7 - Essential Appraisal Tips
1. DO NO HARM
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 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.
2. IF THEY WANT 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 an appraiser offers to buy your item, they've crossed a line into unethical behavior. You simply cannot trust someone acting unethically to offer you a fair price, or provide you with a good appraisal, or advice.
If you find yourself pressured to sell by an appraiser. Your easiest way out, may be to tell them you need to talk with your wife, husband brother, or sister first. Then, you'll get back to them if you're interested.
4. GET THE RIGHT APPRAISAL
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 furthert information on insurance valuations.
5. IF THEY WON'T APPRAISE IT... GO LOCAL
If your item doesn't meet their requirements, try contacting a reputable local auction house for a free auction appraisal.
6. PRE-SCREEN YOUR ITEMS
Before you send your items to an auction house research sold prices online, first. Often, this will give you a general understanding of your item's potential value, and could help you determine whether it's a common or rare item.
The more research the better. It's always a good idea to check sold prices across multiple auctioneer websites. Beacuse you can compare venues to see if an item is selling better on-line or off-line. You'll also find out if a particular auctioneer is getting higher sales prices, compared to others.
Auction appraisers are very busy people. Unless you've spoken with them first, and made prior arrangements. Sending lengthy emails filled with large numbers of items and photos, without prescreening. May be a good way to get your emails ignored.
7. SHOP AROUND
Getting estimates from several auctioneers allows you to compare their estimates and selling fees if you decide to sell. Antiques Roadshow, also has a guide for doing business with appraisers that is worth reading.