de Andino Fine Arts

American Society of Appraisers

What is an appraisal?

Appraisers Association of America

An appraisal is an impersonal research and opinion document that in no way reflects advocacy or the wants and desires of any individual party or entity.

Auction house personnel and art dealers have extensive experience with prices and should therefore be able to judge values. It has been argued, however, that it is almost impossible for them to divorce themselves from an interest in supporting values within a market on which they depend for their income. What is needed are totally disinterested valuation experts.

Fortunately, the profession of personal property appraising has grown and developed at an impressive rate over the past ten years. These are the tested and certified appraisers who belong to and contribute to a professional society that offers educational and testing programs as well as a procedure for handling ethics complaints. They are educated in the theory, history, and the law of art valuation. There are numerous reasons they should be involved in any valuation process for collections, institutions, and public entities.

Probably the most obvious reason to retain a tested and certified professional appraiser is to be sure the values are reliable. Certainly in our increasingly litigious society, decisions based on incorrect or unsubstantiated opinions can lead to lawsuits. The last decade of value-related litigation and prosecution has seen the emergence of the concept of Due Diligence. One case after another has been decided on the basis of the ability of one side or another to demonstrate they pursued due diligence in establishing the authenticity, clear title, and especially value of a property. If the opinion of a tested and certified appraiser has been relied upon, then the liability will fall partially or wholly on the appraiser’s shoulders.

No, there are not national or state licensing laws that apply to personal property appraisers. Real estate appraisers are subject to testing and licensing, but the concept is just beginning to extend to personal property appraisers—even though they may handle assignments of property valued at more than most land and buildings.

Yes, there are national standards. They are embodied in The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice of the Appraisal Foundation in Washington, D.C. USPAP, as it is known in the profession, is unfortunately presently required for certification in only one of the three major personal property appraisal associations—the American Society of Appraisers (ASA).

No, appraisers are seldom held accountable for their inadequacies or mistakes for several reasons. The first is that their clients are seldom in a position to know whether the appraiser has done a good job or not. The second is that frequently the only way to know the reliability of an appraisal is to test it through offering the appraised property for sale or submitting an Appraisal Report to the IRS. This later option probably won’t result in a “red flag” unless the valuation is way out of line—high for a donation or low for an estate.

Truly professional societies have a grievance procedure through which a consumer can file a complaint with the assurance it will be fully investigated and appropriate actions taken if the appraiser is found to be in violation of the society’s rules. Appraisers who are not certified by one of the three major societies (ASA, AAA, and ISA) can be disciplined only through a lawsuit.

Yes, a Federal Appeals Court has set some guidelines, but the published decision has not become widely known within or without the profession. In the October, 1993 decision in Murphy v. Commissioner, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stated that the subject appraiser was a Senior Member of the American Society of Appraisers and, since that was the highest and best certification available, met all the requirements of the law.

So what is the best way to care for and safeguard the value of your fine art? Give us a call. We meet and exceed all the requirements of professional appraisal practice, and this provides our clients a guarantee that their assignment will be completed to the highest standards.

2450 Virginia Ave NW
Washington, DC - 20037
p. 202.861.0638