7 - Essential Appraisal Tips

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1. DO NO HARM - DO NOT CLEAN, REFINISH, OR "FIX IT"

Rare items can lose over 90% of their value if improperly cleaned, repaired, or refinished. Never attempt to clean, alter, or repair any item, until you know exactly what it is you have, and how its value will be affected by an alteration or cleaning.

Always get guidance from a reputable expert before doing any cleaning, refinishing, or "fixing."

2. CHECK THEIR REFERENCES

Whether you're looking for an appraiser, restoration expert, gallery or auction house (to consign your item). Always check their reputation before hiring them.

The Better Business Bureau and websites like Yelp and Angies List may help you find-out if there have been complaints against a company.

Also see this Better Business Bureau article for more tips for Selling Through Consignment.

2. IF AN APPRAISER OFFERS TO BUY IT... RUN!

It's a violation of the appraiser’s code of ethics for any appraiser to offer to purchase your item.  If the appraiser offers to buy your item, they've crossed the line into unethical behavior. You simply cannot trust someone acting unethically to offer you a fair price, or provide you with a good appraisal.

Consumer Reports, Huffington Post and CNN have articles offering advice for hiring a good appraisers.

4. NOT ALL APPRAISALS ARE CREATED EQUAL

A free appraisal from an auctioneer is called an auction-valuation. This is the estimated amount your antique is expected to fetch at auction.

While free auction valuations can be a great way to find out if you own a treasure, they're not what you want for insurance purposes, or estate settlements. You'll need to hire an appraiser for those.

Antiques Roadshow has more on insurance valuations

5. IF THEY WON'T APPRAISE IT FREE... GO LOCAL

If you are just looking for a free appraisal from an auctioneer. Keep in mind, the top auction houses have high standards for the types of antiques they appraise and sell. If your antique doesn't meet their requirements, try contacting a reputable local auction house for a free appraisal.

6. SAVE TIME - BY PRE-SCREENING YOUR ITEMS

Researching sold prices online may give you a general sense of your item's value before sending your information and photos to an auction appraiser. It's a time saving method that might be used to screen out less valuable common items.

7. SHOP AROUND

Getting estimates from several auctioneers will allow you to compare their estimates and selling fees if you decide to sell.