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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Architecture of Appraising: Building on a Solid Foundation

By Elise Waters Olonia, ISA AM, Conference Chairperson

Chicago evokes images of towering, landmark skyscrapers, well-designed parks, savory international cuisine, a vast array of specialty museums, engaging night life and much more! In 1871, Chicago endured the challenge of its central business district burning to the ground. What followed was the cooperative effort of the people to re-build this resilient town into a greater renown. Hence, the "Second City."

As members and affiliates of an innovative, hardworking and curious community, we have the opportunity this year at Assets 2017 to look at our own practice with fresh eyes. Like the people of Chicago, we will build upon our roots, our core education, to deepen our understanding of all facets of the appraisal business. Utilizing experts both within and associated with our industry, growth and development of our practice will occur!

We are pleased to introduce several new educational and informative events. On Thursday, March 30 and Friday, March 31, a Pre-Conference Course will be offered, “How to Be an Effective and Successful Appraisal Witness.” This course will be led by James J. Mangraviti, Jr., Esq. who has trained thousands of expert witnesses. Additional regular onsite courses will be offered including a 7 hour USPAP Course on March 30 and a Requalification Course at the end of the week on April 4 and 5.

Also on Thursday evening, there will be a special gathering of estate lawyers in Chicago at the historic Palmer House, our host property. A panel featuring several estate lawyers and ISA appraisers will discuss new estate issues. This informative evening and opportunity for conversation will be most helpful for those actively working with estates.

Another exciting development will debut at this year's conference! In our Saturday breakout sessions, a third track of education is being offered to specifically address the Generalist. This new division was created to accommodate our group of professionals who may or may not be actively appraising and are perhaps, more centered in estate sales.

On Friday the 31st, specialty lectures and tours have been thoughtfully organized. Participants will enjoy lectures by highly trained experts at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, the Museum of Contemporary Photography and the Art Institute of Chicago. In addition to the lectures, select artifacts and objects will be available for closer examination. New this year is a special lecture at AIC by Dr. Alexis Culotta on Provenance.

Take time in preparing for this year’s conference so that you get the most out of each opportunity. Become familiar with the details of this engaging program on our website. Remember that all classes and lectures provide educational credits for your portfolio. Investigate what’s happening in the city in the event you decide to extend your stay. Give the gift of this conference to yourself and/or sponsor someone else who has interest.

Assets 2017 ignites the vision of warm embraces from colleagues, the discovery of art and antiques through expert eyes, answers to lingering appraisal questions, discovering new tools and pathways of obtaining information, forming relationships which opens doors to business opportunities and much more… 

Join us today! 

Elise Waters Olonia, ISA AM, Conference Chairperson

Friday, December 2, 2016

Worthwhile Attractions during Assets 2017

While we’re excited to bring attendees of Assets 2017 (March 31 – April 3) programming of the highest quality, we also understand that the conference’s Chicago location would mean nothing without the opportunity to get out and explore the city, home to the ISA Headquarters.

First, for those seeking to expand their Assets experience, March 31 is the day of our Fine Art Tour and Antiques, Furnishings + Decorative Arts Tour. Join your colleagues as they visit world-renowned locations like Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, the Museum of Contemporary Photography and the Art Institute of Chicago. Learn more on the Tours page.

Second, for those who find themselves with extra time on their hands, here’s just a few of the attractions worth visiting while in Chicago:

Millennium Park
From Jaume Plensa’s Crown Fountain, which projects an ever-changing lineup of locals’ faces on its walls, to the 110-ton Cloud Gate sculpture (known lovingly as “The Bean”) by Anish Kapoor, this nearly 25-acre park features wholly unique outdoor artwork, monthly garden walks and year-round flower displays. While it’s within walking distance of the Palmer House Hilton, it also has convenient parking.

360 Chicago
Located on the 94th floor of Chicago’s famous Hancock Center (and formerly known as the John Hancock Observatory), 360 Chicago allows you to see up to 55 miles out and a total of four states.  With an interactive tour, dining, and unbelievable sights, this attraction recently gained an addition known as “the Tilt,” an enclosed platform that extends from the building at a 30-degree angle.

Museum of Science and Industry
Those who love museums – but want a quick break from fine and decorative arts – should consider this terrific site nestled in Hyde Park. A winner at the 2016 Time Out Love Chicago Awards, the Museum of Science and Industry is known for its interactive exhibits and noteworthy pieces, including a simulated coal mine, a vintage diesel-electric train, and a restored U-505 German submarine.

Music Box Theatre
This two-screen cinema is well-regarded for its consistently top-notch programming of documentaries, art-house films and restored classics. Located in Wrigleyville, the main theater regularly hosts Q&A’s with directors, while cult classics are given midnight screenings, all of which tend to be packed with enthusiastic cinephiles. It’s a movie lover’s dream venue.

The Green Mill
In the 1980s, owner Dave Jemilo restored the club to the original luster it had in the Roaring Twenties, when it was a regular hang-out spot for Al Capone and other infamous gangsters. Since being refurbished, it’s been a music connoisseur’s delight, with affordable drinks, a fantastic vibe, and a stage that features an array of wonderful jazz musician or bebop musicians. One night, you may hear an award-winning pianist, while the night after that may feature an indie group destined to be “the next big thing.” Sit down and let the music wash over you. You will not be disappointed.

These are only five of the terrific attractions you can enjoy while in Chicago. Whether you’re enhancing your Assets experience or extending your stay a few nights after, there’s always another site to see in the Windy City.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Expanding Your Comparables Resources: A Fresh Look at Sources

By Suzanne Houck, ISA CAPP

If you’re like me, you often get stuck in a rut with your tried-and-true comparable research sites. Lately, I’ve been expanding my resources, and I wanted to take this opportunity to share a few of my finds with you. Some may be familiar yet forgotten. Others, hopefully, will be new and helpful additions to your bank of research sites.

Everything But the House (EBTH)
This is a full service online estate sale model for everything in the home but the house (hence the name!). It provides photos, and active and realized prices from estate sales around the country. It is searchable by region, category, and can be filtered/sorted by best match or prices high to low. And… it’s free!

If your appraisal services include consultations for selling items but not actual brokering (including estate sales), this might be a good resource to share with your client. They handle sorting, cataloging, photographing, payment, pickup and delivery.

An online auction platform similar to Live Auctioneers, Barnebys has realized prices. You can submit an item for what they call a “free appraisal,” which goes to participating auction houses (and consequently provides you with an auction estimate rather than an appraisal). Like EBTH, this is free.

An online auction site with live auctions and past auction prices, this free service includes a sortable search function.

Bidsquare was launched with six renowned auction houses (Brunk Auctions, Cowan’s, Leslie Hindman, Pook & Pook, Rago, Skinner) who joined forces to provide buyers, sellers and auction houses with a place to sell high quality items. Many of their specialists are Roadshow experts; perhaps you’ve even met a few of them. I have found sales on Bidsquare that were not on Live Auctioneers, even in the case of auction houses that are represented on both sites. I’d advise checking both sites for comparables.

the saleroom
An online auction site similar to Live Auctioneers, this site is entirely searchable, has realized prices and photos (particularly of Asian items) and has a nominal fee for use.

Applications (Apps) available through your smartphones, tablets, and iPads
There are plenty of Classified Ad-type apps that may prove helpful when determining regional and local asking prices for more depreciable items commonly found in the home (washers, golf clubs, dishes, etc.). For those of you who don’t have time or desire to frequent garage and estate sales and want to see more searchable classified ads, complete with photos and asking prices, consider the following apps:

Trove Marketplace: A place to buy and sell. For sellers it has a unique social feature, in which viewers can vote between two items that developers claim helps with future pricing.

Close 5: Great for reviewing asking prices for ordinary household items. Prices included on photos for easy viewing. No prices realized.

Offer Up: “Buy. Sell. Simple.” Requires clicking on the photos to see the asking price. No prices realized.

Letgo: “Buy and sell used stuff.” A Craig-classified sales (as in Craigslist). Not as easily searchable as the others, in my opinion.

I hope you find even a few of these resources useful. If you know of others, please share them in the comments. And if this subject interests, you be sure to attend the ISA Conference, “The Architecture of Appraising,” slated for March 31-April 3 in Chicago. Pip Deeley, author of How Data Will Keep Transforming the Art Business, will be presenting “Remodeling Business for the Future: Utilizing New Tools of Technology,” covering a range of topics from apps for image capture, collection management, the impact and potential of price data, and the latest developments in 3D scanning, virtual reality and visualization. We’ll see you there!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Meet the Next Director of Education

Meredith Meuwly, ISA CAPP
By Christine Guernsey, ISA CAPP, President

On behalf of the International Society of Appraisers Board, I am delighted to announce that Meredith Meuwly, ISA CAPP, (member of ISA since 2009), has been appointed as the new ISA Director of Education, effective January 1, 2017.

Meredith earned her Bachelor's degree in Classical Studies and Art History from Duke University in 2000, and a Master's degree in Modern Art, Connoisseurship, and the History of the Art Market from Christie's Education in New York in 2001. She spent the next five years in the Christie's New York Antiquities Department as sale coordinator and cataloguer of ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Near Eastern works of art. During her time at Christie's, she worked on numerous high profile auctions, including the Doris Duke Estate, Ancient Egyptian Art from the Harer Family Trust, and the John W. Kluge Morven Collection of Ancient Art.

Meredith joined Heritage Auctions in 2007 as Senior Consignment Director in the Fine & Decorative Arts Department, overseeing two auctions each year. In January 2010, she became the Director of Appraisal Services, preparing formal appraisals for 40 specialist categories beyond fine art.

In addition to her duties at Heritage, Meredith participates as an appraiser for Antiques Roadshow on PBS, specializing in Antiquities, Glass, Silver, and Decorative Arts. She serves on the ISA Fine Art committee and is the lead instructor for the ISA accreditation pathway, Fine Art Course. Meredith is the recent past President of the Foundation for Appraisal Education and a guest lecturer at museums, institutions, conferences, and multiple civic organizations. In 2015, she was honored with the ISA Distinguished Service Award for her contributions and dedication to the field of personal property appraisals.

In asking Meredith about her new position she stated, “I'm honored to be appointed to this position. I have big shoes to fill, but I look forward to continuing Leon Castner's legacy. The entire education team is excited for 2017 and dedicated to assisting ISA members to be the top most appraisers in the industry”.

The Director of Education position for ISA is a three year rotating position. The Board would like to thank outgoing Director of Education Leon Castner for his years of service and contributions to the education of our members.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Real 'Name'-Changer

by Maureen S. Winer, ISA CAPP, Chair of Antiques, Furnishings + Decorative Arts (AFDA)

Say goodbye to "ARC" and hello to "AFDA!"

I am thrilled to announce that the ISA Board has approved the Antiques & Residential Contents (ARC) Committee’s recommendation to change the name of the ARC division to Antiques, Furnishings + Decorative Arts, otherwise referred to by its acronym AFDA.

Why the change? For years, I have believed that ARC did not properly reflect my appraisal business, nor that of most of my fellow appraisers. Sure, it is primarily an internal name and the general public is not aware of the title. Still, we are. So why does this matter? The answer is, we should be represented by a name that is consistent with our desired image; it should state our expertise and should last the test of time. The name should also represent the majority of our members.

The (former ARC) committee members agreed unanimously that a name change was necessary; therefore, we embarked on a mission to find the right name. Through much discussion and debate, and with welcome input from Libby Holloway, we chose Antiques, Furnishings + Decorative Arts. It should be noted that we had an extensive discussion regarding our Gems and Jewelry appraisers; although they remain a part of the AFDA division, we recognize that we need to help them reestablish their own voice over the coming years. The Annual Conference Committee has made sure that there will be plenty of relevant presentations and breakouts to please our Gems and Jewelry appraising members at the upcoming Assets 2017 in Chicago, March 31 – April 3.

Many thanks to our committee membersBridget Donnelly, Kurt Soucek, Mary Alice Manella, Rudy Pena, Sanjay Kapoor, Lisa Duke and Catherine Sanky. If you would like to become a part of our committee, please contact me at

Friday, October 14, 2016

Oh, The Tours You Can Take

Assets 2017, now open for registration, is coming up March 31 – April 3 in Chicago. There are few better ways to further enrich your Assets experience than by participating in the hands-on tours we have planned at some of Chicago’s most famous art and antiques institutions. Both the Fine Art Tour and the Antiques & Residential Contents Tour will take place Friday, March 31. Let’s take a closer look at each of them:

Our first stop is Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, an auction house with a worldwide reputation for its full service approach and the noteworthy expertise of its specialists. Founded in 1982, it became the largest auction house in the Midwest in just a matter of years and has only continued to grow, having handled property from the estates of Rose Movius Plamer, Melville N. Rothchild, Frank J. and Mary Mackey Jr., among others.

Following a breakout session on Fine Art, attendees will then depart for the Museum of Contemporary Photography, an institution that collaborates with artists, photographers, and
communities both locally and internationally, embracing a wide range of contemporary aesthetics and technologies to establish itself as the leading photography museum in the Midwest. Attendees will be split in half; while one team visits the print room, the other will be given the opportunity to see the exhibition.

Participants will then walk to the Art Institute of Chicago, where they will have lunch before being guided through the AIC’s highlights, including the pieces from the Edlis Donation.

The tour will begin with Leslie Hindman Auctioneers. Participants will enjoy breakout sessions—choosing between ARC, Jewelry or Couture—before heading to the Art Institute of Chicago, where they’ll find themselves engaged in lectures on European Decorative Arts and Provenance, before getting the opportunity to explore the world-renowned institute.

We are excited to provide Assets 2017 attendees with auxiliary programming like this year’s Specialty Tours—just one more way to enhance your conference experience and advance your learning within the industry. Spouses/guests are invited to participate, but space is limited and is first-come, first served. Sign up for either tour during the registration process now while spots are still available.

* In the case of either tour, those in need of alternative transportation may contact ISA Headquarters for special accommodations.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

What's Next for USPAP?

By Leon Castner, ISA CAPP

The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice is updated every two years. The next revision will be effective as of January 1, 2018. Although it seems far away, it is only about a year before the new version is released. The Appraisal Standards Board (ASB) is on the second public draft of possible changes, all of which are provided to the public for review and comment. These issuances are called “exposure” drafts and are sent to appraisal organizations and users of appraisal services.

The second draft was released in August and is open for critique until the middle of October. It can be viewed on The Appraisal Foundation’s website. It would be an interesting and prudent decision to view the proposed document and see what is being discussed for the next USPAP. It includes the issue of providing draft reports to clients, one that many of us face in the personal property appraisal community.

This process provides transparency and inclusion. Although the appraisal organizations are encouraged to respond, many of the comments come from individual people. These singular views are treated with care and carry as much weight as any other opinion. We suggest you read the exposure draft because it will keep you informed of the issues percolating in the appraisal community, allow you to be able to discuss these issues with fellow appraisers, and involve you in the process of making significant and important changes to the profession you love.

The exposure document is easy to read and offers quick notes about specific changes. One can easily respond to all or part of it by emailing comments to The comments are carefully reviewed, documented, and analyzed prior to formulating a third, and possibly final, exposure, which will also be open for review. All final changes will be voted on prior to the acceptance and implementation of the 2018-2019 version.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

New to the ISA

The ISA is proud to introduce the following individuals to the ISA. Please join us in publicly welcoming them to the Society!
Elizabeth Anastos
Winnetka, IL
Meridith Baer
Los Angeles, CA
Catherine Bassett
Midland, TX
Paula Cagigal
Edmond, OK
Jeffrey Chandler
North Port, FL
Laura Cole
Naperville, IL
Kimberly Daylor
Houston, TX
Vincent Dillon
Indianapolis, IN
Candace Drexelius
Louisville, KY
Steven Gilman
Arlington Heights, IL
Beth Hancock
Lady's Island, SC
Travis Havelka
Wheaton, IL
Catherine Hovey
Dripping Springs, TX
Chenying (Molly) Huang
Falls Church, VA
Ann Helene Iversen
Princeton, NJ
Jo-Ann Kane, ISA
Montreal, QC
Khadinn Khan
Hong Kong
Katherine Klein
Rocklin, CA
Angie Longpré
Thornhill, ON
Emanuel Nash, III
Jacksonville, FL
Suzanne Pringle
Winnipeg, MB
Marcey Ramos
Hermitage, TN
Glenn Rand
Mason, MI
Jason Rzepniewski
Pflugerville, TX
Mitch Schmer
Crystal Lake, DR
Sneha Shah
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Gene Shapiro, ISA AM
New York, NY
Shanna Shelby
Denver, CO
Claire Shields
Raleigh, NC
Ann Smith
Fredericksburg, VA
Elizabeth Taylor
Columbus, OH
Heidi Vaughan
Houston, TX
Valerie Voinis
Houston, TX
Edward White
Bartlesville, OK
Cathy Wright
Albuquerque, NM

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Oriental Rugs: The Myths, the Market, and More

By Ellen Amirkhan, ISA CAPP

Whether they are made by hand or machine, valuing rugs is one of the most daunting appraisal specialties. Winston Churchill’s description of the former Soviet Union, “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma,” also serves as an apt way of depicting the world of Oriental rugs. In the last 25 years, during which I’ve taught a number of rug appraisal courses, I’ve determined that the goal of the class is to give the student the tools and skills to measure, analyze, photograph and document rugs using proper techniques and terminology.

A springboard to self-study, November’s Oriental Rugs course focuses on terminology, components of identification, photography, commonly encountered rugs, factors affecting value, and finding the appropriate comparables. The class is held in “The Casbah,” a classroom in a 100+ year-old oriental rug cleaning plant in Dallas, Texas, providing those in attendance with hands-on access to over 300 rugs. 

But while I have you here, let’s dispel a few myths about oriental rugs, shall we?

Myth # 1: All oriental rugs appreciate in value.
Answer: Neither post-World War II rugs nor most new rugs being purchased today will appreciate in value. Consumers most likely paid more for some rugs in the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s than they are worth today. Most rugs today are made to satisfy current design trends. When these trends in color, design and texture go out of style, the value of the rug will depreciate. 

(a) Pastel Kirmans of the ‘50s and ‘60s are coming into the secondary market as their owners are downsized or become deceased. These rugs, which were expensive and “choice” 50+ years ago, cannot even be given away today.

(b) Today, Turkish Oushaks are decoratively hot. However, they were loosely woven and their condition may be fragile. I tell my clients that even though they paid a high price for this rug, the value will plummet as styles change.

(c) Expensive luxury cars such as BMW, Mercedes, and Jaguar depreciate the moment they are driven off the showroom floor. This depreciation does not mean that the vehicles are not worthy of the price. The same applies to most contemporary and trendy oriental rugs. 

Myth # 2: All old Oriental rugs are worth a lot.
Answer: Condition is important when determining value. For instance, an old rug in poor condition is just an old rug. An old rug in good condition may not be worth much if it lacks artistic merit (i.e. bad colors). Many old rugs with artistic merit are worth repairing, as they are decorative and functional.

Myth # 3: Persian (Iranian) rugs are better than rugs from other countries.
Answer: Many pre-World War II Persian rugs such as Ferahan Sarouk, Kashan, Heriz, Tabriz, Bijar, tribal pieces and other noteworthy examples will always have a market, albeit a small one, if they are in good condition and have artistic merit. Since the fall of the Shah in 1979, along with the embargo on Persian goods (1987-1999 and 2010-2016), other countries improved the quality and increased the production of rugs that changed with design trends. The quality of Persian rugs has gradually deteriorated since the 1960s, and they have not kept pace with modern tastes. Today, there is limited production of high quality, natural dyed rugs that are worthy of their ancestors’ reputation. They have a lot of catching up to do. 

Myth # 4: Knot count is the best indication of value.
Answer: The value of only a few traditional Persian rugs is determined by knot count, and even then only partially. Two that come to mind are Nain and Isfahan. The value of silk rugs is largely determined by knot count and country of origin. The value of most older, traditional Persian rugs is based on condition, rarity, and artistic merit. Heriz and Mahal rugs have a lower knot count and used to be some of the most expensive rugs in the decorative market. Generally speaking, the price of new rugs is based on knot count and quality of materials. Once these mass produced rugs are used, their value in the secondary market is not based on knot count but rather condition and artistic merit.

Myth # 5: Oriental rugs are identified by their design.
Answer: Design is only one component of identification. Rugs are best identified by their construction. Some of the components of identification are materials used, type of knot, number and color of wefts between each row of knots, design, size, and end and side finishes. When a ‘rug person’ walks up and kicks over the corner of a rug, he or she is looking at the construction on the back of the rug. 

Myth # 6: Never clean or vacuum Oriental rugs.
Answer: 80% of soil in rugs is dry, particulate matter. It acts as sandpaper and wears the rug out. Some rugs are so thick, they do not appear to be soiled, when in fact the soil is so embedded that it is impossible to remove all of it. Beware of anyone selling rugs that say they should never be cleaned.  What they may really mean is the rug will not withstand proper cleaning due to condition, foundation painting, or other hidden defects.

There is perhaps no other subject for the generalist personal property appraiser that is filled with so many myths, misconceptions and downright nonsense! Like the guy who told me his rug was over 1000 years old and trampled by camels. (Really?!)

Some of My Favorite Stories:
1.  My rug has a twin and it’s in the Smithsonian.
2.  The Shah owned it/walked on it/gave it to my husband’s second cousin twice-removed.
3.  You can tell my rug was woven by a mother and daughter because one side is better than the other.
4.  I’m going to send the appraiser to Iran to find the weaver.
5.  The rug was repaired with yarns from its village of origin from sheep that grazed on the west side of the mountain.
6.  He thought he bought a Navajo rug from Ikea but it was a dhurrie from India.
7.  It’s one-of-a-kind, they’ve never seen it before and it’s a sculpted 90 Line Chinese from the 1980s.
8.  The rug has a label “Made in Pakistan” and they swear it’s over 100 years old.
9.  The man spent $10,000 in Turkey for what he was told was an antique Turkish silk Hereke… and it was actually modern, rayon, worth $2500.00, and made in China.
10.  My rug is “signed” and is worth more:  the inscription reads “Good Luck”.

We hope you’ll join us in class, November 10 and 11, for the Oriental Rugs course. We hope you bring some ‘favorite stories’ of your own!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Clarion List, Our Newest Affinity Business Partner

We're always incredibly excited to welcome a new company into the fold as an ISA Affinity Business Partner (ABP), and in the case of The Clarion List, this addition to the ABP family comes with a special offer to ISA members!

The Clarion List is the leading online resource for sourcing art service companies. Their searchable, sortable, free database with ratings and reviews includes 6000+ art companies in the US and Europe across dozens of service categories. It is Clarion's hope that that your potential clients find them a helpful resource when you need to source new art service providers both at home and in new markets, like storage companies, transport firms, installers, framers, lenders, insurance brokers, law firms, conservators, security firms, risk consultants, collection software, lighting companies and more.

And, just as importantly, they want their audience to find YOU when in need of an art appraiser. They have partnered with the ISA to offer a discount on their premium packages, enabling you to optimize your listing with more information, add your logo and other images, and increase your chances for lead generation. Premium listers will also be able to add the ISA logo to their listing, which will display in search results and on your individual listing, enabling their audience to understand your qualification at a glance.

The ISA badge on your Clarion enhanced listing serves to not only help you stand out on the website but to also grow the public's awareness of ISA credentials as an important distinction when choosing an appraiser.

Next Steps:
  • Claim your free listing - do a keyword search for your company name or search for your listing with our List of Appraisers, then click “Claim This Listing”

  • Not listed? Contact Clarion.

  • Edit your basic listing information.

  • Consider one of their brand-building premium plans, starting at just $20/month. Details:

  • Enter code ISA30 before checkout to receive 30% off either plan
Take advantage of this special offer today from The Clarion List, our newest ABP.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

ASK AN INSTRUCTOR: Is ISA still using the term critical assumptions?

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

Is ISA still using the term critical assumptions? I thought I read it in one of the education updates or blog posts that it has been substituted with different terminology.

Answer: We have switched to using the term extraordinary assumptions, since that’s the USPAP term, but the term critical assumptions is still acceptable. (I usually use both terms and put one in parenthesis.)

Could you clarify about identifying the client? For example, if a lawyer calls me about an estate appraisal, is he my client or the heir that meets me at the house?

Answer: According to USPAP, the client is the party or parties who engage the client, by employment or contract, an appraiser in a specific assignment. The attorney may be acting as an agent only. The client is the one who signs the agreement. If the lawyer signs the contract, then they are the client.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Moving On Up With Education

By Libby Holloway, ISA CAPP and ARC Instructor

September is ISA’s back to school time. All three of our week long foundation courses, Core Course, Appraisal of Antiques and Residential Contents (ARC) and Appraisal of Fine Art (FA) are offered in the next few months. Shorter courses to include the 15 Hour and 7 Hour USPAP, Requalification and Oriental Rugs are also offered before this year’s end. The Foundation for Appraisal Education (FAE) even gets in the game with their upcoming Symposium in Philadelphia. There are lots of opportunities to make sure you are up-to-date with your qualifications and educational goals between now and mid-December. 

All members know that the Core Course and 15 Hour USPAP are required courses. After these are under your belt, you get a little freedom to choose your educational path and how you get your Professional Development Credits. (Don’t forget, Members need 50, AMs need 75, CAPPs need 100 and Lifetime members need 50 credits to renew.) It is also worthwhile to take a look at the ISA Credentialing Pathway, which provides an overview of the steps you can take to further your education.

It has been traditional to take the course that fits with your specialty area, which is certainly a good plan. Don’t forget, though, that most appraisers see many types of property onsite and need to know the basics of identification and description, whether they plan to complete the valuation or seek help from another member or specialist. Appraisers are also held accountable to appraise only that property they are competent to appraise (see USPAP).

The Appraisal of Antiques and Residential Contents (ARC) and Appraisal of Fine Art (FA) courses are great steps toward becoming an Accredited or Certified Member. Both are survey courses which offer a broad spectrum of knowledge to help appraisers understand at least a little about a lot of types of property. Survey courses don’t make you an expert on any subject but do give you a view of “good, better and best” for many types of property.

Both also teach you the language to use in writing descriptions, to identify and research the best comparable property, give tips on how to write USPAP compliant reports and prepare you to take other, more specialized courses. Since these are onsite courses, you have a chance to study with other members, learning from each other as well as the instructors. I have received help from both members I took ARC with sixteen years ago and from my students who took the course last fall. I admit to being a particular fan of the ARC class, which features lessons on lighting, oriental carpets, and everything in-between. (Maybe I’m a little biased.)  

I have been a CAPP member for several years now and have recently become an ARC instructor. I think I have a pretty good understanding of most decorative antiques and household property. This year, I have finally gathered up enough courage to take the Fine Art course in October. Though I have been comfortable including lower-value art in my reports, I have found that my lack of knowledge has potentially motivated me to turn down jobs with more complicated pieces included. I know that, with my background, I will not be competent to value all art.

That said, it will certainly allow me to be more confident when seeking help from more experienced fine art appraisers or specialists. I would even encourage those members with higher education who are pursuing the Specialty Studies path to consider taking one or both of the survey courses.

We often boast that ISA trains many of the most well-rounded and competent appraisers in the profession. The ARC and FA courses certainly play a part in making this true. I hope that you choose to join Michael Logan and myself in the ARC class this October. See you there!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Get Business Know-How from New ISA Toolbox

EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it! Some of us remember when there were EXTRA editions to the newspapers for extremely important newsworthy information.

The big news from ISA is that the ISA Means Business! Toolbox is officially here. We have listened to you, our members, requesting more business practice information. Whether you need direction in the legal, office, or promotional aspect of starting or fine-tuning your appraisal business, it is all addressed in our new Toolbox.

What you’ll find inside:
  • New Appraiser Resources, including our Guide to Launching an Appraisal Business and blog post on fantastic mobile apps

  • Marketing/Advertising Resources, including tips, member logos, advertising collateral, and much more

  • Templates, including a Client Intake form, Client Project Timeline and Research Log (found within the Guide to Launching an Appraisal Business)
Through blog posts, referral links, templates and more, the resources within the Toolbox will aid ISA members in operating efficient, effective businessesthey may be newly established and looking for help starting up, or they might be existing businesses looking to adopt the latest marketing and operational trends. Tips include software and office practice recommendations and solutions to real-life business concerns, including how to deal with competition and reach the gatekeepers.

We desire your feedback and encourage your comments. If you have more suggestions based on what has worked for you, or you would like submit your thoughts on a new app, template or the like, please let us know about it! The Toolbox will not remain stagnant. It will continue to be enhanced, and so will your business.

ISA Means Business! Toolbox is brought to you by the ISA Membership Retention Committee:

Board Liason: Marian Aubry, ISA CAPP
Committee Chair: Jan Robbins Durr, ISA CAPP
Members: Len de Rohan, Susan Eisen, Robin Braswell, Lottie Stevens, Charles Pharr, Susan Sturdivant, Beth Underhill

Monday, August 15, 2016

Foundation for Appraisal Education Seminar to Discuss Fakes and Forgeries, Sept. 23-24

Founded by the ISA in 2002 as the ISA Education Foundation, the Foundation for Appraisal Education (FAE) is a not-for-profit organization formed to promote the advancement of education related to personal property appraising.

Read their official press release below about their upcoming seminar on fakes and forgeries, offering ISA continuing education credits. 

Matthew S. Wilcox
Fakes and forgeries will be the topic of discussion at many of the talks planned for the 5th annual Foundation for Appraisal Education (FAE) Seminar, on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 23-24, in the galleries of Freeman's Auctioneers & Appraisers, located at 1808 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. Eighteen top experts will speak over the course of the two days.

"Fakes and forgeries have been around since antiquity," said Matthew S. Wilcox, Freeman's Vice President of Trusts and Estates, an FAE board member and host of this year's conference. But, Mr. Wilcox added, the problem really has gotten quite severe in recent years, as the art market has hit record prices and knock-offs have found their way into every market. Even a major international auction house illustrated what proved to be a fake Fernando Botero painting on the cover of a 1993 catalog. Evidently it fooled their specialists, as well as other experts, too."

Appraisers attending this year's conference will receive continuing education class credits, to remain in good standing with the International Society of Appraisers (ISA), based in Chicago, and with sister organizations like the Appraisers Association of America (AAA). As a fundraiser, the event's fees will benefit the ISA. "These organizations are critical to our field," Wilcox said.

Registration and continental breakfast will signal the start of both seminar days, at 8:00am Eastern time. The lectures will begin promptly at 9:00am, lasting 45 minutes each. Friday's first speaker will be Philip Zimmerman, Ph.D., an independent furniture historian (Why Fakes Matter – Authenticating American Furniture). He'll be followed at 9:45am by Eileen Kinsella, Senior Market Reporter for in New York (Online Auctions, Tall Tales and Fake Art).

Next up will be Christopher Storb, the Dietrich American Foundation Project Conservator for the Philadelphia Museum of Art (The Gentle Art: Faking Furniture in the 20th Century and Beyond); followed by Elle Shushan, a Philadelphia-based specialist and dealer in the field of portrait miniatures (Imposters: Faking Faces on Portrait Miniatures). That concludes the morning talks.

At 12:30pm a Lunch & Learn will feature Alasdair Nichol, a Vice Chairman of Freeman's and a guest on TV's Antiques Roadshow (Fake or Fortune). Then, at 1:45pm, art law expert Joshua Kaufman, Esq., of Venable LLP in Washington, D.C., will discuss Case Law For Art Fakes.

At 2:30pm, David Lindquist, owner of Whitehall at the Villa Antiques in Chapel Hill, N.C., will give a talk titled Catching Fakes, Frauds and Alterations by Samson. That will be followed by a coffee break at 3:15, then a seminar by Lisa Minardi, a Ph.D. candidate and Assistant Curator of the Wintherthur Museum in Wilmington, Del., titled Pennsylvania German Fraktur: From A-Z.

Friday's lecture series will conclude with a discussion of Pueblo Pottery and the Market: the Martinez Family, 1890-2016 by Katharine Fernstrom, Ph.D., a teacher at various Maryland colleges and a specialist in appraising Native American art for the market. The private visit to Independence Hall will follow that, led by Karie Diethorn, Chief Curator of Independence National Historical Park. The visit is tentatively planned for around 6 pm, or about that time.

Saturday's speaker series will kick off at 9:00am with Ronald Fuchs, Curator of Ceramics for The Reeves Center at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Va. (Most Dangerous Imitations: Chinese Export Porcelain Fakes from the First Half of the 20th Century). After that will be a seminar titled Examining Thomas Birch Prints, given by Donald H. Cresswell, Ph.D., proprietor of The Philadelphia Print Shop in Philadelphia, and a sometime expert on Antiques Roadshow.

At 11:00am, Robert Trent, a Delaware-based independent furniture historian will give a talk titled Connoisseurship in American Furniture. That will be followed by a lecture by Jennifer L. Maas, Ph.D., President of Scientific Analysis of Fine Art (What is Essential is Invisible to the Naked Eye: Scientific Evidence for Marriages, Fakes and Forgeries in the Fine and Decorative Arts).

The 12:30pm Lunch & Learn discussion will be presented by Adam Harris of the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors (Watches: Luxury or Lie). Then, at 1:45 pm, Irina Tarsis, Esq., the founder of the Center for Law Art in New York City, will give a presentation titled Knoedler on Trial: Lessons Learned From Lawsuits Against America's Oldest Art Gallery.

At 2:30 pm, Letitia Roberts, a New York-based independent ceramics scholar and advisor, will speak about Connoisseurship: In the Eye of the Beholder. A 3:15 coffee break will be followed by a lecture titled Embroidery: The Language of Art by Linda Eaton, a John L. and Marjorie P. McGraw Director of Collections and the Senior Curator of Textiles at the Winterthur Museum.

Saturday's wrap-up speaker will be Thomas Folk, Ph.D., a specialist in paintings, sculptures and decorative arts (Rising Prices – Art Deco Ceramic Sculpture by Waylande Gregory and the Cleveland School).

The registration fee for the seminar is $395 for both days ($220 of which is tax deductible); or $200 for one day. The deadline to register is Sept. 15. Learn more and register here.

You can also obtain a registration form by contacting Maureen Winer at or (410) 337-0085.

To fund these programs, the FAE accepts memorials and gifts from groups and individuals, as well as corporate donations and sponsorships. The group is headquartered at 201 West Lake Street (Ste. 214) in Chicago. To learn more about FAE, please visit Matthew S. Wilcox can be contacted at (215) 385-0726, or at

Monday, August 8, 2016

ASK AN INSTRUCTOR: I have a client who wants ‘estate sale or liquidation value’ of furniture and not a full appraisal report. I believe I know the answer, which is a full appraisal report needs to be completed under USPAP, but I wanted to clarify this with you.

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

I have a client who wants ‘estate sale or liquidation value’ of furniture and not a full appraisal report. I believe I know the answer, which is a full appraisal report needs to be completed under USPAP, but I wanted to clarify this with you.

Answer: The answer is slightly different than you thought. It hinges on the use of the word “full”. What one considers full may not be the same as another’s point of view. A “full” report is what one does every time they complete an assignment; you can’t do half of a report. I’m assuming the question really deals with the extent of the report. There are choices.

You could provide your client with a restricted appraisal report, one that simply states facts and does not summarize or expand upon them. This usually means the report is a little “leaner,” or not as exhaustive. It covers all the elements of the ISA report writing standard and the Standards of USPAP 7 and 8, but it is somewhat simpler, depending on the scope of work and what the client desires. However, a restricted report must not have a third party, so it could not be used for the IRS or an insurance claim or coverage (USPAP Advisory Opinion #11 provides an excellent chart of the differences between a Restricted Appraisal Report and an Appraisal Report).

Any opinion of value is considered an appraisal, but if you are an estate sale liquidator, you do have another option. You can put on your other hat (world’s greatest liquidator) and treat it as an estate sale situation providing your client with pre-sale estimates, just like auction pre-sale estimates. This would not be an appraisal report and is probably what your client wants or needs. However, you can only do that if you are indeed an estate sale liquidator or auctioneer. You must be very clear on which hat you are wearing and that your client does not perceive you as an appraiser. USPAP Advisory Opinion 21 covers this in detail. Valuation services done in other roles, not as an appraiser, are acceptable. Your obligation is not to misrepresent your role. This can be done through disclosure, notification, or careful distinction when speaking to the client. So perhaps the client is asking for something simpler which you might be able to accomplish.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

We Asked the Instructors

No matter where you are in your ISA career, there are courses to help you reach and maintain your credentialing goals.

The pathway is easy to follow, with many courses being offered onsite, online or by distance education. These ISA courses are taught by successful members who are excited to share their wisdom with you, regardless of your history with the organization. Whether you’re a new member or a veteran, we’re confident that there’s something in the lineup for you.

Luckily for us, the sharing doesn’t end when the instructors leave the classroom! This blog post explores some of the top tips, favorite courses and highlights of ISA membership for our instructors. Take a look at their answers, get to know our instructors better, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself inspired to sign-up for one of our upcoming courses this fall.

Why do you enjoy teaching for ISA?

Valerie Hale
"Early in my ISA education, I was supported by generous teachers and was awarded Foundation for Appraisal Education scholarships. It is an honor to pay it forward. Teaching inspires me to grow and expand my own knowledge." - Valerie Hale, Antiques and Residential Contents

"Students are always interested, ask good questions and have good senses of humor. It's stimulating for a teacher to have an active audience." - Ellen Amirkhan, Oriental Rugs

What benefit can a student expect from your course?

Daphne Rosenzweig, ISA CAPP
"Students learn about major aspects of Asian cultural, religious, technical, historical and period styles affecting appraisals of Asian Art. They will be able to appreciate some of the important marks, why the "feel" of objects is important, what is potentially important provenance information, how the presence of standard accompanying objects alters valuations and so much more." - Daphne Rosenzweig, ISA CAPP, Asian Art: Japanese Prints and Asian Paintings and Screens

What do you like best about the course you teach?

Kirsten Rabe Smolensky, ISA CAPP

"I love teaching methodology because it is at the heart of what every ISA appraiser does, regardless of their area of specialization. It is what ties us all together." - Kirsten Rabe Smolensky, ISA CAPP, Core Course and Requalification

Leon Castner, ISA CAPP
"Watching the 'light go off' in student's minds, i.e. they understand. I also love the interaction within the class, student's stories, and sharing tips I've learned that will make their professional journey easier." - Leon Castner, ISA CAPP, Core Course, USPAP and Requalification

What piece of advice would you like to give your students?

Susan Lahey, ISA AM
"Handle as many pieces of Asian Art as possible at auction previews. There is no substitute for the experience gained this way. Touch is often as important as sight when evaluating art. (This is great advice no matter what you're learning about.)" - Susan Lahey, ISA AM, Asian Art: Asian Ceramics

Mickey Logan, ISA CAPP
"Network with other appraisers through contacts you develop at conferences, classes and through the ISA forum. Recognize that you will never know everything and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Be kind and tactful to your clients, especially to those to whom you have to deliver not so good news. Above all, be honest in all your dealings. Remember, your reputation is all you've got." - Mickey Logan, ISA CAPP, Core Course and Antiques and Residential Contents

What do you like about being an ISA member?

Meredith Meuwly, ISA CAPP
"I love ISA for the breadth and depth of knowledge available from a variety of educational platforms, as well as my fellow appraisers who are extraordinary at what they do." - Meredith Meuwly, ISA CAPP, Fine Art and Modernism: Prints, Photographs and Multiples

What was your favorite ISA course that you've taken?

Cathy Peters, ISA CAPP
"I really don't have a favorite. I've learned from them all. I think in another life, I was a perpetual student." - Cathy Peters, ISA CAPP, Fine Art and USPAP
Libby Holloway, ISA CAPP

"Of course I’m partial to ARC but the course I’ve learned the most from is the Requalification course. I learn so much from the other students. You’re never too old or wise to make your reports better, even if you’ve been appraising a long time." - Libby Holloway, ISA CAPP, Antiques and Residential Contents

Don’t hesitate to contact the instructors and ask them your own questions. Almost everyone made the comment that there are no bad questions...sounds like an invitation to reach out to them!

For more information on these and other offerings from ISA, please visit our Education webpage.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

It’s time to update your library!

Did you know that a new version of ISA’s Core Course Manual is now available? A quintessential text in appraisal studies required for the ISA Core Course and the Requalification course, this 2016 version represents the most thorough revision since the late 1990’s.

A culmination of over 30 years in appraisal methodologies and principles, the new Core Course Manual revisits many traditional examples of appraising while enlisting new lessons, updated regulations, as well as the most current samples and checklists available. Complete with a table of contents, as well as a comprehensive index, the Core Course Manual has undergone new revisions to help keep appraisers up to date with the ever-changing industry.

Last year, ISA released the 2015 edition of A Guide to Identification and Evaluation of Antiques and Residential Contents, an important text for those who specialize in general household items. The latest edition covers both the timeless and the modern when it comes to household valuables and residential property. Having undergone a thorough visual update, appraisers can expect quality photos to help guide them through their ARC learning.

Another recently revised text is A Guide to Appraising Fine Art. This reworked manual provides both a basic understanding of the fine art world as well as a fresh look at authentication, connoisseurship, and modern fine art research.

As you develop your career and appraisal skills, it is crucial to stay updated and remain knowledgeable on current practices in your field, as best put by Libby Holloway, ISA CAPP:

“Over the last couple of years both our ARC and FA specialty course manuals have been updated to include new chapters and color photos to make learning easier. These manuals are not only course materials but will hold a place on your reference book shelf for years as some of your most valuable appraising tools. No matter what your specialty, both manuals provide guides for terminology and resources to help you write more professional appraisals.”

To learn more about what ISA has to offer your appraising practice, visit our website here, where you will find all of our educational resources from manuals to webinars and much more.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

ISA Means Business! Part 3: Marketing Tips on the Cheap!

By Jan Robbins Durr, ISA CAPP, Membership Retention Committee

It can be daunting for a new appraiser to face the prospect of marketing themselves to the public. In fact, most appraisers come from an academic background and have had no prior experience marketing their personal brand. However, consider that your expertise from completing the ISA Core Courseand your designated ARC, FA, G&J fieldhas given you a teachable moment to educate a prospective customer on the many aspects of appraising and... you guessed it: You have now marketed yourself.

Obviously, it takes a bit more than knowing your subject well to get you into the door of the gatekeeper. As we have all learned, you usually can’t have a 'do-over' with a first impression. Our tips for marketing (which will be included in the ISA Means Business Toolbox) will pinpoint what leads to that great first impression. Your professionalism, appearance, presentation and marketing materials all factor into being hired. But how do you begin to garner gatekeepers' attention to the qualities of your business? And what marketing efforts are available to those starting a new business who are looking to face as few monetary costs as possible?

We’ve started with a list that can produce results to get your name out to the "right clientele." Here are some "On the Cheap" recommendations of where to begin:
  • Open a free Google business account, which will not only make you more visible on a search engine for appraisers but will also serve to place your business on Google Maps. It also should go without sayingmake sure to fill out your free ISA "Find an Appraiser" profile on the ISA website. As was stated in a June ISA Now blog post, we have 2,500 page views per month to the site, so don’t miss an easy opportunity to show up on the radars of prospective clients!
  • Create a free Facebook account, one that centers on a subject that you think would draw prospects to join. It’s a great opportunity to show your interest in a field and find like-minded individuals who may need your services. The other benefit? It'll put you in a position to expand your own knowledge as well
  • Sign up for HARO, or Help a Reporter Out, a free service where journalists, writers and bloggers post daily Public Relations opportunities for anyone to access and respond to. Three emails are sent out daily, five days a week, filled with queries from news outlets like Forbes, CNN, ABC, Entrepreneur, INC and many more. Answering inquiries quickly will help you rise to the top of their go-to list.
  • Creating your own website can cost you some money. However, it’s either an expense you should budget for or an idea you should research. Find relatively easy-to-use online programs that will allow you to design you own basic website with ease. In today’s world, more people find appraisers on the Internet than anywhere else. It sure beats the days of yellow page ads that cost a fortune. Platforms to consider when seeking to build your own easy, accessible website:, Weebly, eHost, and WiX, to name a few.
  • After creating a website, use it to feature links to other people's content, including ISA's. What better marketing than for the public to see you are with the best society for personal property appraisers?
  • Comment on blog posts. Leaving thoughtful comments on blogs you follow can get you noticed by both the blog owners and their visitors.
  • Check on local business events on Meetup or see what activities local chambers or small business associations are hosting. Face-to-face meetings cannot be overrated, and they often mark the beginning of building those important relationships.
  • Volunteer to speak to groups that include a gatekeeper or grassroots audience, such as social clubs, insurance industry, attorneys, and so forth. If you have written any books or subject handouts that can be shared, by all means do so.
We hope these suggestions will help get you underway in creating additional exposure for your business. Many times it’s been said, it may take five No’s to get to a Yes. Using the arsenal of ideas we are creating with "ISA Means Business," building a strong network will certainly increase your opportunity to be seen and, in turn, find new business assignments.

This is the third part of an ongoing series known as ISA Means Business!, a program created by the ISA Membership Retention Committee that focuses on helping members create and maintain businesses that stay up-to-date and thriving. If you haven't yet, make sure to read the past entries. Part 1 introduces the program as a whole, while Part 2 highlights a host of free-to-cheap apps that may prove useful to those starting a new business.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

ISA Means Business! Part 2: Fantastic Apps for Startups

By Marian R. Aubry, ISA CAPP

So many apps; so little time. And yet, they can be effective tools when it comes to both cutting down on the required time for certain tasks and broadening our efficiency. When trying to determine which ones make sense for your business needs without breaking the bank, one can often feel overwhelmed. (And when you're running a business, how much time do you really have to surf for apps?) A recent survey that utilized the efforts of business startups, PC magazine blogs, CNet and even the Wall Street Journal has come to the rescue. Here are a few apps that they have recommended for those starting their own business.

1. Google. ...Well, actually, if you don't have Google, you should probably go back to sleep. Google is, among many other things, a startup's lifeline. It will take time to learn everything that this app has to offer, but it is well worth the time spent. Google Photos, for example, is as comprehensive as you are likely to ever need while doing practically everything that basic Adobe Photoshop does. True, Photoshop has more bells and whistles, but if you aren't utilizing extensive filters and cartoon captions, Google Photos is a fantastic platform that will help you complete your picture editing without the burden of a heavy price tag. Other offerings from Google include Gmail, Google Drive for storage, Google Docs for shared or community-created files, and Google Analytics to determine your marketing effectiveness. Google is a bargain.

2. Dropbox. This keeps everythingfrom your files, your photosin an online "cloud" for safe electronic storage. When your computer decides to crash (and trust me, it will), all you need to do is find another computer, access your Dropbox from there and continue business as usual. Think of it as a life-saver in the cloud... kind-of like a computerized guardian angel. The first 2 Gigabytes of space in the "box" are free, and additional storage space can be purchased for $10 a month. There are other cloud services out there, but Dropbox has been repeatedly cited by business sources as being the easiest option for start-ups. And I think its 500 million users would agree.

3. Money Management Apps. Managing money is a necessary evil, and managing the accompanying paperwork is equally so. Apps like Mint and Wave allow you to scan invoices and receipts, keep track of them instantaneously, and send to third parties when necessary. They categorize your scans, develop spreadsheets and provide reports that help you see where you're headed financially. Mint has a GPS tracker that helps you clock mileage and add it to your expense information. Wave allows you to accept payments right on your phone. And both apps are offered for free.

4. Archival Apps. CamScanner, ShoeBox, and Tiny Scanner (as well as some Google apps) scan receipts, business cards, offer mileage trackers, and digitize and store all of these docs for organizing later. For research projects, or for those times you find an interesting article but won't have time to read it until later, an app that archives your internet for later perusal is a wonderful one to have. Pocket and Orbital Warehouse are two such offerings, both free. Orbital Warehouse, for instance, even allows you to send specific research to dedicated folders.

5. Microsoft Office. Well, it did come with your computer, after all. Like Google, it is worth the time spent to fully explore the many programs that are included in the Microsoft package. There are a wealth of templates on Microsoft Office that can be time savers, as well.

6. LastPass. If memory serves you... and often it doesn't... there is no more welcome app than a password saver. LastPass is a free app that stores and encrypts all your passwords. No more guessing. No more secret questions. No more remembering if it was upper- or lowercase, or which pet really was your favorite. Think of it as a butler for your passwords. LastPass was voted an Editor's Choice by PC Magazine for 2016. And, oh yes, it is also free.

These are just a handful of apps that will streamline your business-related efforts and give you a more efficient professional experience. Got an app you love? Tell us about it in the comments below!

This is the second part of an ongoing series known as ISA Means Business!, a program created by the ISA Membership Retention Committee that focuses on helping members create and maintain businesses that stay up-to-date and thriving. If you haven't yet, make sure to read the first installment of the series.

Friday, July 8, 2016

ASK AN INSTRUCTOR: How do you respond to an inquiry that assumes that appraisers don’t charge for their work and that we can easily answer questions about their treasures without having to do any work?

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

The ISA website is a very good source of potential work, although many of the inquiries I receive still assume that appraisers don’t charge for their work and that we can easily answer questions about their treasures without having to do any work. This is a typical letter I received just a week ago about appraising a clock or, as the note said, they would “like to know how much it is worth.” Note my answer, which is probably a version of what you say as well. If not, I would suggest making a template to answer these types of inquiries in order to save time and to spare any possible embarrassment or inability to ask for a reasonable fee to compensate you for an answer you have already provided.

I found you on the ISA web page and wanted to ask you for some orientation. I have an LFS huge Grandfather Clock I would like to know how much it is worth. On its back it is marked 81 A together with the LFS logo. Do you think you could give me some hint on how to know its value?

(This is a version of almost every forward I get from the website.)

Answer: Thank you for your inquiry. I am more than happy to assist you in the valuation of your item, however as an ISA qualified appraiser I first need to determine the scope of work necessary to answer your question meaningfully. To give you an appropriate appraisal, I will need a little more information from you. First, can you tell me the intended use of the appraisal? Is it for insurance coverage, to decide whether to give to a family member, part of a divorce settlement, to sell, or just out of curiosity?

The reason this is important is because items may have different values or costs depending on the markets selected for your intended use. I would also need some good quality photos, measurements, and any provenance (history) you have. Once I have this information, I can begin to determine the appropriate value or cost of the item, as well an estimate of the fee to provide your appraisal. My reporting back to you can be in a formally written document, phone call, or email, so long as it adheres to ISA standards. On certain occasions, my reporting may require a full documented appraisal report, such as if there is a third party involved.

I would be extremely wary of someone calling themselves a professional appraiser if they don’t ask for the same information. We must conform to our own ISA standards and the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). I would like the answer to your question to be accurate, clear, and worthy of trust.

Feel free to visit my website at XXXXXXXXX for contact information, as well as some examples of my previous work. I look forward to hearing back from you.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Are You Missing Out On Potential Clients?

First impressions are everything, and appraising is no different. You have the credentials, the experience, and the right skills – there’s no question about it: you’re an ISA member. But who can tell?

Of the many benefits ISA offers its members, one of the most valuable is our “Find an ISA Member” search tool on the ISA website, which allows visitors to search for an appraiser based on location and keywords such as specialties, credentials, or services. With an average of 2,500 page views a month, it is a powerful tool in your professional arsenal that can help maximize your professional presence.

As a member, you are automatically given a profile. But are you making the most of it? Here are some tips to help you get noticed:

1. Location is Everything
A crucial component of the ISA search feature is location. Without it, you won’t pop up in anyone’s inquiries, putting you at risk of missing out on an opportunity that may literally be down the street from you. Be sure to include the city and state where you practice. And if you travel to do appraisals, include that in your “About” section too!

2. Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words?
Maybe, but it’s definitely worth the 60% of people who are more likely to click on your profile simply because you have a photo, according to MDG Advertising. Choosing a high quality, professional photo of yourself can drastically increase the chances of you securing your next assignment.

3. Mind the Details
Not too long ago, the Huffington Post reported that most resumes are skimmed for a few seconds before they are tossed to the side or accepted, and your profile should be no different. This is your opportunity to market yourself as efficiently as possible. Engage visitors with critical information on yourself and what you offer. And while it is important to have your credentials listed alongside your specialties and contact information, don’t forget to let your personality shine through as well. Here is a great chance to offer some insights on your likes and hobbies, memorable experiences, and goals as they relate to your appraising career.

To update your profile, simply login to the ISA website and click on “Manage Your Profile.” Once you’ve confirmed that your contact information is up-to-date, add background information to personalize your profile, check the box labeled “Include in Membership Directory,” and select your areas of expertise in the Find an Appraiser categories. (You are also able to choose five of each section: Specialties, Services and Performs Appraisals Of.) Always remember to Save Changes when you are done with each section.

ISA’s search tool can be tremendously useful for both website visitors and members alike. When used properly, it is a convenient way to advertise your services and capture the attention of potential clientele.