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Thursday, October 29, 2015

New ISA Board of Directors

We are so pleased to introduce the new ISA Board of Directors, who were officially seated during the ISA Board of Directors meeting in Chicago on Sunday, October 18. Please join us in congratulating them!


Christine Guernsey, ISA CAPP
Colleyville, Texas

Perri Guthrie, ISA CAPP
Woodside, California

Karen Rabe, ISA CAPP
Peoria, Arizona

Steve Roach, ISA CAPP
Dayton, Ohio


Hughene Acheson, ISA AM
Oakville, Ontario

Marian Aubry, ISA CAPP
Sarasota, Florida

Cindy Charleston-Rosenberg, ISA CAPP
Elkins Park, Pennsylvania

Suzanne Sellers Houck, ISA CAPP
La Quinta, California

Fred Winer, ISA CAPP
Baltimore, Maryland

Joseph M. Jackson, CAE
Chicago, Illinois

ISA would also like to take this opportunity to thank Cindy Charleston-Rosenberg, ISA CAPP, for her hard work and dedication during her two-year term as ISA President. Special thanks are also due to Libby Holloway, ISA CAPP, who retires from the Board after six years of service as an officer and director. Their contributions have been instrumental in the growth and success of the organization!

Newly elected President, Christine Guernsey, ISA CAPP, states: "I am honored to be elected President of the Board of Directors for the International Society of Appraisers, by my colleagues and peers. I humbly accept the position which follows in the footsteps of some 'legendary shoes' worn by recent past presidents who have made ISA the premier professional personal property appraisal organization! I intend to continue the path of promoting and educating the public to the importance of hiring credentialed and qualified personal property appraisers, while providing new opportunities for our members' professional growth."

The ISA BOD looks forward to continuing to work hard on behalf of the membership!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The ISA Forum: A Refresher

For many years, the ISA Forum has served as an integral resource for members in obtaining expert advice and getting answers on tricky appraisal questions. It houses a wide range of discussion topics, with new discussions and questions posted daily.

Back in 2010, Todd Sigety, ISA CAPP, compiled a four-part screencast series on how to use the Forum. If you aren’t yet using the Forum to its fullest, take a look at these posts for a quick refresher. (Please note that these screencasts were done before ISA revamped the website and ISA logo. While those have changed, the functions of the ISA Forum have not.)

Friday, October 9, 2015


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

There are always ways to make a report better, whether in content, form, or persuasion. A better report is one that is readable, easily understood, and conveys the answer to the client’s problem in a meaningful way. Read my latest ISA Now blog post for five suggestions to consider when improving the transmission of the appraisal.

1. Clarity
A report should be clean and orderly, both in textual content and in appearance. It should clearly state the client, the intended use and users, objectives, and all the elements on the ISA checklist. Whether a report is narrative, like a letter addressed to a client, or a chart type form with repeated boxes or tables for information, it should flow in a logical and methodical way.

Any intended user of an appraisal report should be able to understand what the appraiser did and what steps were taken to reach the final value conclusion. The scope of work should be addressed sufficiently so that even the research and analysis performed will be evident.

Clarity involves the written report appearance as well. It should follow grammatical rules and be free of punctuation and spelling errors. The numbers, when given, should be plain and not confusing. Parts of the report should be labeled and follow the steps of the process from beginning to end.

2. Headers or Footers
A report can be custom tailored for every assignment. This includes a unique header and footer with specific information that identifies the report. Some use a footer to include company and client name, effective date, addresses, emails, and phone numbers. Due to the ease of word processing programs, these effects are no longer difficult or time consuming.

3. Report Segments
It is relatively easy to construct an ISA report that includes a cover section, a body, and an addendum. Although we do not normally label these segments, it is wise to differentiate between them in the text. Starting a report with the appraiser’s qualifications is usually not a good idea since it is part of the addendum. Addendums, for a very good reason, normally fall at the end.

The USPAP/ISA certification is part of the cover segment of a report. It can follow the itemization and valuation, but should be labeled to separate it from the rest. Often it is included in the narrative as the ending to a cover segment. Remember that the cover section is appraisal specific. The body is item specific.

Use the addendum in an expanded fashion. It is a great place for an item-specific glossary, a grading scale, artist biography, and supporting documentation. It would not be out of line to have an addendum that contains more pages than the rest of the report.

4. Photographs
Photographs are not a requirement for any report, even an IRS one (the taxpayer is only responsible for providing a good photograph of an item for donation if it is over $20,000). However, particularly in an age of digital photography, you should include photos whenever possible.

Learn to use your camera well. Make every attempt to deliver sharp and realistic photos, including close-ups of signatures, hallmarks, and specific identifying characteristics. Use white space to enhance the presentation and label the photographs when possible. Put them in the body, next to the item description. If one is using comparable sales and a reasoned justification, adding pictures of the comps is extremely beneficial. Do not cut corners using photography.

5. Avoid Needless Repetition
Many appraisers use templates. Some templates are not appropriate for all intended uses and may contain information not required or useful in a specific circumstance. Proofread your reports and delete unnecessary and/or duplicate information. This is particularly true when people try to follow checklists and often duplicate material to ensure it is present.