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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Ask Leon: What is correct in determining fair market value?

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

Question: The past three reports graded for D&R all used solely auction results for determining fair market value. The existence of a valid retail market was totally ignored. What is the current teaching of the concept in the core course?

Answer: The IRS definition of fair market value for an estate (Section 20.2031-1(b) adds the clarification that the determination should not be based on forced sales, markets other than that which such items are most commonly sold to the public, and takes into consideration the location of the item when appropriate. If items are most commonly sold to the public at auction then that would be the appropriate market. Many items, however, are sold in various markets. It is the appraiser’s responsibility to select the correct market and substantiate the value. Auctions are often used not because they are the most common market but because they are easy to locate and have published transactions. A dependence solely on auction sales is not correct. Where the most common market is retail every effort should be made to use those sales in the final determination. This is probably more likely in the fields of art and/or jewelry/gemstones than in normal used furniture and decorative art. Be aware that the IRS has written that even sales resulting from classified ads are acceptable.

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