How do appraisals really work?

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This column was prompted by the litany of phone calls, e-mails and questions that I field about appraisals. Most people just ask, “I’ve never done this before so where do I start? How do appraisal services work?” These are some of the questions that I am frequently asked from readers when you need an appraisal of works of art, antiques or collectibles. Some people ask me these questions when they are downsizing, settling Grandma’s estate, or after they have exhausted the Internet searches and just can’t find any information about an item.

All said and done

First, determine the type of appraisal you need. Do you want to make sure you don’t throw away something valuable? Do you just want to know what your item is worth, in the hopes of selling it for millions? Do you just want to be fair to your kids when handing down keepsakes, so both your son and your daughter get pieces of equal value? Get a verbal appraisal from someone who is qualified and who does not want to sell your objects for you. Verbal appraisals tend to cost the least amount of money. They make sense if you only have a few items for review. For an idea of cost, groups or organizations that host my verbal appraisal events tend to charge the public between $10 and $20 per item. At my antique appraisal events, conducted nationwide, the fun and laughter is included free of charge!

For households filled with various diverse objects, in-home appraisal visits are an excellent option. I can appraise the contents of most homes in about an hour, for an hourly fee. In-home appraisals include consultation advice. Yes, your house that is filled to the brim with collected objects can be reviewed in about an hour. Most people think it’s not possible to review everything in a home, but let me tell you, I move quickly and ignore the low-valued stuff and highlight the valuable treasures. This project isn’t about walking down memory lane, it’s about getting valuable information that you can use.

Down to brass tacks

Remember, this verbal appraisal session in your home is not a free appraisal visit to look at your pieces and make you purchase offers or to make money when selling your objects in a consignment situation or through an auction house. This type of verbal appraisal is to inform you of correct identification and value, so you can negotiate wisely with anyone, anytime, anyplace. There are more questions to consider when it comes to appraisals, so in my next column, I’ll discuss the answers to those questions. I’ll explore how to protect your art and antiques investment with insurance coverage and how to donate pieces for a tax deduction.

Ph.D. antiques appraiser and award-winning TV personality and talk show host Dr. Lori presents antique appraisal events nationwide. Join Dr. Lori on her next vacation cruise, focusing on antiques and watch her on the Fine Living Network’s “Worth Every Penny” and locally weekdays at 8 a.m. on Fox 4 TV’s ”Morning Blend.” Visit or call (888) 431-1010.

© 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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