A Value Quest Appraisals & Value Consultations

Certified Appraisers of Personal Property

Welcome to A Value Quest. We are a personal property appraisal firm with two fully qualified certified appraisers and expert value consultants at your service. Our mission is to provide you with the information you need to make knowledgeable choices when hiring a qualified professional certified appraiser. Our mission is to serve you as your personal appraisal value specialists. Please review our credentials on our qualification pages.

Our Services

Full appraisal and value consulting services including reports and consultation:

  • Insurance, insurance loss, photographic and/or video contents documentation
  • Estate Probate, Federal IRS Estate reports, heir distribution
  • IRS Charitable Donation, Gift Tax, & Casualty Loss reports
  • Verbal evaluation and value consultations for multiple value needs
  • Equitable Distribution & divorce consultation or reports
  • Value mediation or arbitration for insurance, divorce, estates
  • Pre and Post Purchase Confirmation of Fair Purchase Price
  • Resale, pre sale value consultation
  • Expert Witness Testimony; Pre-Post Trial value consultation for attorneys
  • Appraisal Review
  • Value Presentations & Public Speaking
  • Estate Sale Agent and/or Value Consultation
  • Business contents inventory and valuation
  • Liquidation valuation for Orderly, Immediate or Distress Forced Sale
  • Our extensive education and experience enables us to be full service professional valuation experts ready to serve the private public, business, and legal professions.

    We serve the public or professional fields equally. Our value opinions are strictly independent of who we work for, impartial. We are value information providers.

    If you have appraisal or valuation needs please contact us. Our articles and blog are there to give you information to enable you to make knowledgeable value decisions in your own best interest. Our best regards and looking forward to serving you. Randeen Cummings Nelson AiSCV-AVS and Sonja Laufer AiSCV-AVS

    How Do I Find A Qualified Appraiser Certified Appraiser

    Discerning Appraisal Qualifications Buyer Beware

    I am asked so many times how do you choose a qualified appraiser. Personal Property appraisers are not real estate appraisers. Personalty (Personal Property) appraisers value antiques, collectibles, machinery, vehicles, farm equipment, business contents, anything moveable. That is the difference between Personal Property appraisers and Real Estate appraisers.

    BUYER BEWARE! At the moment, anyone can hang out a shingle and call themselves an appraiser of personal property. Do the research to find out the in depth value education and the actual appraisal experience of your potential appraiser. An appraiser with only experience or only education is like a two legged dog, it is a problematic situation. Having neither education or experience of substance is a disaster. This section of A Value Quest is dedicated to giving you the information to make knowledgeable decisions for your own benefit.

    Currently there are no federal regulations governing the appraisal profession. As long as we can govern ourselves and inform the public as to what appraisal qualifications really, stand for that is probably a good thing. However, there are so many what I call weekend warriors. People who participate in a short 2 day, 15 hour crash appraisal course, then proclaim themselves as a qualified “Certified” appraiser. Or appraisers that are dealers in an area such as antiques, gems and jewelry, machinery, etc. who have no standardized education based on ethics and valuation science. This creates a definite challenge for the public on how to choose a qualified appraiser who really has the valuation knowledge, education, and experience needed.

    You, the public, need to be aware of what credentials really mean. You want to choose a personal property (personalty) appraiser that is accomplished and holds an valuation accreditation or certification that really means something. You do not want to hire “a pig in a poke”. You want to hire a professional qualified to ask you the right questions and deliver the correct product fitted to your need and any laws that apply. You need a credentialed “certified” “qualified” appraiser with some punch and meaning. We will provide you with some information on a number of the major Personal Property Appraisal Associations to assist you in recognizing and choosing a qualified appraiser.

    Personal Property Appraisal Associations

    AiS Appraisers International Society

    Founded by Elly Rosen, author of the original comprehensive personal property courses for ISA and several other organizations. This association has global participation over 3 continents and 6 countries. Offered are current and up to date Core Courses, Advanced Courses in Law, Tax valuation and Expert Witness for accredited diplomas, and certification as International Valuation Specialists. Available are also additional certification courses in Specialty Areas such as Gems, and jewelry and appreciable residential contents.

    This Certification program brings the appraisal profession into the 21st century on a national and global basis. The certification program as Valuation Specialists is the most comprehensive to date with 235 hours of instruction and tests, not including research assignments. After being an certified appraiser since 1992 with International Society of Appraisers and then taking theses AiS courses, it is my opinion that this is the most advanced valuation science education available.

    The International Society of Appraisers ISA

    The membership of this not-for-profit organization includes appraisers, auctioneers, estate liquidators and galleries. Respected long time organization, requiring study to be a qualified appraiser. I was an accredited member since 1986, certified since 1992 with ISA. Offered are core courses and specialty courses for accreditation and certification, approximately 115 hours of instruction. The courses were originally authored by Elly Rosen in the early 1980s but has not, in my personal experience, greatly enlarged upon the original basics of the founding courses. This organization requires the USPAP 15 hour course every two years, see below. This was a huge problem for me personally. This requirement places people taking a 15 hour course in direct competition and on a par with long time dues paying, value educated members who have committed to ongoing education.

    Appraisers Association of America AAA

    The Appraisers Association of America’s certified members appraise fine arts, jewelry and personal property. Respected long time association, requiring study to be a qualified appraiser. Similar study to above. Main focus of this association is Real Estate valuation with a branch for personal property. As above requires USPAP in direct competition with its paid and ongoing education paying members.

    Art Dealers Association of America ADAA

    The ADAA service appraises art from the old masters to the contemporary for tax purposes. Since 1962, requires accordance with their code of ethics.

    The Appraisal Foundation AF or TAF (USPAP)

    The Appraisal Foundation was founded in 1987 as a not-for-profit educational organization. It was founded to oversee federally regulated real estate transactions over $250,000 and after a several year study declined to include personal property in its oversight requirements. Even if this organization is promoted by personal property associations as for all appraisal professionals (both real estate AND personal property for whatever reason, it must be understood that the USPAP course and report writing standards are for real estate appraisers reporting on federally regulated sales over $250,000.

    CAGA Certified Appraisers Guild of America

    This organization promotes itself as the #1 Personal Property Appraiser’s Training in America. What should be understood, however, is that a novice can go and in a two day weekend become a “Certified” Appraiser. 8 am-5pm 2 days and you are “certified”. Wow! Believe you me, they probably have lots of enrollees in their once a year July class. 2 days and you are ” in like Flinn”. And what they teach appears to be the USPAP without the name.

    The Certified Appraisers Guild of America confers the professional membership designation CAGA to recognize the completion of the appraiser’s certification education. (sic. 2 day course) Members are professionals who have completed the certification process. “(sic. 2 day course)

    In addition, the members have made a commitment to the Certified Appraisers Guild’s Code of Professional Ethics and to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice.” (sic USPAP)

    There are organizations that if you pay your dues, you are “certified”! BUYER BEWARE, before you hire do your own research to find out the real meaning behind the words “accredited” “certified”. Find out the real education and experience of your potential appraiser.

    Some appraisers just hang out a shingle, many are dealers. They know their market, they are not trained to look at, or to even understand the different markets. They do not know the laws that apply and how to write to a valuation standard. Knowledge in a trade does not give you valuation knowledge. Unqualified appraisers in specific situations such as donations, estates, divorce, insurance loss assignments, though well meaning may even seriously harm their clients by over or under valuations that lead to monetary loss for the client. Again, know who you are hiring and investigate their education, the appraisal standard and ethical code they subscribe to, and their experience within the areas you want appraised.

    Certified Appraiser of Personal Property

    My Appraiser Story & AiS Appraisers International Society

    My personal story started in the 1980s when as an antiques dealer, I was requested to testify at a deposition concerning antiques and collectibles. That one experience told me I did not know what I was doing as far as valuation procedures were concerned. I knew my own sales market, but I knew I did not know enough to be competent in the important position I was sitting in, the whole market for this situation. I never wanted to feel that incompetent again. I started researching appraisal associations and schooling.

    In 1986 I attended the ISA (International Society of Appraisers) Core Course taught through Indiana University School of Continuing Studies and taught by the foremost teacher and founder of the professional appraisal studies available at that time, Elly Rosen.

    I continued after the Core Courses to get advanced courses and finally certification in 1992. Shortly after that ISA had a re-organization and the founder of the program was no longer involved. From that point on, I re-certified when necessary and took the required by ISA the USPAP Courses also. I, however, with the re-organization did not feel that I received any more from the classes, instead they were, in my opinion, watered down. I was very active in ISA on a regional and lesser so on a national basis, but did not feel I was continuing to learn. From day to day appraising I perfected and adapted what I had learned to the scope of assignment and the laws that applied. Unconsciously, as an appraiser, I was progressing into the 21st century.

    In January of 2013, I re-connected with Elly Rosen and along with my, now departed husband, and associate/daughter began classes again through AiS (Appraiser’s International Association). In October of 2013, after 235 hours of class time plus intensive additional assignments and study, we completed the Core Courses and the Advanced classes in Law, Taxes, and Expert Witness and took the final test for the certification Diploma.

    Educated and experienced from the 1980s, this was the most challenging and career changing experience of my life. It brought everything prior into focus, deleted all the misconceptions and mistakes of the profession teaching of the past, and thrust me into the new paradigm of the global 21st century of professional appraising. We took part in the last developmental classes before it is offered nationwide and globally.

    I can personally recommend to professional appraisers who want to be accomplished appraisers of the 21st century, this AiS program. It truly challenges you to be a better appraiser than whatever experience and education you have performed from in the past. It will push your boundaries to the point that you become an expert worthy of the name. This program from the founder of the ISA program that created the standard for the other major professions to follow, is truly, in my experienced opinion, the 21st century professional appraisal model for the future of appraising.

    USPAP Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practices

    USPAP Qualifications … What You Need to Know

    Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practices (USPAP) was created because of the real estate debacle of the late 1980s into the 1990s. Even though it is touted as the “standard” for all appraisers, is solely related to and for federally regulated real estate transactions over $250,000. It is a minimum standard, a checklist structure that realtors must write to when submitting reports for federally regulated transactions over $250,000. The Appraisal Foundation that overseas this area, does not regulate personal property.

    In the 1990s after a two year study TAF (The Appraisal Foundation) found that it was not “desirable” to include personal property in its regulations. Several organizations such as International Society of Appraisers and American Society of Appraisers require their members to take this course. Quote: ” It is important to note that this document sets out minimum criteria with which personal property appraisers may voluntarily wish to comply with.” In short, USPAP applies to…Real Estate.

    My personal opinion and issue with the personal property associations promoting it for personal property is:

    • As noted in IRS guidelines for “qualified appraiser” it uses USPAP as an example of a minimal standard of competence that any appraiser, Realty or Personalty, should write their reports to.
    • This report writing checklist for realtors with an accompanying code of ethics (Which is a very good thing!) creates “instant expert personal property appraisers” in direct completion with dedicated personal property appraisers who have completed intensive education, are experienced, and are truly qualified appraisers. Realtors are required to take intensive realty courses before being qualified. People often take this USPAP course and inflate its educational substance. Do not be misled.

    In Summery, you the public need to know USPAP is not written for personal property appraisers, is simply a short course required of realty appraisers for specific federally related transaction report writing standards. Personal property appraising is only mentioned as a side line in 2 paragraphs. Does this 15 hour course give you the confidence you want/need in an experienced, qualified appraiser? This is important as it is being promulgated to the public as for all appraisers and does not apply currently to the personal property profession. Know the value of the qualifications of the appraiser you are hiring.

    Appraisal Course Associates is one of the current sites offering USPAP 15 hour Training as relevant to personal property.

    Graduate Personal Property Appraisers is again a USPAP course targeting personal property appraisers. There are numerous others. I want you to know the facts and not be misled as to what USPAP is and that it is written to the needs of real estate, not the much more varied needs as pertain to personal property.

    Qualified Appraisals for Insurance Retail Replacement

    Why Hire An Appraiser Before a Loss?

    A catastrophe happens, a burglary, a fire, do you know even what one drawer or one closet contains? You will be expected under your umbrella replacement policy to catalog your loss. It is better to prepare before a loss, much less stressful, and may be very much less expensive.

    Advantages and Options:

    • Hire an experienced appraiser/appraiser team to photograph or video tape your appreciable contents…things that have value and possibly may go up further in value. The appraiser is experienced in what to catalogue, what to ignore. The appraiser is experienced in taking the right documentary photos/video to correctly identify and value the piece at a later date. The appraiser can advise you on how to photo and document the rest of the contents or can do it for you. Quick and much less expensive than a full appraisal report.
    • Hire an experience appraiser as a value consultant to do a walk through and provide estimated values on the items you think are important and to point out others you may have missed. This value consultant option is equally as good for proposed resale, estate sale and other value purposes.
    • Hire an experienced qualified appraiser to document, value, and provide a full insurance replacement value on items your insurance company wants you to,or you choose to cover under a value contract/fine arts contract. Your umbrella policy has limits on many appreciable items that you need to be aware of. Fine art/value contracts cover these deficiencies.
    • Hire an experienced qualified appraiser prior to a loss to avoid months, even years of wrangling, possible litigious interaction after a loss. Just as an experiment, without looking, try to write down what is in one dresser, one closet, even one drawer…then check and see how much was overlooked. You will be shocked.

    When you have a loss, everything needs to be noted, not just the appreciable contents but also your everyday items, your medicines, your pantry, your freezer your clothing, etc. Taking care of the appreciable ( your antiques, jewelry, art, firearms, rugs, collectibles) is an important step in preventive medicine in case of a tragic loss due to fire or theft.

    Qualified Appraisals for Insurance Retail Replacement

    Why Hire An Appraiser After a Loss?

    You are traumatized, you can not think, you are in the middle of a catastrophe of loss. Hopefully you had a prior appraisal that you can turn to and you took lots of photos of the other contents before the loss. If you did not, you are in a mess that is about to get worse.
    Your best new friend or old (if you had a prior appraisal done) can be your qualified appraiser.

    Call your insurance agent, then as soon as possible before anything is moved or changed, especially in a fire/flood type situation, call in an expert qualified appraiser. In the meantime, take photos, lots of them, yourself. Do not count on the insurance company to get it all down. Do not let anyone, including the insurance company have anything moved out and taken away until it is documented by both you and hopefully, your appraiser. Your appraiser will know to take photos of details you do not think of. Take the time to take a breath and do it right. You will not regret it.

    If you have contents video or photos available prior to the loss, gather them together to give copies to your insurance and to your appraiser. Keep a pen and tablet by your bed to write down anything you can remember concerning what was lost, in as much detail as possible.

    Insurance inventory lists are mind numbingly discouraging and difficult, your appraiser can help with that as well as the values. A good appraiser can reconstruct from minimal evidence and help you remember details you would not think of yourself about each piece. A good appraiser will get in there and dig for details or evidence of the loss if needed. If it is a theft, a qualified appraiser will know how to visit with you to get details of items you know you had in order to as accurately as possible value the loss. Talk to family and friends about what they remember, have them write down notes and provide any photos that can help.

    Be unfailing honest with your insurance company but do not be intimidated. Do not be rushed, take one step at a time. Make sure you are clear on every step before preceding. Most agents and adjusters just want to get it right for you, but are required to check for irregularities, fault, and possible ill intent. They have insured you for the loss, to make you whole, but as a business do not want to provide more than that. Try not to take any interrogation style questions personally. Easier said then done! Document with date and specific notes or record each meeting with your agent/adjuster or people they send. Let them know as a courtesy that you are recording if you choose to do that.

    Your value consultant or appraiser can be there to help you, make use of them, keep writing down everything you can remember when you remember it. They will most likely pay their fee many times over in the assistance, peace of mind, and recovered value that they provide for you.

    © Copyright Randeen Cummings Nelson AiSCV-AVS 2013 Cummings & Associates AValueQuest