An art and antique professional appraisal can take more than just a few minutes. To get an accurate assessment of the value of your items, you will need to hire an accredited appraiser to do a thorough inspection, conduct research, sort through relevant documentation, and prepare a written appraisal report.

As the appraisal customer, you can help this lengthy process along by preparing your home and items beforehand. Here are some things you can do to help your appraiser work effectively and reduce unnecessary costs:

1. Choose Which Items to Get Appraised

Before you hire an appraiser, you will need to decide which items you wish to get appraised. While you may feel tempted just to have someone come in to inspect the entire home or estate, asking a professional appraiser to look over everything could be cost-prohibitive. We recommend choosing items that you think may have gained value over time, such as expensive jewelry, collectibles, and art from listed and local artists.

If your items to be appraised are scattered around the home, it’s a good idea to mark them. You may wish to move them into a single room or tag them with colored sticky notes.

2. Find a Professional Appraiser

Professional appraisers must go through rigorous training, education, and certification. To make sure your appraiser has the right qualifications, look for an appraisal company accredited by a well-known organization such as the International Society of Appraisers (ISA). You should also check that your appraisal expert is insured and licensed in your state.

Once you have found a qualified appraiser, you will most likely be able to schedule a free initial consultation. The consultation is a time for you to ask questions and get recommendations for your next steps based on the items you wish to have appraised. Keep in mind that a free consultation is not the same as an appraisal.

3. Explain Your Goals

The market value of your personal property depends on what you plan to do with it. Since the International Society of Appraisers (ISA) defines market value as the most probable price that a buyer will pay and a seller will receive, the value depends on whether and how you intend to sell the item. Each item can have a marketable cash value, replacement value, actual cash value, and many other appraisal values, which may all be different numbers.

To get an accurate assessment, be sure to tell your appraiser whether you intend to donate, insure, or sell the appraised items. The context of an estate or divorce settlement and your time frame can also affect the estimated value.

4. Take Photos of the Items

Many appraisers ask clients to send photographs of their art or antiques. While pictures alone may not be enough to assess the value of the items, they do give the appraiser an idea of what they will be appraising and whether the project is worth taking on.

5. Collect Related Documents

Part of the appraisal process is combing through any documents that could give insight into the value of the art or antiques. Look for receipts, certificates of authenticity, auction records, restoration reports, past appraisal records, invoices, book references, and any other documents you may have that are related to the item. By pulling these documents together beforehand, you may save time and money on the appraisal process.

6. Finalize the Appraisal Plan

Next, you will need to schedule a meeting time or call with your appraiser. Be sure that you and your appraiser are on the same page about the appraisal objectives, assignment tasks, payment arrangements, and whether you are using a full appraisal assignment contract or not.

7. Organize Items to Ease Evaluation

For an efficient appraisal, make the items in question easy to access. Remove artwork from walls and place fragile items outside of display cases for easy inspection. Place smaller items on a table on top of a towel or other padding.

If you have a lot of art, antiques, and other items to be appraised, it helps to organize them for the appraiser. You may wish to make an inventory based on information about the artist or maker, past purchase date, and the previous price paid.

You should also make sure there is plenty of light, power, and ideally temperature control in your designated appraisal area.

8. Clean Dust and Grime Off of Antiques

If there is dust or dirt on your antiques, lightly clean it off. Heavy dust and grime can affect the appraiser’s ability to inspect or photograph the item. However, DO NOT clean paintings on your own or remove them from their frames, as you may damage the painting.

9. Create a Workspace

You may want to help the appraiser by clearing off a work surface and chairs they can use during the appraisal. If you don’t have any space, you can let the appraiser know they will need to bring a working table with them.

10. Be Available During the Appraisal

The appraiser will need you to show them where the items to be appraised are, especially if they haven’t all been marked and moved to a designated area. They may also have questions about the items’ history and any additional undocumented information you can provide. Ideally, you should schedule the appraisal when you can stay in or near the work area.

It also helps to reduce interruptions in the work area. We recommend keeping young children and pets away from the appraisal space and any nearby TVs or radios off.

11. Be Ready to Respond to Any Post-Inspection Questions

Regularly check your email, phone, or any other contact method you provided before and after the inspection. Your appraiser may have additional questions for you as they do their post-inspection research.

12. Be Prepared to Pay Professional Appraisal Fees

Professional appraisers do not work for free. Before the appraisal, you and the appraiser will need to agree to a fee and payment schedule. Some appraisers may have fees due at the inspection time, while others may charge their full fee after completing the appraisal report. After you pay the appraisal fees, the appraiser can send you your report as soon as possible.

Need a Certified Professional Appraiser in Seattle?

Fruitcocktail Collectibles is an ISA-accredited and licensed appraisal company based in the SoDo neighborhood of Seattle. We have been helping clients in the Puget Sound region with appraisals, estate sales, and consignment needs for over 20 years. If you are looking for an appraiser with a well-trained eye and a passion for uncovering lost treasures, sign up for a free consultation today.