How to Find a Reliable Antique Appraiser

May 7th 2016

A reliable antique appraiser provides an accurate written description of your item, its current market value and the cost of replacing it. Find a qualified appraiser who has experience with items similar to yours, and take the time to compare service providers before making a final decision.

Don't Sell to Your Appraiser

Asking your local coin shop owner to take a look at your Morgan silver dollar may seem like a good way to determine its value, but an individual who may have an interest in buying your item isn't in the best position to provide a fair valuation of its worth. Hire an appraiser solely for the purpose of assessing the value of your antiques to avoid any conflict of interest that could cause a biased review.

Avoid Commission-Based Fees

Similarly, appraisers who charge a percentage of the estimated value are more likely to give an assessment that is higher than average. Search for an appraiser with reasonable hourly fees or a flat per-item rate to ensure fairness and reliability.

Do You Need a Specialist?

A good general antique appraiser usually provides a reliable valuation for most common vintage and heirloom items, but certain types of antiques require a specialist for an accurate appraisal. See a general appraiser to determine the worth of great grandma's living-room furniture, a Native American pottery bowl and the incredibly old silver baby spoon that your metal detector helped discover. Visit a specialist for an accurate appraisal of Uncle Joe's stamp collection, a traditional katana sword and your fine art collection.

Hire a Qualified Professional

In most locations, appraisers are not required to hold any type of licensing or certifications. Instead of searching online or in the Yellow Pages, ask your estate attorney or a trust manager at your bank for a recommendation. Organizations such as the American Society of Appraisers and Appraisers Association of America provide convenient search tools to help you find reliable, qualified appraisers in your area.

What About Online Appraisals?

While most experts recommend against the use of online appraisal services, there are some advantages in certain situations. Online valuations are convenient, inexpensive and quick, and reliable online appraisers can usually provide a realistic estimate of an item's worth. Online appraisals are only estimates, however, and are not accepted for insurance or financial purposes. Online services help determine if vintage household items may have any value, but are not a reliable source for a true appraisal.

Conclusion

Whether you're appraising heirloom jewelry for insurance coverage or just wondering if the vintage pottery in your attic holds any value, it's important to find a reliable appraiser who can provide an accurate evaluation of what your antiques are worth. Keep these tips in mind when you're searching for an appraiser.

Sources

Money.CNN.com "Treasure or trash? 10 ways to find out" http://money.cnn.com/2002/06/03/pf/yourhome/q_appraise/
TheWiseCollector.com "How to find an antiques appraiser" http://www.thewisecollector.com/how-to-find-an-antiques-appraiser.html
WSJ.com "Services spot hidden gems among the junk" http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703447004575450170902767324
ConsumerReports.org "How much is your stuff worth?" http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/10/how-much-is-your-stuff-worth/index.htm

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