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The Help Center

What is an appraisal?

An appraisal is an informed opinion of the value of an object, based on an in-person inspection of the item or photographs of it, knowledge and research into the value and recent selling prices of similar items and the review of available documentation, such as provenance and sales receipts.

Why can there be different estimates of value?

Antiques can have different types of valuations - valuations for insurance and valuations for sale, for example - and each meets a specific need. Replacement value is the amount used for insurance purposes, and is generally higher than an estimate of what the same object might sell for at auction. Retail value is the price you see on an object in an antique shop or gallery and it too is generally higher than an estimate of what the same item might fetch at auction. If you try to sell to a dealer an antique that you have had valued for insurance purposes, the dealer will offer you substantially less than the insurance valuation estimate.

Why (or in what circumstance) would I seek professional appraisal or related services?

Few private individuals have the extensive expertise and up-to-date knowledge required to accurately estimate the value of their possessions. A documented and informed estimate of the value of an antique or piece of art is useful in many situations. It helps establish a price in sales transactions, it can ensure that family property is divided fairly, and it is critical in setting up insurance coverage and making claims. In addition, professional appraisals are required for certain purposes, such as probate or tax-receipted charitable donations.

What should I look for when choosing an appraiser?

There are no legal or professional body requirements to meet to practice as an appraiser. Ask potential appraisers about their education and specific qualifications as well as their experience, expertise in any particular area, and whether they hold any professional affiliations, such as membership with the Canadian Association of Personal Property Appraisers/Canadian Property Appraisers.

Many appraisers, such as Janet, believe it is a conflict of interest for an appraiser to buy directly from clients. Say that an appraiser values your candlesticks at $800 and offers to buy them for that amount or even a bit more. You may think that is a good deal. And maybe it is a good and fair deal. But it could also mean that your candlesticks are in fact worth much more than $800. To be certain, select an appraiser who has a policy of not buying from his or her clients.

The fees charged by a reputable appraiser should be hourly, a per-item amount, or a fixed price for an entire collection. You should not agree to pay as the appraisal fee, a percentage of the appraised value of an item or a collection.

Why do you not buy directly from or sell to clients?

Janet believes it is a conflict of interest for an appraiser to buy directly from clients, or to sell directly to them. Appraisers are in a position of trust with their clients. They are hired to provide expertise that the client does not have. An unscrupulous appraiser may suggest valuations that are below fair market value in order to buy a piece for a low price.

Do you do speaking engagements?

Yes, Janet is a regular speaker at corporate and association events, fundraisers, antique identification clinics and educational seminars.

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