Appraisals at home: the best and the worst

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Recently, the popular “Dear Abby” advice column printed a letter from a 52-year-old doctor from California who had participated in an in-home appraisal visit. She and her sister had an appraiser review antiques owned by their 79-year-old mother. The writer commented on the wonderful in-home appraisal experience. She listened as her mother recalled decades of family history through her antiques when prompted by the appraiser’s questions. The “Dear Abby” letter writer noted that the value of her mother’s antiques was not nearly as precious as the appraisal experience with her mother.

Nationwide, I help people evaluate their objects with in-home appraisal visits on a regular basis. In-home appraisals are for people in varied situations. Some folks need to know the value of art, antiques and collectibles for estate or insurance purposes or to equally distribute objects to children and charities.

Decisions and drama

At these visits, I highlight all of the options available, so families can make intelligent decisions about those objects assembled over a lifetime. During the typical hour-long appraisal visit, I have seen family members treat each other with love, kindness and respect as they learn about family heirlooms and make decisions. People take notes, learn how the markets work and ask me all types of questions.

Because objects carry all types of emotions, appraisals bring out the best and the worst in people. I have had my fair share of appraisal visits that could have been great content for the new television program, “Hoarders.” And, I have even been witness to sisters-in-law coming to blows (yes, they actually hit each other!) over their deceased mother-in-law’s ceramic cow creamer. I urge folks to remember that your family relationships are more valuable than great grandma’s Tiffany lamp or grandpa’s bamboo fishing rod. I often joke that during some in-home appraisal visits, I feel more like Dr. Phil than Dr. Lori.

Just Mom’s junk

Some people use the appraisal visit to educate their children about the value of those objects that their kids have discounted as, “just Mom’s junk,” all these years. Most Moms want to be fair to their kids. They don’t want their son to get a $50,000 painting when their daughter is only going to get a $50 table. This happens when Mom just doesn’t know that the current value of either object. I encourage people to invite their children and other loved ones to the in-home appraisal visit, because it is a wonderful opportunity for families to frankly discuss those sensitive issues that people often avoid.

It takes time to digest all of the information provided. I advise people to take their time and discuss with loved ones what is best for them. Most people want to know all their options before making a decision about their valuable heirlooms. Wouldn’t you?

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.

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