The ISA NOW Blog has a new home!

You'll be redirected shortly.

Make sure to update your bookmarks.
If you aren't automatically redirected, click the link to visit the new blog.

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.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

New ISA Members

The ISA is proud to introduce you to the newest appraisers to obtain a 2016 ISA membership. Please join us in publicly welcoming them to the Society!
William Bales
Santa Fe, NM
Janel Bedor-Griffiths
Appleton, WI
Keven Belt
Montgomery, AL
Jessica Berger
Streamwood, IL
Susan Conway
Houston, TX
George Cunningham
Phoenix, AZ
Linda Dembek
Naperville, IL
Sophia du Brul
Wilmette, IL
Philip Elia
Davie, FL
Robert Farner
Liberty Lake, WA
Mary Catherine Godvin
Ferndale, MI
Myrna Hayutin
Denver, CO
Faith Hensley
Odessa, MO
Donita Hood
Gwynn Oak, MD
Patrick Houlihan
Sedona, AX
Eric Jenior
Canton, OH
David Kwiat
Encino, CA
Hannah Laws
Plano, TX
Karl LeClair
Boise, ID
James Mabry
Huntsville, AL
Patrick Marlowe
San Antonio, TX
Suzanne McKenzie-Hawtrey
Santa Barbara, CA
Andria Minicucci
Toronto, ON
Adam Muhlig
San Antonio, TX
Karen Murray
Schwenksville, PA
Rebecca Neat
Vancouver, BC
Olga Nodarse Chao
Lakeland, FL
Kimberly Permenter
Austin, TX
Anna Rodgers
Mars, PA
Tamara Stangeby
Seattle, WA
Jannie Stoodley
Calgary, AB
Jessica Strongin
Austin, TX
William Taylor
Burlington, IA
Marcy Wall
Bella Vista, AR
Jonathan Warren
Chattanooga, TN
Yakov Wiessmandl
Lakewood, NJ
Tamara White
New Port Richey, FL
Lelia Williamson
New York, NY
Ethan Yang
Houston, TX
Colleen Zapata
San Antonio, TX

Thursday, June 16, 2016

ISA Means Business!

By Marian R. Aubry, ISA CAPP

Ever wonder what “WWW” really means? It stands for Wow Whata Week – an accurate description of the spectacular ISA Annual Conference in Fort Worth that took place in April, which featured a stellar program chockful of great speakers, timely topics, and networking opportunities that often included wine. Surprises for both ISA members and friends in attendance included a chance to use the research/report writing platform known as Collectrium for free (yes, as in FREE!) – the fact that it incorporates ISA writing standards was certainly an added bonus. It was an exciting gift, to say the least; several appraisers even gave the announcement a standing ovation. Naturally, we were all anxious to try it, even those of us who are normally skeptical of free offers. As industry professionals, we are increasingly reliant on software to help make our businesses more efficient, and with so many options on the market, it can be difficult to determine which platforms are the best to utilize.

In a recent ISA survey, responses showed that ‘business concerns’ was among the top issues that our members would like the organization to address. In the increasingly complex landscape of appraising, aspects like marketing are often bewildering, not to mention expensive. Knowing the best way to operate an appraisal business can leave many scratching their heads. We don’t often have the time or money it takes to hire an outside party to help us wade through those waters. So... where do we begin?

In response to these concerns, the ISA Membership Retention Committee is launching a new feature: ISA Means Business! This program will focus on helping our members operate efficient, effective businesses, whether they are just starting out or making certain that their existing business is up-to-date and thriving. We will begin the launch with blogs, tips and techniques garnered from our member professionals and others; software and office practice recommendations; and entries that address some 'real-life' business concerns, including how to deal with competition and reach the gatekeepers. We are currently at work compiling the ISA Business Start-up Tool Kit, which will assist fledgling and seasoned appraisers alike.

Getting started as an appraiser, opening your first office, deciding on a business strategy, meeting the necessary government requirements, getting the word out, hoping the public will hire you, calming your 'first-timer' jitters – none of this is what you’d call an easy road. It is our hope that ISA Means Business! will at the very least help to ensure that that road is paved.

Happily, one of our most treasured resources as ISA members resides in our very own membership. Years of experience, focused expertise, networking opportunities, mentoring and a host of other ways to connect to each other – these make up the best part of ISA. This new program is not only free, but it is also entirely accessible. You need only ask to be put in contact with someone, and a fellow member will be there to help. And that, friends, is your business tip of the day: Contact Headquarters about getting connected to a mentor.

But hey, don’t just take my word for it. In a recent Forbes article highlighting the best advice ever received by successful business owners, one of the top recommendations for start-ups was… you guessed it…taking advantage of the mentorships available to you.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Take Advice and Make Opportunities

By Helen (Len) D. de Rohan, ISA AM, Membership Retention Committee

You may have seen the new motto spreading amongst ISA members—“ISA means business!”— particularly when fellow members are sharing the advice that they received when they were new appraisers looking to jumpstart their business.

Carol Matesic, ISA AM, is one of several to share her enthusiastic encouragement. “Never be afraid to admit what you don’t know,” she says. “I don’t think anyone has ever faulted me for saying, ‘I don’t know but I do know how to find out or who to call.’ I think that is the best part of ISA … the community of appraisers willing to assist each other in gaining knowledge.”

Cindy Charleston-Rosenberg, ISA CAPP and past ISA President, gives the same advice, which she credits as having been passed to her by the late Norman Hurst. “Never be afraid to admit what you don’t know. It doesn’t undermine your credibility. It actually builds confidence in your integrity when you admit that you have to explore a question further and/or consult with your network of specialists who have a more specific expertise.”

Along the same lines, when I took a Prints and Paintings course from Brenda Simonson-Mohle, ISA CAPP, at the Whitehall Antiques Summer Seminar, she encouraged the class to admit to a client whenever we hadn’t heard of a certain artist. With so many artists from so many periods, we should not expect ourselves to know all of them. 

Several ISA members recommend working with auction houses, galleries or antique businesses. Leila Dunbar, ISA AM, Roadshow sports authority and presenter of two Chubb webinars, says working at an auction house gave her a wide spectrum of expertise and exposure. Gay Gapser Pleasant, ISA AM, works as a phone bidder for Leland Little Auctions, where, despite not being a full-time staff member, she has made valuable contacts with the experts at the auction house. Sarah Campbell Drury, ISA AM, and I both work for Case Auctions, Inc. in Tennessee, a location that puts us in daily contact with a wide range of objects. In fact, many of my appraisal referrals come from the auction house.

Jan Durr, ISA CAPP, notes, “One of the best experiences for me was operating an antiques mall, with the day-to-day fielding of varying questions by dealers and the public. It required research for valuation, growth in product knowledge, and building relationships.”

When she first joined the society, Vanessa Elmore, ISA, another Chubb webinar presenter, worked for almost twenty years in two galleries of Native American art and artifacts. She says that those years gave her industry contacts that included collectors, dealers, museum people, and fellow appraisers. It also gave her an understanding and knowledge of the ‘dealer’ world, insight that can be especially valuable as an appraiser. Developing a relationship with an auction house or retail business can be very beneficial in growing your appraisal business.

Marian (Mo) Aubry, ISA CAPP, says that as a new business owner, “The best advice I ever got came from a business man who suggested not that I write a business plan, but instead, write an employee handbook for myself! It not only forced me to explain my tasks step-by-step, but it also caused me to consider what an employee might want to know about my business—its goals, overall attitude and conduct. The exercise helped me to be better organized and more professional.”

Mandy Sabbadini, ISA AM, believes that mentoring with an experienced appraiser—and working in the field with her mentor—was essential to her growth and knowledge. Maria Gianino, ISA, recommends attending as many continuing educational programs in your area of interest. She also volunteers to speak to local community groups on the subject of downsizing one’s possessions, after which she’ll regularly receive numerous follow-up appraisal inquiries.

These are only a few bits of advice that your fellow appraisers have to offer up. The overall message is clear: The possibilities for advancement in your profession are endless, and you are limited only by your own efforts and imagination. It’s like Dr. Seuss said… “Oh, the things you can think if only you try!”

Friday, June 3, 2016

ASK AN INSTRUCTOR: Can I legally group items by using the sales comparison approach based on experience without researching? And my client desires two values side by side. Is it okay to list the values of each item listing FMV first, followed by liquidation value?

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'm appraising an estate now that's in probate. The problem is MANY things in the will were itemized that shouldn't have been, such as many basic household items. I want to group them because of little individual value, but using the sales comparison approach, can I do this legally based on experience without researching so many individual items? In other words, not having comparables and photos of each item?


My client desires two values side by side: Fair market value and wholesale value (or dealer value). Once the items are released back to her, she will probably sell them to a dealer. Is it okay to list the values of each item (or group of items) side by side, listing FMV first, followed by liquidation value?

Answer: Sure. Let me attempt both answers for you.

1. When things are itemized in a will, even though the values are minimal, you should value them separately. It provides information to the estate executor and/or heirs, even though it may not affect or have any tax consequences. You may have a very short description (I usually use what’s listed in the will) and then provide the valuation. It does not need elaborate description, photographs, or comparables. Just state in your cover letter that many values, particularly those of minimal value, were based on your own personal expertise in the market.

2. I would not use a probate or estate appraisal combined with a re-sale appraisal, especially wholesale. Instead, provide a separate appraisal with different numbers. It shouldn’t be too much of a problem. You are basically duplicating the other one but have a different intended use, objective, value definition, etc. The other option is to tell the client that wholesale values are probably 50% of those on the appraisal (or the appropriate percentage).

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Asian Art II: Asian Paintings and Screens

By Daphne Lange Rosenzweig, Ph.D, ISA CAPP

Why can an accompanying box be an important value determinant?

What’s authentically "Coromandel," and what’s "Coromandel style?"

When are three seasons or seven horses just not enough?

How can inscribed dates be identified and translated?

Who are the heroes and who are the villains?

Where are the markets?

These are just a few of the questions we aim to tackle in "Asian Art II: Asian Paintings and Screens," the two-day (plus field trip day) seminar slated for August 1-3. This course will introduce factors which influence appropriate, defensible appraisals of East Asian (China, Korea, Japan) and Tibetan paintings and screens.

These factors include the data appraisers routinely note (country, title if specified, artist’s name if given, date, medium, dimensions, condition, provenance when known, description of composition, etc.), while also considering details specific to works from these regions. Themes, formats, the role of seals and colophons, the function of the work and other issues which clearly differentiate East Asian and Tibetan paintings and screens from those produced elsewhere in the world will be illustrated.

Though there are many shared characteristics among the paintings of these four areas, there are some strongly individual national characteristics as well. An appraiser must be aware of these, as certain clients can be passionate about heritage issues, themes and styles that are unique to each of these four specific cultures.

The markets for paintings from each of these areas are also very specific. This seminar introduces relevant cultural, historical and restoration issues, as well as typical subjects and symbol systems. Current market conditions will also be explored.

Even though Asian paintings and screens are lifelong studiesand it is often necessary and wise for appraisers to consult expert opinionsat the end of two days, appraisers should know where to begin when confronted with such works. The course is designed to reduce angst and increase confidence!

Students will be asked to print out several information pages from the web to bring to class. They are also invited to bring a relevant item (in digital format) they've encountered in an appraisal, to be discussed with the class as time permits. Worksheets, as well as a guidebook, will be distributed and utilized.

Note: These images, courtesy of a private foundation and a collector, will be discussed in the seminar.