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Friday, July 28, 2017

The Case for ISA: Four Members' Stories

Room at the table for young leadership; an exclusive focus on personal property appraising; a supportive network of fellow professionals and a clear, peer-supported path to credentialing - many ISA members cite these benefits as the reasons why the organization has experienced such dynamic growth in the past decade.

With over 800 members and growing, ISA is the professional organization of choice for the majority of qualified personal property appraisers throughout the US, Canada and abroad.

We asked new and long-time members to report what they value most about our society, why they joined ISA, and why they recommend ISA training and membership to colleagues.

Michelle Conliffe, ISA CAPP 
Michelle Conliffe joined ISA in 2013. Michelle holds an MA in American Fine and Decorative Arts from Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York. Within three years of joining ISA, Michelle earned her CAPP, ISA's highest designation. She has lead volunteer committees, served on strategic task forces, and last year, her fresh ideas and natural leadership skills were rewarded when she was selected by her peers to serve on the National Board of Directors. ISA's defined personal property focus, strategic plan for growth, and members’ diversity in geography and expertise initially attracted Michelle to our organization.

"In 2012, I made the difficult decision to leave an established auction house and go into business for myself as an appraiser. At the time, I did not know everything that would be required to launch my business, but I knew that I would need an accreditation that reflected the high standards I set for myself and my work.

Of the three major appraisal societies, ISA stood out for a few reasons. 1) The ISA community is focused primarily on fine and decorative art appraisals. 2) The membership has the widest geographical reach, giving me access to a large network of professionals that possess a broad range of expertise. 3) There is a path to growth within the organization that reflects the work and effort I put into it, rather than depending on an arbitrary length of service.

I have found first-hand that if you have a fresh idea or see a part of the organization that needs improvement, ISA wants to hear your voice. With this diversity of ideas, I know that ISA will continue to grow and thrive as the leading personal property appraisal organization."

Glenn M. Rand, ISA, EdD
Glenn M. Rand, EdD, joined ISA in 2016. As a seasoned educator with a doctorate of education and 12 published books in the field of photography, Glenn was looking for a professional organization that would reward the connoisseurship he brought to the field, allowing him to apply his advanced training toward acquiring his appraising credential. Glenn found ISA's unique Specialty and Advanced Studies Committee vetting pathway very attractive, because it allowed him to demonstrate his scholarship without compromising the advanced methodology training he knew he needed to feel fully qualified to begin a second career in appraising.

"Having had full careers in higher education, as an artist, as an author and having recently created a fine art services business, it was natural to see professional appraising as a future path.

Being familiar with appraisals from collecting art and my work with donations to museums, I realized that education and knowledge of prevailing standards would be required to adequately provide appraisal services to clients.

In reviewing the potentials for acquiring this knowledge base, it became clear that ISA provided the most inclusive educational programs and professional potentials. Through ISA, I have meet professionals willing to share their experiences, knowledge and collaboration, helping me chart my new career direction."

Darlene Hines, ISA CAPP
Darlene Hines joined ISA in 1998. Darlene holds ISA's highest appraisal designation, and is a past National Board member with almost 20 years of service in a broad range of capacities. She typifies the generosity of spirit unique to ISA that values supporting colleagues to grow and excel. She has recommended many employees to membership without fear of competition. Darlene's motto is "Givers Gain." There may not be a better illustration of the supportive culture that ISA encourages than Darlene's tireless example to "work together rather than compete."

"When I joined ISA in 1998, my husband and I owned an antique gallery and we were getting requests for appraisals. At the time, I was working toward a Master’s Degree, working full time, and raising three children. Determined to make the great adventure of becoming an appraiser work, I chose ISA for its strong ethical characteristics, options for continuing education, networking opportunities, and because it was simply the best organization in the field.

It's rewarding to speak of ISA to others seeking membership or expressing a zeal for appraising. I have referred many of my employees to ISA over the years, including a new member who I believe will be a rising star. I have also started a local appraisers' group with current ISA appraisers in Michigan. We meet for lunch and discuss the importance of credentialing, continuing education, and service to the organization. If I could help encourage appraisers to work together rather than compete, we would set a positive example for our businesses and ISA."

Pam Campbell, ISA CAPP
Pam Campbell joined ISA in 1994. Together with her husband, Bill, she operates one of Ft. Worth's most prestigious contemporary art galleries with a prominent national reputation. As a long-standing member of more than one professional appraisal organization, Pam migrated to ISA because she valued the society's exclusive focus on personal property appraising, and the superior local support and continuing education she found in her active local chapter.

"ISA offered a wealth of advantages to me as a personal property appraiser that I did not find in the other organization in my geographical area. ISA’s local chapter holds regular monthly meetings, with superior personal property-focused education, in addition to the opportunity to socialize with colleagues.

ISA coursework gets to the point, with a nuts-and-bolts approach rather than abstract concepts. The many courses offered by ISA beyond the Core Course allow members to continue to be excited about learning, with new courses constantly in development.

With ISA, I found a group of colleagues who were and remain welcoming, willing to collaborate, are generous with knowledge, and are interested in strengthening the appraisal profession."

Would you like to become part of the ISA family?

For those new to the profession, learn more about how ISA can help you launch a lucrative career in personal property appraising.

For seasoned professionals, view our complete list of ISA benefits designed to help you grow and succeed as a personal property appraiser.

If you’re currently a member of another appraisal organization, be sure to view our ISA Bridging Policy. Through December 15, 2017, your application fee is waived.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What Kind of Shape is Your Report In?

by Michael Logan, ISA CAPP

Michael Logan, ISA CAPP
When was the last time you evaluated your appraisal report to see if it was meeting ISA and USPAP guidelines? When was the last time someone else reviewed one of your reports? Many people would say they haven't had a report reviewed since they took the Core Course 15 years ago or applied for CAPP. As you might suspect, things have changed a little since then. In fact, report requirements are constantly changing. Though many people may feel like what they are doing is fine if nobody is complaining, I'd like to encourage you to take the time to review one of your recent reports. I think it will surprise you. Also, if you don’t have a Core Course manual that is less than two years old (the 2016 revision is current), you need to get one.

As an instructor of the Core Course, Requalification and Antiques, Furnishings + Decorative Arts, I have noticed many common errors made in reports in each of these classes. I've compiled them into a list below to assist you in making sure your reports are up to date and up to ISA standards.

What to Include

  • An ISA report must have three sections: 1) A cover document written in letter form on your company letterhead; 2) A body which includes the appraisal specific information about the items being appraised; and 3) An addendum, which can include many things but must include your professional profile or CV which is normally the last thing in the report. Refer to the Core Course manual for more details on what each section of your report should include.
  • The Core Course manual contains an Appraisal Checklist on page 20-2 and following. Use it to make certain you have included everything applicable.
  • The Core Course manual also contains a couple of sample cover letters for reports beginning on page 19. There's no need to reinvent the wheel - though you will need to change parts of these sample documents so they pertain to your report (names, dates, conditions, etc.), these letters provide great guidelines for what your cover letter should contain. The language in them has been specifically chosen for its brevity and meaning. When you make changes to the wording of these letters, you will want to do so carefully to ensure that you clearly state the required information for an ISA compliant report.
  • Include in your report, preferably in the beginning, a statement that says, "The objective of this report is to ___________ for the intended use of ________." For instance "The objective of this report is to estimate the replacement cost of the items for the intended use of obtaining insurance coverage."
  • Shoot for three good comparables if at all possible and explain your justified reasoning for the value conclusion.

ISA and USPAP Guidelines

  • It is important to remember you are writing an ISA report and it must be in compliance with ISA and USPAP Standards. In fact, in your report in the USPAP Certification you certify that "This appraisal has been prepared in conformity with and is subject to the current version of The International Society of Appraisers Appraisal Report Writing Standard and Code of Ethics. In addition, my analyses, opinions and conclusions were developed and this report has been prepared in conformity with the current version (2016-2017) of the Appraisal Foundation’s Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP)." You can be certain that if your report meets ISA requirements it will meet USPAP.
  • If you are used to using a format that came from some other source, don’t use it with your ISA logo or credentials. Often, report formats from outside sources don’t meet either ISA or USPAP standards. If you belong to another organization as well as ISA and use their guidelines for your report, then use your credentials from them on the report and in the USPAP Certification, not ISA's.


  • Check and recheck your terminology. Terms may have changed. We Determine Value, Estimate Cost and Calculate the Present Worth (or Value) of future income. No other descriptors will do!
  • Clearly define the market you are using. The markets are: Retail, Wholesale, Orderly Liquidation and Forced Liquidation. Within these markets are a variety of sources. Different items in an appraisal may require different markets.
  • Once you know the objective you must select the correct approach to value/cost. There are three approaches: the sales comparison approach, the cost approach and the income approach. Again, use the correct terminology. NOTE: Some terminology is different for Canadian appraisals. Choosing the wrong approach is one of the most frequent mistakes, especially for the new appraiser, followed closely by selecting the incorrect market for comparables; for instance using gallery asking price for fair market value comparables. Good for replacement cost, not so good for fair market value.

Formatting Your Report

  • Accept the help your spell check is offering. It won’t catch everything and you may occasionally need to override it, but it is worth a look.
  • Take good photographs (not always required but always a good idea).
  • Number all pages "Page x of y." Put them in the same font and size, and in the same location on each page.
  • Finally, remember you are writing for your client’s understanding. Make sure the report flows and is easy to read. If you use terms that may not be familiar to them put them in a glossary (another good item for your addendum). Don’t be repetitive. There is no bonus for extra pages.
Is the above everything you need to know? No, but it will get you well on your way to a quality ISA Appraisal Report that will set you apart from the pack. Remember, your report is often all your client knows about your work! You want to be sure it will stand up to scrutiny.

- Michael Logan, ISA CAPP

Ask an Instructor: Who Can Use Restricted Appraisal Reports?

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

Question: I know that USPAP states that we cannot complete a Restricted Appraisal Report when there is an intended user other than the client, but what about when a brother and sister are the only intended users? Both are familiar with the property being appraised, and both have used appraisal services in the past. Is there a way to produce a Restricted Appraisal Report for multiple parties and remain USPAP compliant?

Answer: USPAP Standards Rule 8-2 is clear that when intended users include parties other than the client then a Restricted Appraisal Report cannot be used by the appraiser. That said, USPAP does allow multiple parties to engage an appraiser in an assignment. So, if both the brother and sister in the above example engage the appraiser as co-clients, then there would be no intended users besides the client(s). As such, a Restricted Appraisal Report would be permitted under USPAP in this particular situation.

- Meredith Meuwly, ISA Director of Education

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ask an Instructor: June Office Hours Follow-Up

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

Thank you to everyone who participated in the June 6 Office Hours webinar. I was very pleased with the great attendance and the thoughtful questions that our participants asked. I hope that everyone was able to learn something new, receive clarification on a particular point, or confirm that they have been doing something the right way. The next free Office Hours webinar is scheduled for December, but in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me or one of your ISA instructors for assistance. We’re happy to help! Here are a couple of questions and answers that were shared on the webinar:

Question: Is there a place on the ISA website to download the most recent checklists?

Answer: Yes! If you are an ISA member, then you can access the Forum on the ISA website. The Education section will have the most recent ISA appraisal report writing checklist available for you to download. The current version is the 2016 checklist. As changes will be coming for USPAP in 2018, the Education staff will update the checklist as needed and send to the membership to make sure our appraisal reports remain in compliance with USPAP.

Question: When a report is signed by more than one appraiser, are they equally responsible for the contents of the report even if they only contributed to one section (i.e. fine arts, furniture)?

Answer: As currently written in USPAP Standards Rule 8-3, each personal property specialist signing the certification is responsible for all aspects of the appraisal. This rule remains in effect through December 31, 2017. That said, this is one of the USPAP changes for 2018-2019. The adopted revision adds disclosure of roles each appraiser has in an assignment, limiting their responsibility to their respective role, not all roles/assignment results. This revision will go into effect on January 1, 2018.

- Meredith Meuwly, ISA Director of Education