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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What ISA Members are Saying about the Appraisal Profession

Steven R. Roach, ISA AM
Over the past several months, the ISA has been exploring ways to introduce our new online learning management system and the personal property appraisal profession to a broader audience. As part of that, we performed an informal poll of members on ISA’s LinkedIn group and had a rich discussion with participation from more than a dozen members.

The responses made clear that the appraisal profession is dynamic, and the reasons why people are seeking competent appraisers are changing. A larger theme that continues to emerge is that the downsizing of the Baby Boomer generation is shifting the intersection of supply and demand in the marketplace, which is impacting values that appraisers may place on an object. Continuing education on the part of the individual appraiser is more important than ever to keep up with these shifting trends.

Here are some of the takeaway points on some of the types of objects that appraisers are seeing more often:

  • Asian art continues to be a hot area for the appraisal market. Daphne L. Rosenzweig, ISA CAPP, said, “As an Asian art appraiser, I appreciate all the increased interest in Asian art appraisals!  Right now I have a flood of modern Japanese prints. Asian art appraisals - thriving field.”
  • However, members continue to be concerned with valuing ivory in light of laws limiting the ivory trade. Richard John Meliska, ISA AM, wrote, “Our recent ivory appraisals were pretty easy…zero value, regardless of age, content or provenance.” Rosenzweig added, “It’s not a time to appraise ivory (Client’s hate to be told this!)”
  • Midcentury modern objects continue to be the subject of more appraisals. Cindy Charleston Rosenberg, ISA CAPP, finds strong demand for appraisals of American regionalist painting.
  • Other areas that were noted as being particularly busy include sterling silver, art glass, rare coins, inherited furniture, collectibles (although, people are often disappointed to learn what the market value of their Lladro and Hummel figurines are in today’s market), musical instruments and Oriental rugs.
But why are people getting appraisals today and how does that impact appraiser business? Here are a few of the answers.

  • Many people are seeking fair, impartial guidance because they’re looking to sell their items. However, increased value requirements on the part of insurers are reducing insurance appraisals for some. Donna Einhorn, ISA AM, writes that while she’s finding fewer estate appraisals because of the high limit on value for tax requirements, other areas are providing opportunities. She’s finding additional work in charitable donations, divorce work and bankruptcies. Vicky Nash Shaw, ISA CAPP, explains, “Most of my clients now want valuations for resale, and of course, I see a lot of fine art. The insurance carriers are not requiring appraisals for most "stuff" now so the volume of insurance appraisals are down.” Thomas M. Helms, ISA CAPP, concurs, writing, “More collections, estimates for what an estate would garner at orderly liquidation value for the courts, jewelry especially for banks and fiduciaries. Less taxable estates this year.”
  • Appraisers continue to need to educate clients, especially in the legal and banking sectors, on how appraisers can help them and what a “qualified appraiser” is. Shaw notes, “As far as estate work goes, many executors and trustees only want appraisals completed for tax purposes; they don't realize the value of them for equitable distributions. Lots of upside marketing potential with insurance firms, especially the big ones!” Meliska adds, “We still get a lot of estate appraisals, although not necessarily for tax, but for ‘inventory’ by corporate fiduciaries and equitable distribution. We're seeing a lot of jewelry and silver for insurance. The need for ‘qualified appraisals’ done by ‘qualified appraisers’ in compliance with (something like) USPAP has grown tremendously.”
Finally, when asked why they would recommend the appraisal profession to a new appraiser, Christine Guernsey, ISA CAPP, shared the sentiments of many when she said that appraising meant more than just money. She wrote, “What is important to me is not the money. What is important to me is staying busy with something I love and being able to work around other things I want to do ……because after all life is too short to ‘work for the man.’ I like working for ‘the woman’- she’s the best boss ever.”

It’s that independence, combined with being able to help people and work in a field that is ever-dynamic, that makes the personal property appraisal profession so attractive to new appraisers. The ISA continues to look for new ways to introduce people to the rewarding field of appraising.

Steven R. Roach, ISA AM

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