiser should ask the client which date the estate is choosing. Generally, which date is chosen has more to do with stock valuation than the value of the personal property unless there has been a big change in market conditions.

As an aside, Anselmo also clarified what is meant by "the public." The court said that "the public" refers to "the customary purchasers of an item." The most appropriate purchaser of an item is not invariably the individual consumer. For example, the general buying public for live cattle would be comprised primarily of slaughterhouses rather than individual consumers. The fair market value of live cattle accordingly would be measured by the price paid at the livestock auction rather than at the supermarket. In this case, the Tax Court found the "public" for low quality, unmounted gems to be the jewelry manufacturer and jewelry stores that create jewelry items, rather than the individual consumer. The 11th Circuit affirmed this finding. So, knowing the appropriate marketplace for the items you are appraising is crucial to determining an accurate fair market value.

Oh Canada...

The definition of fair market value in Canada is similar to that in the United States, but differs slightly. The Canada Revenue Agency and the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board have endorsed this definition of fair market value:
    The highest price, expressed in terms of money, that the property would bring in an open and unrestricted market, between a willing buyer and a willing seller who are knowledgeable, informed, and prudent, and who are acting independently of each other. (See ISA's Core Course Manual, 2-5 through 2-6 and 12C-8 through 12C-10 (2018-2019 Ed).)
Note that in Canada, the "highest price" does not mean the highest price ever achieved. It means the highest price that is consistently achieved near the effective date of the report. Just as in the United States, the appraiser should be looking at the mode (i.e., the most common achieved price). However, in Canada if there is a "modal range" (i.e., a range of commonly achieved prices) the appraiser might choose a number at the top of that range. In the U.S. the appraiser would likely choose a number in the middle of that range.

One other difference is that in the U.S. the appraiser determines fair market value. However, in Canada, the appraiser estimates fair market value and the government determines fair market value.

Other Definitions of Fair Market Value

Appraisers should also know that different definitions of fair market value may exist for different purposes and that these definitions may vary from state to state or province to province. For example, in the four or five states where I have done divorce work the property was to be valued at "fair market value" per state statute. However, none of the statutes defined fair market value. So, what definition do you use?

The first step is always to ask the client or the client's attorney if there is a specific definition that they would like you to use, either from the state statutes or regulations governing divorce law or from the case law (i.e., the legal cases that have been decided and published). Sometimes they can email you the definition to use along with the appropriate legal citation. If you receive a definition, use it and the appropriate legal citation in the appraisal report. Note that #14 on the ISA Report Checklist requires not just the definition of the value sought but also the appropriate citation.

In my experience, however, a question about the state definition of FMV is often met with silence (you can hear crickets in the background). When this happens, the appraiser can suggest using the federal definition of fair market value used for estates, gift tax and charitable donations. In almost all instances where I have suggested this, the attorney has agreed. You can use either of the full definitions above. I usually omit the language about the "decedent's gross estate" in the second definition because it is irrelevant to a divorce situation.

The effective date for a divorce appraisal varies from state to state. In many states, it is the date of separation. However, I have used the date of separation, the date of inspection, or the date of the report depending upon the needs of the client and their attorney. Ultimately, it is up to the client's attorney to make a legal determination as to what the appropriate date should be.

Fair market value may also come into play in a tort suit (i.e., a lawsuit dealing with a civil wrong that might include a negligence or similar claim). In most tort suits the definition of fair market value will come from case law. Again, ask the attorney what definition you should use and get the appropriate citation. Also ask what the effective date should be.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Ask an Instructor: Effective Date in Cases of Damage

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: I'm assisting with a damage claim for my client who suffered the loss when there was a leak in a storage unit. I know the effective date of my appraisal should be the date that the damage occurred, but what if I don’t know the exact date? The damage occurred sometime between when the items were placed in storage on February 3 and when the damage was discovered a few weeks later on February 24. What is the effective date of my appraisal?

Answer: This is a great question that comes up frequently. Since you don't have an exact date of the loss, you would use the date that the damage was discovered as the effective date of your appraisal. In this case, February 24. The only exception may be an instance where the client instructs you to use another date as per their agreement with the storage unit and/or insurance company. Then you would state that the effective date is the date specified by the client.

- Meredith Meuwly, ISA CAPP
Director of Education

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Announcing ISA's Private Client Services Program

Christine Guernsey, ISA CAPP
In the beginning of my appraisal career, I marketed to the general public. Marketing to such a broad audience was time-consuming, expensive, and not always fruitful. The clients I attracted usually needed an appraisal for a particular function and one time only. After every assignment I would need to begin marketing again for my next assignment.

I soon discovered that developing "clients who had clients" was the most efficient way to build my business. The professional service providers whose clients needed appraisals could and would refer me to many of their clients. This began my appraisal practice's marketing strategy of concentrating on large collections and working solely with the various gate keepers who specialize in the high-net-worth individuals market.

High-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) are considered those whose financial investments are in excess of one million dollars. In 2016, there were over four million of these individuals in the US alone. Their collections of antiques, fine art, decorative arts, and collectibles may comprise a significant part of their assets. Procuring, investing, protecting, and maintaining their collections requires a team of highly-trained professionals who work exclusively with this group to help meet their specialized needs. Developing long-term relationships with museums, curators, art and object shippers and handlers, private dealers and consultants, estate attorneys, lawyers, bankers, insurance companies, and charitable foundations, among others, are excellent sources for repeat referrals. As you work closely and regularly with these professionals, an appraiser learns exactly what they need and expect to best serve their clients.

This July 13 and 14, the International Society of Appraisers will present its inaugural ISA Private Client Services program, "Appraising in the World of High-Net-Worth Individuals," at UBS, Legacy, Plano, TX and as a live stream. This new ISA marketing program will provide appraisers who wish to become involved with this sector with an inside look as to who these private client professionals are, why and when they hire personal property appraisers, and what types of appraisal reports and valuations they require from appraisers to best service their clients. Those who attend this program, either in person or streamed live, will gain valuable information on how to market to this group, which they can universally use in their own markets and practices.

Register for this two-day seminar, "Appraising in the World of High-Net-Worth Individuals" in Plano, Texas or as a live-streamed course

Toro Quieto (Calm Bull), Tom Lea
The Bryan Museum
The opening presentation, "Starting Points: The Collection," features J.P. Bryan, a prolific, lifelong collector of western history, artifacts and art. His eclectic collection of over 70,000 objects led to the creation of the Bryan Museum in Galveston, Texas in 2015. Mr. Bryan will share his personal story of collecting, discuss which private client service providers helped him to develop and maintain his collection, and what factors led him to create a museum to house his vast collection. The Director of the Bryan Museum, Joan Marshall, will join Mr. Bryan in what promises to be a very engaging and informative presentation.

The presentations in this two day seminar will include a close look at which professions work most closely with HNW market. Friday's presentations focus on personal property collections and their procurement and management. Saturday's presentations deal with the business side of maintaining and protecting the future of collections, estates and taxes, loans, investing and charitable giving.

View the full course program

The July 13-14 seminar "Appraising in the World of High-Net-Worth Individuals" is part of a larger marketing program, ISA Private Client Services, which ISA has been developing to help our members learn best practices and promote their services to the HNW sector. Completion of this seminar along with other criteria will allow our interested ISA members to apply to the program and be promoted as an affiliate of the ISA Private Client Services Division. More details on this program will be announced July 13.

This seminar is open to all ISA members. Whether you intend to apply to the ISA Private Client Services program or not, you are still welcome to take this marketing course.

Explore the Legacy West area this summer
I hope I will see you in Plano this July, or tuned into our live stream. In addition to a fantastic learning experience, The Legacy area is a very cool and fun spot to spend a couple of days with plenty of great restaurants, shopping, and entertainment all within close walking distance. The on-site class is limited to 30 participants, so sign up quickly as the seminar is filling up fast!

Can't make the trip to Plano, Texas? You'll still be able to participate in our seminar! Register for the live stream and join us for the course as it happens from the comfort of your home or office.

Christine Guernsey, ISA CAPP, is recent past president of ISA and currently serving on the ISA Board of Directors. She appraises all areas of American paintings, works on paper, sculpture, and outdoor sculpture, specializing in 19th and 20th centuries.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Ask an Instructor: Using Comparables

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: If I have more than one item in my appraisal that are similar in nature, can I use the same comparables for each of the items?

Answer: The answer is yes, if the comparables are indeed applicable to both items. For example, I have a client who likes to purchase two prints from the same edition for his collection. As such, when I'm appraising the works for fair market value, I include the same comparables for each print when the two are in the same condition. If the prints were not in the same condition, then I would not necessarily use the same comparables for each of the prints. If one had a condition issue, then I would first look for a comparable with a similar condition issue as the best direct comparable. If comparables of damaged prints were unavailable, then I would use the same comparable of one in good condition and then explain my reasoning of why I'm discounting the value of the damaged print.
- Meredith Meuwly, ISA CAPP
Director of Education

Friday, May 25, 2018

The Appraiser, the Umpire, and USPAP

Cathy Peters, ISA CAPP
If you appraise personal property long enough, you will come across an assignment for a damage claim that will require you to choose a mediator, also known as an umpire. It took me 17 years of appraising to come across this situation. When it did develop in my own appraisal practice, it seemed contrary to the conduct requirements in the Ethics Rule of USPAP. I would like to pass on a few thoughts to consider in navigating unfamiliar waters of these type of insurance claim settlements.

Some homeowner's insurance policies contain a clause that requires an umpire be employed when a homeowner and insurance provider disagree on the settlement for a damage claim. The umpire decides value loss and offers it to the homeowner as an alternative and prior to an owner filing a lawsuit against the insurance company. Before this step, however, an appraisal report from two appraisers is required: one from an appraiser the insurance company hired and the second from an appraiser hired by the property owner. If the two reports are not in agreement, the hired appraisers must meet to negotiate a mutually agreed upon sum. If an agreement cannot be reached, the appraisers have to agree to bring in a third appraiser to act as umpire. The umpire will look at both appraisal reports, talk to each appraiser as they feel necessary, and choose one of the value conclusions as the definitive value or, alternatively, develop their own value conclusion.

In my situation, the appraiser for the insurance company (I'll call him Joe) was not a USPAP compliant appraiser. In fact, he was not an appraiser at all, although at one time Joe had some appraisal training. His company primarily worked for insurance companies in exhibition transportation and adjusting, but Joe had the power to negotiate on his client's behalf. I, on the other hand, did not feel I could responsibly negotiate for my client. I felt it would require bias on my part and be contrary to USPAP. The conduct clause of the Ethics Rule specifically states that an appraiser must "not advocate the cause or interest of any party or issue." I did believe, however, that I could defend and stand by the value conclusions that I reached through research and due diligence. We met, the opposing appraiser felt my conclusions were too high (his were based on auction results), and we left in disagreement. Per the insurance clause, the next step was to bring in an umpire.

I provided Joe with three names of appraisers. Joe was to pick one or offer another candidate as an alternative. It was important to me that the people I submitted be experienced with the type of art that was the subject of contention, that they were appraisers who were known experts in appraisal methodology, and they wrote USPAP compliant reports. I sent Joe the résumés of the three I chose, and he agreed with one of them.

During the course of the next three months, I spoke to the umpire several times, submitted additional sales support of comparable property that had appeared since submitting my initial report, and repeatedly talked to dealers to answer questions that the umpire posed and had not been previously answered. I never spoke to Joe again. Although asked many times to take off my "appraiser hat" and put on my "negotiator" hat, I did not feel I could do so. First, my client was extremely knowledgeable about this particular genre of art and would not give me the power to act on his behalf. But more importantly, I felt that I could not keep my objectivity as an appraiser if I were to advocate for my client, even after I submitted my report. In the end, I stood on my value conclusions, the umpire reached their own conclusions that were slightly less than my estimated replacement costs but much higher than Joe's initial stated values. My client was satisfied and that was the end.

To this day, however, the clause bothers me. The situation is contrary to what I teach in USPAP. How can I negotiate a settlement with another appraiser and still remain unbiased, objective, and impartial? Being an umpire is not an issue. The job would be very similar to conducting an appraisal review, with perhaps conducting an independent appraisal assignment for value conclusions as well.

What about applying the Jurisdictional Exception Rule to act as an advocate for the client? That will not work because using an umpire is a policy choice of the company. It has nothing to do with laws or regulations that contradict sections of USPAP to which the Jurisdictional Exception Rule applies.

This year I came across a small footnote while teaching the 7 Hour 2018-2019 edition of USPAP. For those of you who have the student manual, it is on page 45. Under "Advocacy" in the chart entitled "Yes, I Can Accept That Assignment..." USPAP says that an appraiser can be an advocate and gives an example of representing one party in a court proceeding. However, there is a footnote. The footnote reads, "An individual may provide services as an advocate, or as an appraiser (one who expected to perform in a manner that is independent, impartial, and objective); however, one cannot act in both roles in the same assignment. When acting as an advocate, the individual must not misrepresent his or her role." (Conduct section of USPAP Ethics Rule and Advisory Opinion 21.)

In conclusion, remember that your role as an appraiser is to provide an unbiased opinion of value that is supported by facts. As an appraiser, you could be hired as an advocate, but USPAP states that you may not act as both an appraiser and an advocate in the same assignment.

Cathy Peters, ISA CAPP, has been a member of ISA since 1999. She specializes in appraisals of fine art and is based in Naperville, Illinois.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Looking at Buddha

Daphne Lange Rosenzweig,

Buddha = an awakened one (one who has achieved enlightenment)

Appraisers frequently encounter Buddhist art works in every form, from goldfish tank ornaments and modern cast concrete potbellied garden statues, to museum-quality textiles, paintings, and sculptures. The current Buddhist art market is very active, rising rapidly for extraordinary works, and with a constant presence for lesser works on eBay. Identifying when a work is Buddhist, judging its quality, and assigning a value estimate can be difficult. This brief article is designed to help appraisers understand these challenges.

Describing a Buddha

Buddhism is an extremely complex religion, born over 2,500 years ago in what is now southern Nepal, nourished in north India, then split into various schools and developing into today's active international Buddhist community.

Just as in the early centuries of Christian art, initially, the Historical Buddha (Sakyamuni, born as Prince Siddhartha) was not depicted figurally, but rather with scenes or attributes associated with the primary image ("aniconic" art). As centuries following the venerated figure's lifetime and people's spiritual and philosophic needs from religious art altered, the Buddha himself began to be portrayed ("iconic art"). The anonymous sculptors and painters needed to somehow indicate that this was not an ordinary person being represented but a figure of spiritually elevated status, a holy image.

For this reason, 32 major and 80 minor signs of a Buddha ("lakshanas") are assigned to this image, none of which would be possessed by a normal human being. For presentation purposes, the list is usually winnowed down to a few which are instantly recognizable as signs indicating that this image represents a Buddha.

A Tibetan Carved Blackstone Stele of
Shakyamuni Buddha, 10th century. Source

Generic indications of the Buddha body include:
  • Gold body
  • Elongated ear lobes (from his former life as a prince, bedecked with heavy earrings, not a lakshana, but a universal attribute)
  • A compound body with elephant trunk style arms, antelope-shaped thighs, lion chest, and elongated fingers
  • 3 circles in the neck (3 stages of enlightenment)
  • A protuberance on the skull ("ushnisha") indicating advanced spiritual knowledge
  • A tuft of hair or raised circle on the forehead ("urna")
In addition to these common features, there may be other visual signs associated with a Buddha:
  • Meaningful hand gestures ("mudras")
  • Meaningful leg positions ("asanas")
  • Attributes (hand-held objects or other objects accompanying specific figures)
  • Accompanying personnel (including high-ranking Buddhist figures, guardians, monks, animals, donors, etc.)
  • Mini-narrative scenes from the life or previous lives ("jatakas") of the Buddha
  • Body ambiance:(throne or snake ["naga"] seat; lotus base; halos encircling the head; and mandorla encircling the whole body
  • Frontal position (in a group composition, the Buddha usually faces forward with half-closed eyes, is dressed differently, and is larger and placed higher than other figures than who turn towards him)
All these indicators can aid the appraiser/viewer in identifying an image as a Buddha – though to compound the problem, there are many different Buddhas represented in Buddhist art, with their own particular attributes (the Buddha of Medicine with a medicine bowl, for example). In Mahayana School Buddhism (dominant in northern and east Asian School, but also present in some southeast Asian countries), there is a being called a Bodhisattva, one who is entitled to become a Buddha but remains behind on the journey to help others. Bodhisattvas can assume many of the lakshanas mentioned above, but also wear the heavy jewelry of a prince.

When in doubt, an appraiser might wish to just assign the title "Buddhist image," which is true, if far from informative! This method is particularly advisable in the arena of Himalayan art, with its multiplicity of male and female deities, including several important Hindu gods brought into Buddhist art. Given the current soaring market for Buddhist art generally, caution and consultation are advised.

Note that it is usually stylistically possible to distinguish a genuine Tibetan from a Thai from a Cambodian or Japanese or contemporary Western Buddha image, even when they are all portraying the same spiritual figure. There are regional preferences for a certain appearance, as well as chronological alterations in appearances even within one region.

Value Estimate Considerations

Because of the current art market popularity of Buddhist art with collectors from Hong Kong to New York to London, there have been many major auctions devoted to this subject. Some of the values achieved are stunning and unexpected, way beyond what an appraiser, having conducted a professional appraisal with well-chosen comparables, might assign as a value estimate. Listed in no particular order, here are some value estimate considerations for Buddhist art following the initial description:
  1. Authenticity. Reproductions are rampant, in theory because of respect for renowned older models, or, buyer's preference for a traditional style without any concern for age, or in an attempt to deceive (think "Remington bronzes"). Choice artist signatures, temple seals, Chinese reign names or workshop logos may be added onto a painting, sculpture or textile reproduction. Accompanying boxes may not reflect the original date of the work of art, etc. Really, live in doubt and hope for the best, and research and consult where necessary.
  2. Rarity. Subject, period, technique, inscription, etc. Here, expert advice might be needed. Note that artist names are very unusual on earlier work, but workshop names may be documented or ascribed on the reverse of some works. Some Zen paintings from the 14th century on do bear signatures, although authenticity is an issue. Many modern Tibetan thangka paintings may bear an artist's name (contra to tradition because that places ego over egolessness, the ideal) due to some current Western collectors' demand to know an artist name, and certain of these artists have considerable value.
  3. Materials. Precious, common, legal; unobtainable today; bronze or brass; silk or wool; all from original period, or later additions; permanent or built in obsolescence; etc.
  4. Dimensions. With many museums today, in accepting a work of art as a non-cash charitable contribution, the curators and boards want ready-to-go "display-quality" art, not too small to make an immediate impact. This often means that a larger work might be more desirable than it might be otherwise, except of course if a smaller work is truly "choice"; and see 5.
  5. Condition. Loss of wood or metals; corrosion, or permanent fading; torn textiles; water or fire, insect (active or dead) or incense damage; loss of original mounting, base, setting; need for conservation, cost of repair, and possibility of repair, etc. - the usual value deterrents. Museums may be reluctant to accept even important works if they are in poor and beyond repair condition and in need of conservation in order to be displayed; there may be no funding or expertise available to perform this task.
  6. Provenance. The more respected the former owner/dealer/auction, the more confident an appraiser might feel; that may be an error, however. Modern scholarship may have changed interpretations from previous ones, and today's opinions about a work may not reflect the opinions or taste of a previous era (not to mention, opinions of the current owner!). Any "outside" (not self-published) publication or museum exhibition of the work, with documentation certainly has to be taken into account. There may be legal ramifications to this aspect of provenance. It also is desirable to learn the date of entry into the US or Canada.
  7. Date. This can be tricky, because prime earlier examples are relentlessly copied as reproductions (as in 1.), but also because workshops traditionally used illustrated wood block print depicting the correct way to depict Buddhist figures, in order to create a specific, identifiable image.
  8. Country of origin. Obviously having an accurate geographic identification is important, which brings up an important matter, the work's having a clear provenance (6.) and not subject to an MOU, or Memorandum of Understanding (which can involve repatriation), between country of origin and current country location. Some countries forbid the export of Buddhist figures – or may want them back when they have come west and become public knowledge.
  9. Subject desirability. This includes clarity of design, appealing coloration, interesting or appalling elements, richness of the iconography. Apart from the generalist Buddha collector, there is an active sub-group of collectors who specialize in works with erotic imagery though nudity per se is seldom portrayed outside of the greater India area.
  10. Association with a revered figure or temple. The handprint of a famous teacher or abbot on the reverse of a thangka, for example: Reliable provenance and expert advice may be needed. This can be a major value consideration. If you cannot remove a painting from its current setting, to review the reverse or view the base of a sculpture, this should be stated as a limiting condition.
  11. Quality overall. Museum quality, decorative, other descriptors, with reasoning. These are subjective descriptors, and recommended to be used carefully and only under a specific request for such analysis by client: Well or poorly cast; heavy brass misidentified previously as bronze; inferior, damaged, and faded painting; wood sculptures and textiles in ruinous condition; reproductions of famous works; marks that are just not correct, and why, these are objective descriptors and are rightfully noted.
Of course, so many of these considerations which can affect the value of a Buddhist work of art are familiar ones from other art traditions, but a few are specific to Buddhist art.


Appraising Buddhist art can be difficult. Buddhism alone, with its ancient history, philosophic and religious foundations, and regional and chronological variations, is such a complex subject, with a huge bibliography, some truly awful movies and certainly numerous "Hum"-along lengthy DVD performances. For the use of appraisers of Buddhist art, I have added a few recommended references to Buddhist visual arts and marketplace sites below. There are many more sites, both scholarly and commercial.

Helpful references

  • Tibet House US - Associated with the Dalai Lama; many exhibitions of modern Tibetan and Mongolian art
  • Onmark Productions - Go to the side-bar on Buddhist art. So much information! Japanese-oriented but useful overall
  • Asian Art Museum of San Francisco - Essays and videos; excellent resource, much developed in connection with Khan Academy
  • Asia Society Museum, New York - Top quality examples by region
  • Buddha Museum - Sale source with values
  • BuddhaNet - Very useful for iconography, history, philosophy, etc.
  • Leidy, Denise, The Art of Buddhism: An Introduction to Its History and Meaning (Shambala 2008, paperback) - General introduction by region and period
  • Rubin Museum of Art - Himalayan art; excellent exhibition materials, site can be difficult to navigate
  • The Four Noble Truths: A Study Guide - Guide to major concepts, etc
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art, Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History - Many thematic essays on Buddhist art by countries, periods, general discussion
  • The Buddha Gallery - Commercial site
  • Baronet 4 Tibet - Commercial gallery by devotees to and purveyors of Tibetan art, primarily thangka
  • Thangka Paintings
- Daphne Lange Rosenzweig, PhD, ISA CAPP 

Don't miss ISA's upcoming webinar, "Goddess of Mercy: Buddhism and its Symbolism in Asian Art" on April 24.

Ask an Instructor: Requal Exams and USPAP Required Disclosures

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: Is there an exam for Requal?

Answer: No, there is currently not an exam component with the Requalification course. ISA's policy is that all members must "requalify" every five years. In order to fulfill the Requalification requirement, you must successfully complete the course (either onsite or live online), submit a federal function appraisal report for peer review during the course, and submit the completed Requalification packet within 45 days of completing the course. More information on the ISA Requalification Process can be found here. If you should have any specific questions about your Requalification with ISA, please contact ISA headquarters at for more details. Need to requalify? Register for the next Requalification course here.

Editor's note: The following question comes from the March 29, 2018 USPAP Q&A and has been adapted to pertain to Personal Property appraisals.

Question: I am using an appraisal form that has an appraiser's certification which cannot be altered. The certification does not include USPAP's required disclosure on whether I performed any services on the property in the three years prior to the assignment. May I simply add such a statement elsewhere in the report, outside of the certification?

Answer: No. Simply adding information in the body of a report is not the same as a signed certification. Any supplemental certification should be clearly identified, and it must be signed as required by Standards Rule 8-3.

USPAP does not require the report to be signed; it requires a signed certification. USPAP acknowledges that signatures may appear elsewhere in the report, and if so, per the Comment to Standards Rule 8-3, any party signing elsewhere must also sign the certification. NOTE: ISA requires that the report be signed. Thus, if your certification statement is the last item in your cover document, then you can sign your report and the certification statement with one signature. If your certification statement is elsewhere in your document, then you need to sign the certification statement page and also the report itself – remembering that anyone who signs the report must also sign the certification.

While USPAP does not require labeling the certification with that specific term, the certification must be similar in content to the language in USPAP's Standards Rule 8-3, which starts with "I hereby certify that..." The Comment to Standards Rule 8-3 states that a "signed certification" is an integral part of the report, but it is a clearly differentiated part of the report. For example, it may be difficult for an appraiser to defend a statement on page 18 of an appraisal report as being a "signed certification" when the only signature is on page 6 below a list of items clearly labeled an Appraiser's Certification.

- Meredith Meuwly, ISA CAPP
Director of Education

Monday, April 9, 2018

Protect Your Business with Higginbotham Insurance

Joy S. Simpson & Carsey Aycock
The following is a sponsored post by ISA Affinity Business Partner (ABP), Higginbotham. Learn more about ABP membership.

Dear ISA members,

It was such a pleasure to attend Assets 2018 in Pasadena this past month! I am very pleased to announce that we have officially launched the insurance program for the International Society of Appraisers. At Assets, I was afforded the opportunity to pilot the program with several members by quoting and even issuing policies right there at our booth. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like to apply, or you can fill out the online application form and submit it via email to

My teammate, Carsey Aycock, and I are available to you for any questions. Our direct contact information is listed below. We have also included answers some of the most common questions that come up when purchasing insurance. I look forward to the opportunity to become your insurance partner!

Insurance Program Summary for ISA Members

  • General Liability and Professional Liability (E&O): $1,000,000/$2,000,000 
  • Bailees: Various limits available, $15,000 with a $500 deductible recommended as a starting point

Frequently Asked Questions

What is included in the insurance program?
The program packages together General Liability, Professional Liability, and Bailees (Inland Marine). You can choose to purchase any one of these coverages a la carte with the exception of Professional Liability, which must be combined with General Liability.

What is Inland Marine?
This is another term for Bailees, which is coverage for objects of art, rarity, or historic merit in your care, custody, or control.

What is Professional Liability?
This is another term for E&O (Errors & Omissions) and is coverage for you should you make an error or omissions within your professional service as an appraiser.

What is General Liability?
This is your basic "slip & fall" insurance and covers you for claims of bodily injury or property damage that you may become legally liable for.

Are jewelry and watches covered in the Bailees policy?
Yes! While it is rare for Bailees to cover these items, we have given back coverage for members in good standing with ISA. Please note, however, that loose precious and semiprecious stones, bullion, gold, silver, platinum, or other precious metals or alloys are not covered.

How far back will the insurance program cover me for E&O/Professional Liability?
The insurance program will not cover you for any claims that occurred before you purchased the policy. If you are moving from a different E&O policy, you should inquire about an extended reporting period from your current agent (known as Tail Coverage). This period would allow you to report claims to that policy for an extended period of time, after the cancellation. Once you are with our insurance program, you will have coverage back to the day you bound a policy with us.

Is art conservation covered in this program?
No, unfortunately, it is not.

Are objects of art, rarity, or historic merit that I own covered by Bailees?
No, not automatically. However, if you need coverage for owned items, please let us know and we will attach a special endorsement to the policy allowing it to cover owned items.

Is coverage available in Canada?
At the time we are not able to offer coverage in Canada. However, Jamie and I are working hard to make this happen as soon as possible.

What are the deductibles on the insurance program?
The Bailees typically has a $500 deductible (higher deductibles result in very low premium savings so it’s not recommended). The General Liability and D&O/Professional Liability have no deductible.

What if I need other types of insurance, like worker’s compensation?
I can absolutely provide quotes for other types of insurance, just give me a call and we can talk through your specific needs.

Joy S. Simpson, MFA, CIC Associate – Business Insurance
P 817-347-7007 | C 817-881-4196 | F 817-347-6981 |

Carsey Aycock, Account Executive
T: 817 349-2288 | F: 817-347-6981 |

Monday, April 2, 2018

Announcing the ISA Dealer Directory

Christine Guernsey, ISA CAPP
If you weren’t at Assets 2018, you missed the announcement for the new ISA Dealer Directory. This new directory connects prominent invited and vetted antique, jewelry, fine, and decorative arts dealers with our qualified ISA appraisers across the United States and Canada. The purpose of the Directory is to provide ISA appraisers and dealers opportunities to facilitate appraisals, acquisitions, and the disposition of fine and decorative art as well as antiques and jewelry. The directory is a private subscription-based service for dealers and gives free access of the postings to all ISA members.

Our new ISA Dealer Directory is the first of its kind to be created by a professional appraisal organization. The directory is a private subscription-based service for dealers with free access to all ISA members. The directory provides a unique benefit for our membership with the hope of improved relationships with private dealers and galleries. Whether we are in search of replacement cost information, have a general question about an item, or are helping a client that is interested in working privately to sell an object, our new ISA Dealer Directory can be of great assistance.

The ISA Dealer Directory consists of two sides. The Dealer side is a private, subscription-based directory service where vetted private dealers and galleries are allowed access, providing posts for items they are hoping to find. As appraisers, many of us are the first to know if our client has an item that he or she wishes to sell privately. And the fees from dealers and galleries subscribing to our directory will help fund future ISA member benefits as well!

The Appraisal side, available only to ISA members logged into the ISA website, allows access to all dealer postings for jewelry, antiques, fine art, and decorative accessories free of charge. There are keyword searches in addition to being able to view all postings. Please pay attention to the suggestions on the View Postings page as these helpful guidelines will improve your ability to have more fruitful interactions with dealers. We hope that this new program will enrich your appraisal practice, providing additional opportunities with new avenues for business networking.

After being beta tested with several dealers and ISA appraisers, our new Dealer Directory is now live and can be found by clicking on the Dealer Directory tab in the upper right hand corner of the ISA homepage. I’m very excited about the potential this directory offers ISA and look forward to hearing your thoughts after you have a chance to visit it.

- Christine Guernsey, ISA CAPP

Monday, March 26, 2018

2018 ISA Award Winners

Once a year, ISA’s members are asked to help identify those in the organization who have inspired them by an accomplishment or act of service. This year at Assets, we recognized the following award recipients for their contributions to ISA:

Christine Guernsey, ISA CAPP,
receiving the President's Award
President's Award:
Christine Guernsey, ISA CAPP

Lamp of Knowledge Award:
Steve Roach, JD, ISA CAPP

Service Award:
Wendy Gerdau, ISA CAPP

Outgoing Leadership and Service Award:
Elise Waters Olonia, ISA AM

Service Award - Retiring Fine Art Instructor:
Cathy Peters, ISA CAPP

Foundation for Appraisal Education Award:
Wendy Gerdau, ISA CAPP

The Canadian Chapter winning Chapter of the Year
Rising Leader Award:
Bailey Sexton, ISA AM
Jessica Strongin, ISA CAPP

Distinguished Service - ISA Instructor Award:
Michael Logan, ISA CAPP

Leadership Award:
Cindy Charleston-Rosenberg, ISA CAPP

Chapter of the Year:
The Canadian Chapter

Distinguished Service:
Jan Durr, ISA CAPP
Sheila Osborne-Jones, ISA AM
Fred Winer, ISA CAPP

Affinity Business Partner Award:
Collector Systems

Descriptions of each award can be found here, and see more pictures from the conference, including award winners, on the ISA Facebook page!

Save the Date - We'll see you at next year's conference, April 12-15 at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Ask an Instructor: Comparables and the Report Writing Checklist

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: How many comparables do I need to include in my appraisal?

Answer: This question is one of the most commonly asked to the ISA instructors throughout the year. The answer is…enough.

You want to include enough comparables to produce a credible valuation. Sometimes you may have two or three comparables available to use. Sometimes only one is sufficient to make your point. And, sometimes, you will need to provide more than three comparables. What you do NOT want to do is print out every comparable from Artnet or Askart or another subscription service for the last 50 years with thousands of examples. Choose the most relevant comparables for the appraised item, and explain in your reasoned justification how you narrowed your search as well as why each comparable listed is relevant to the appraised item. End your justification with how you came to your value conclusion based upon the comparables cited. Remember that the reasoned justification is just as important as listing the comparables themselves.

Question: Do you know where I can find the 2018 ISA Appraisal Report Writing Checklist?

Answer: Yes! You can download the newly updated Checklist here. We also have a blog post with more information on the updated checklist. You can also always find the Checklist posted on the ISA Forum under the Education topic.

- Meredith Meuwly, ISA CAPP
Director of Education

How to Evaluate a Basic Coin Collection

Steve Roach, ISA CAPP
Many appraisers dread encountering a client’s coin collection, where there might be thousands of individual items. Appraisers are worried they’ll miss something. But thankfully, most accumulations of coins in normal households aren’t particularly valuable and evaluating a basic coin collection is within a trained appraiser’s skill set.

Step 1: Gather all of the coins in one place. At the core of Marie Kondo’s popular book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering is to assemble items of the same type together before you start making decisions. The same can be said for a coin collection, which is often scattered across a house in various cigar boxes and purple Crown Royal liquor bags. Get everything numismatic – in other words coins, paper money, tokens, and medals – in one place. Then you can sort items into a save pile for items with numismatic (collector) value and spend categories for items valued at-or-near face value.

Step 2: Ask about the client’s collecting. Where did the collector purchase their coins? Directly from the U.S. Mint or through dealers? Is there an inventory? Are there invoices or are these coins just an accumulation that was gathered over time? These questions will help you decide whether you need an outside expert or if you are competent – or can acquire the necessary competency – to tackle the project yourself. A good question to ask: what do you think are the most valuable coins in the collection? A generalist appraiser can likely handle a group of modern U.S. Mint issues, but might not be equipped to appraise a collection of ancient coins purchased from German dealers in the 1950s. It’s best to discuss this openly at the start rather than be surprised later.

Step 3: Discuss the client’s expectations. Does the client expect for you to go through every roll of coins and individually itemize every coin in your report, or just provide summary line-items utilizing grouping? Since even low-value coin collections can have thousands of items, make sure you know in advance what the client expects. Since you’re billing for your time, solid communication and getting on the same page are essential to avoid unpleasant surprises later.

Proof sets
One area that appraisers see all the time are Proof and Mint sets. Many people purchased a set or two each year in the 1970s through 1990s with the intention of giving them to their children or grandchildren, who may or may not have had any interest in collecting.

Proof coins are produced for sale to collectors and the Proof sets contain an example of each denomination struck in a given year. Sets from 1936 to 1942 had relatively low production numbers and are expensive – for example, a 1941 set with the cent through half dollar denomination can be worth $1,500. Mintages increased with 1950 to 1964 Proof sets, which have a silver dime, quarter dollar and half dollar, along with examples of the cent and 5-cent denomination. Most frequently, you’ll find sets from 1968 to present day. Assuming that they’re in their original Mint packaging with a cardboard outer box housing the plastic container with no cracks, they can be valued according to price sheets for most purposes.

U.S. Mint sets contain uncirculated examples of each year’s coins for every denomination issued or circulation from each Mint. Since 1959, these sets have been sealed in protective plastic envelopes. No Proof or Mint sets were issued in 1965, 1966 and 1967, with Special Mint Sets packaged in hard plastic holders sold instead.

Reliable pricing references include A Guide Book of United States Coins (better known as the “Red Book”) which is an annual price guide in book form and monthly periodicals like Coin World’s Coin Values. (For disclosure, I serve as a contributor to the “Red Book” and an editor at Coin World, but would recommend both resources regardless). Completed sales on eBay provide useful reference points as well. Dealers often refer to wholesale guides like The Coin Dealer Newsletter’s Greysheet that report on a dealer-to-dealer wholesale market.

Five coin and 6-coin Proof sets produced between 1968 through the mid-1990s are common and as a rule of thumb, worth $5 to $8 each, and Mint sets from this era are valued similarly. Sets with silver coins and Prestige Proof sets which include commemorative coins are worth more. There are a few varieties that can make sets worth more – for example, a 1990-S Proof set where the Lincoln cent is missing the San Francisco “S” Mint mark can sell for as much as $5,000 – so a statement in an appraisal that Proof and Mint sets were not opened and checked for varieties might be prudent. Many collectors kept their sets unopened in the boxes as shipped from the U.S. Mint. Thankfully, these boxes generally state the contents on the outside and it’s fine to value them unopened. But, you may want to note that you relied on the label on the box when identifying the sets.

Increasing Supply and Decreasing Demand: Today’s market for U.S. Mint and Proof sets

Collecting trends come and go, as collectors from the 1960s who were into buying coins by the roll can confirm. Proof and Mint sets manufactured and sold by the U.S. Mint have been a mainstay of the hobby for decades, serving as gifts for generations of collectors and non-collectors alike. Here’s a look at some of the factors shaping today’s market for Proof and Mint sets.

Mint production numbers for traditional Proof and Mint sets have been declining, and the Mint has acknowledged that this is a major problem for its collector products revenue stream. These sets have a primary market when an individual purchases them from the Mint or through a dealer who purchases them from the U.S. Mint. A secondary market is created when this initial purchaser sells his or her set.

For there to be a growing market and for prices to rise, there has to be increased demand for the sets. If fewer people collect sets, as the trend is headed, this could spell bad news for already sinking prices in this area.

Dealers now buy many Proof and Mint sets of the 1970s and 1980s for amounts below the face value of the coins in the set, acknowledging the labor involved in breaking the sets up to sell the coins individually or to package them for sale to a wholesaler. The decline in the number of local coin shops means that fewer dealers stock these low-value sets, finding the trouble of maintaining an inventory of bulky $3 sets not worth the potential profit.

These trends can be challenging to explain to clients. Retail price guides are useful for determining retail replacement value – representing the cost to replace a similar Proof or Mint set – but it may not reflect what a client will get when it comes time to sell.

A look at prices for many Proof sets shows sharp declines over the past decade. A 1995-S Proof set that sold for nearly $50 back in 2005 is worth around $10 today and the 1997-S Proof set which was worth $40 in 2005 trades for around $8 now. Part of the reason is that many Millennials who received these sets as gifts in the 1990s sold theirs and created a modest surge in the supply. Another is that in absence of people collecting complete sets of Proof and Mint sets, the premium for these slightly tougher-to-find years evaporates.

There have been a few bright spots – the 2012-S Proof set trades for over $100 and the 2012-S Silver Proof set costs $200 now, far more than their initial sales prices of $31.95 and $67.95, respectively. But the winners are outnumbered by the sets that have seen declines over the past few years. 1981 saw the Mint sell more than 4 million Proof sets, and mintages over 2 million were common in the 1990s with more than 3 million sets sold in 2000 as people celebrated the new millennium and speculated that these 2000-dated sets would become popular in the future. Mintages have gradually declined since, towards 1 million and then finally dropping below 1 million in 2012 with sales of 794,000 sets. The Mint has sold fewer than 500,000 2017-S sets as of the end of 2017.

As more buyers adopt a more minimal approach to collecting, favoring fewer objects of greater quality, the inherent standardization of Proof and Mint sets (each one is the same), combined with the space required to store them, make these sets less attractive to younger buyers. That’s not to take away from the pleasure that many derive from collecting these, or buying one to celebrate a milestone or to give as a gift, but when thinking of the investment potential of Proof and Mint sets, considering future demand is essential.

Steve Roach, ISA CAPP, is an appraiser based in Washington, DC, and Cincinnati, Ohio. He is an expert in rare coins and medals with expertise in European and American paintings, sculpture, prints and drawings.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Experience the Best of the Golden State at Assets 2018

Headed to Pasadena for Assets 2018? Here’s a list of cultural spots, entertainment, restaurants, and more to help you make the most of your trip.

While you’re in Pasadena, you’ll have a golden opportunity to explore the rich history, culture and art of California, as well as shop and dine in a beautiful city with great weather. Located just ten miles north of Downtown L.A., Pasadena is unquestionably the place to be this March.

Pasadena's iconic City Hall

Art and architecture

Known as a regional center of arts and architecture, Pasadena has been home to many well-known artists, including Guy Rose, Alson S. Clark, Marion Wachtel, and Ernest A. Batchelder of the Arts and Crafts Movement. You’ll be able to see examples of architecture from every era of California history in Pasadena as well, from historic estates to residential districts like “Bungalow Heaven,” named for its large number of craftsman-style houses.

Bungalow Heaven. Image credit: Eugene Lee

Aside from the places we’ll visit on our Fine Art and Antiques, Furnishings + Decorative Arts specialty tours, the Huntington, Norton Simon Museum, and Gamble House, there are many other museums located in or near Pasadena that have outstanding collections of works from California and beyond.

Be sure to visit the Pasadena Museum of California Art, dedicated to exploring “the cultural dynamics and influences that are unique to California” through art and design. There will be two special exhibitions there during our conference in Pasadena. The first is Testament of the Spirit: Paintings by Eduardo Carrillo, whose artwork has been described as mystical, realistic, surreal, and visionary. The second is The Feminine Sublime, presenting the art of L.A.-based artists and their interpretation of the sublime in painting.

Virginia Katz, Land – Into the Abyss [detail], 2017
Close to Pasadena, you’ll find the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, featuring 18th century Mexican paintings, 20th century design in California and Mexico, and more. The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles represents the work of artists from the 20th and 21st centuries. In March, they’ll have a large exhibition from Nigerian-American artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby. And don’t miss The Broad Museum, where you’ll be able to see a retrospective of works by iconic American artist Jasper Johns. The J. Paul Getty Museum spans two campuses, one featuring a villa modeled after a first-century Roman country house.

Villa at the J. Paul Getty Museum

Shopping and entertainment

The historic town center, Old Town Pasadena, spans 21 blocks and has a wide variety of options for shopping, dining, and entertainment, including many restaurants, cafés, galleries, and comedy clubs. On the second Sunday of every month, you can attend the famous and long-running Rose Bowl Flea Market to browse new, used, and antique items from a variety of sellers.

View of Old Town Pasadena


Vertical Wine Bistro
Did you know that Pasadena has more eateries per capita than New York City? No matter what your taste or budget, you’ll certainly find what you’re looking for here. You’ll benefit from the proximity to California’s wine country and the beautiful farms around the state. For California-style comfort food, try the tucked-away Green Street Restaurant, or the seasonal selection at Vertical Wine Bistro.

If Italian food appeals to you, try Briganti in the Mission area. Of course, you can’t miss all the great Mexican food in the area, especially El Cholo Café with its California influence and green corn tamales, and El Metate. If you’re looking for something laid-back, Pasadena's classic Pie’n Burger has hamburgers, milkshakes and fruit pies.

There’s truly something for everyone in Pasadena, and we can’t wait to see you there for Assets this year!

For more information on Assets 2018 and to register, visit the Assets 2018 section of the ISA website.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

USPAP Advisory Opinion 21: Valuation Services and Appraisal Practice

Meredith Meuwly, ISA CAPP
Director of Education
Your education team and I wanted to share some examples on how USPAP Advisory Opinion 21 applies to your business as you perform appraisals and valuation services. The examples below are taken from the USPAP FAQs, amended to relate to personal property appraisers, and explained how they affect you.

Example 1

Robert Agent is an individual who provides both brokerage and appraisal services. What are Robert’s obligations under USPAP when preparing a broker’s price opinion (BPO)?

    Answer: USPAP provides flexibility for brokers/appraisers and others who have multiple professional roles.

    If providing the service as an agent or broker, USPAP requires only that an appraiser must not misrepresent his or her role. In other words, if Robert was contacted by his client because he is an art consultant or broker and signing his report as a consultant or broker, then Robert need not comply with USPAP except to not misrepresent his role. If Robert is contacted by the client because he is known as an appraiser and is signing his report as an appraiser, then USPAP applies.

What does this mean for an ISA personal property appraiser?
Many ISA members wear multiple hats. You might be an art advisor, antique store owner, fine art gallery manager, estate sale person, auction house representative, broker, etc. The most important thing is that you let the client know up front what services you offer and how the services differ from one another. Once a client chooses a service, make it clear which hat you are wearing for that particular assignment. For example, if you offer art advisory services a client might hire you to advise them on what pieces of art to purchase for their collection. This assignment might involve market research, a suggested purchase price or price range for a particular item, negotiating a deal to purchase a piece of art, etc. In your role as an art advisor USPAP would not apply, except you could not misrepresent your role. However, if after purchasing the art the client then wants you to write an appraisal for insurance coverage you are undertaking a new assignment as an appraiser writing an appraisal. For this assignment, you must follow USPAP.

Example 2

Marie Vaughn has a diverse practice with a specialization in litigation services. She commonly aids attorneys in developing cross-examination strategies for expert witness testimony from appraisers. How does USPAP apply to Marie’s "litigation services?"

    Answer: In order to determine Marie’s obligation, it is necessary to understand the nature of her role. If she is acting as an appraiser, her litigation services are part of appraisal practice. The PREAMBLE, the DEFINITIONS, the ETHICS RULE, the COMPETENCY RULE, and the JURISDICTIONAL EXCEPTION RULE will apply to the assignment. As an appraiser, Marie cannot act as an advocate for any party or issue.

    If Marie’s services include providing an opinion of value, she must also comply with the appropriate appraisal standards (STANDARDS 7 and 8). If Marie’s services include providing an opinion about the quality of another appraiser’s work, the appraisal review requirements of STANDARDS 3 and 4 apply. If the service includes providing analysis, recommendation, or an opinion to solve a problem where an opinion of value is a component of the analysis leading to the assignment results, then Marie must comply with the ETHICS RULE, the COMPETENCY RULE and the JURISDICTIONAL EXCEPTION RULE for the entire assignment; and she must also comply with any applicable Rules and Standards if she performs an appraisal or appraisal review as part of the assignment.

    On the other hand, if Marie provides litigation services as an advocate, then she is providing a valuation service outside of appraisal practice. When performing services outside of appraisal practice, Marie can act as an advocate and accept contingent compensation. The only USPAP obligation is that she not misrepresent her role. She must use care to distinguish her role from other roles that would carry an expectation of being impartial, objective, and independent, i.e., acting as an appraiser.

    Marie may provide litigation services by either acting as an appraiser or acting as an advocate for the client’s cause; however, she must not perform both roles in the same case.

Plain English Please?
Sometimes, in the course of litigation, a judge will order an appraisal be performed of personal property. If you have been asked to provide an appraisal for litigation, then you must follow USPAP, specifically Standard Rules 7 & 8. Why? Because where the law requires an "appraisal" be done (for example, most states will require an "appraisal" by statute for probate), then you must act as an appraiser and follow USPAP. If you have been asked to review another appraiser’s appraisal report as an expert witness and submit that report in writing, you are also acting as an appraiser (See USPAP Standard Rules 3 & 4, the rules for Appraisal Review).

When acting as an appraiser, in either an appraisal or an appraisal review, you must maintain your neutrality. Being neutral does not mean that you cannot point out the flaws in another appraiser's report; in fact, that was what you were hired to do. Instead, it means that you must do so in a neutral and factual manner. If the other appraiser did not follow USPAP and claimed to do so in his or her report, simply state that. And, state how the failure to follow USPAP led to either flawed value conclusions or perhaps shows a lack of professionalism. Similarly, if providing values (i.e., an appraisal under Standard Rules 7 & 8), you can also remain neutral. One way to check yourself is to ask whether your final value conclusions would be different if you were working for the "other side." If your answer is no, then you are maintaining your neutrality.

Generally, if giving testimony or providing a written appraisal report that will be admitted into evidence, you should act as an appraiser and maintain your neutrality. First, expert witnesses are expected to be neutral. Of course, this does not always happen. But if the jury suspects an expert is acting as an advocate, their opinion will quickly be dismissed. Second, if a judge determines that the expert is acting as an "advocate" or "hired gun," the expert’s testimony will likely be disqualified. Finally, as an appraiser, and particularly as an expert witness, you have a reputation to protect. Every bit of testimony and every report that goes into a court can become part of the public record and available for anyone to see. That means when you get back on the stand in another case three years later, you should not be surprised if you are cross-examined on opinions that you gave in an earlier case. You cannot "flip" your opinion without good cause. The best way to do this is to remain neutral.

So, when would you be an advocate in litigation? In most instances you might act as an advocate (and NOT an appraiser) when you are acting behind the scenes and providing litigation services. For example, a law firm might hire you to give it opinions about an appraisal report, but not ask you to serve as an expert witness. An attorney might hire you to explain appraisal methodology to him or her and help draft cross-examination questions for an appraiser. Or, you might be hired to help one side develop a strategy for success in a complex case where the appraisal methodology might be particularly complicated. In these situations, you can act as an advocate. And, when acting as an advocate you CANNOT act as an appraiser because then you are not maintaining your neutrality.

Example 3

Chris Filo is an art appraiser and advisor who has an assignment to advise a client regarding a potential art purchase. The client has provided Chris with an asking price for the work. Chris has made the extraordinary assumption that the value provided is credible and will use that value as part of the analysis before making final recommendations. Which parts of USPAP apply to this assignment?

    Answer: Chris must comply with the ETHICS RULE, the COMPETENCY RULE, and the JURISDICTIONAL EXCEPTION RULE for this assignment.

    Because this assignment does not include an appraisal or appraisal review, neither the SCOPE OF WORK RULE nor the RECORD KEEPING RULE applies. In addition, there are no development or reporting standards applicable to this assignment.

What’s the message here?
Remember that if you are acting an appraiser and providing appraisal services (i.e. a valuation analysis without a full appraisal report), then you are still subject to the USPAP ETHICS RULE, the COMPETENCY RULE, and the JURISDICTIONAL EXCEPTION RULE. If you are an advisor and providing valuation services, then you must not misrepresent yourself.

Example 4

Jane Doe is an antique dealer who offers a variety of professional sales and advisory services to her clients. She is an antique dealer, consultant, authenticator, advisor, and is also a certified appraiser. Jane has been asked by a client to perform a service that is viewed by Jane and her client as a consulting service that relates to value, but is to be undertaken by her in the role of a broker/consultant, not as an appraiser. Which parts of USPAP apply to Jane in this assignment?

    Answer: Individuals may fulfill different roles in different assignments. In general, USPAP applies only when an individual is acting as an appraiser. As long as it is clear that Jane is not performing as an appraiser, Jane’s only obligation when acting as a broker/consultant is stated in Conduct section of the ETHICS RULE, which states,

      "An appraiser must not misrepresent his or her role when providing valuation services that are outside of appraisal practice."

What’s the take-home?
Remember that the "main purposes of USPAP are to protect the public and to promote public trust in the appraisal profession." This means that you must:
  1. Make it clear up-front which hat you are wearing.
  2. If you switch hats mid assignment, then it is a new assignment.
  3. Properly advertise your services. If you currently advertise only as an appraiser, but perform other services, you should change how you are advertising your services. Why? Because if you advertise only as an appraiser, the public is calling you as an appraiser. If you then try to "switch hats," you will be misrepresenting yourself.

Meredith Meuwly, ISA CAPP,