The Appraisal Process

What is an appraisal?

An appraisal is the act or process of determining value, estimating cost, or determining present worth earnings. Appraisals are opinions based on informed judgment, supported by facts and using specific methodologies. Did you know that the same item may have many different appraised values depending upon how the client intends to use the appraisal? Qualified and educated appraisers understand the many different types of values, assigned uses and market levels. 

There are many personal and business matters that need a determination of value and require a professional written appraisal. The Federal Government requires certified appraisals when values need to be determined for establishing a basis for income tax deductions for charitable donations, or for estate tax liability if the decedent’s estate is sufficiently large to warrant such a tax. The amount of insurance that one carries on personal property, collectibles and fine art is often determined by an estimate of how much it would cost the insured to replace the property if it were lost or damaged. In cases of divorce, couples are required to establish a value on shared property in order to establish an equitable distribution of property. In these cases, a written appraisal report provided by an accredited appraiser from one of the major professional appraiser organizations is needed. 

What is involved in the appraisal process? 

Whether you are just curious about what your collection is worth and want a “verbal approximation of value” or you need a written appraisal report for insurance or a legal matter, Guernsey and Associates can provide you with professional and accurate results. 

Your first step is to call or email us. After discussing your needs and personal property to be appraised, we will determine with you the most efficient and cost effective approach to take. If you only need a VAV (verbal approximation of value) we can provide that. We also provide summary written reports for insurance and self contained written reports for legal functions such as equitable distribution and estate matters as well as for IRS functions such as charitable donations. Our initial discussion will determine the best direction for you, the client. While emailing good quality jpegs are helpful for initial discussions, we still require a formal inspection of the works to be appraised. 

Inspections take place in your home, office, storage area, or wherever the collection is stored or on display. This prevents any transit damage to your collection. We do travel outside the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. During an inspection we will take many color digital photos (all sides as well as details of signatures and markings), measure the works, and do a condition assessment. Any documents, receipts, letters or other information you can share with the appraiser during the inspection is extremely helpful. 

It is important to remember that appraisers do not authenticate. Appraisers assign value. Sharing any information you have concerning the authenticity of a work helps in the appraisal process. If a work needs to be authenticated in order to obtain the most accurate value, we have access to specialists, gallery and museum personnel, independent dealers and artists’ estates. Any additional expenses to authenticate are paid by the client. 

After a thorough inspection, the appraiser returns to begin researching. Researching is the most extensive part of an appraisal. We use auction and gallery data bases, specialty catalogues and price guides not available on-line, and our own reference libraries. We also consult with art professionals across the country as needed. 

What happens after the appraisal report is completed?

After research is completed, we return to the client with a verbal approximation of value or prepare a formal written appraisal report. Our written appraisals always conform to the standards of the International Society of Appraisers and USPAP, the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. Our clients are provided with two color printed and spiral bound reports. We can also provide PDF’s and CD’s if that is the client’s preference. 

We do not purchase or sell any works. If you are interested in selling your works after the appraisal process, we are happy to make recommendations as to where you can take your works or who is best to contact for a future transaction. Beware of people who appraise and then offer to purchase your works at the appraised value. You may not get the most accurate or fair valuation if a dealer is interested in purchasing your work to mark up and resale. 

Our fee is based on a hourly rate for inspection, verbal approximation of value, research and report preparation. Travel and authentication expenses are additional. If you have further questions about the appraisal process or to get a quote for services for your individual needs, please contact us.