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5 Tips for a Faster Appraisal of Fine Art, Antiques, and Collectibles: An Interview with Charles C. McCracken, Personal Property Appraiser

By Charles C. McCracken

Tell us a little bit about your experience, company history and the services you offer.

A QUALIFIED APPRAISER IS FORMALLY TRAINED AND MUST HAVE SPECIFIC CREDENTIALS. BUT AN EFFECTIVE APPRAISER IS ALSO IN TOUCH WITH THE REAL WORLD OF MARKETS, COLLECTOR PREFERENCES AND THE SOCIETAL TRENDS THAT CAUSE VALUES TO APPRECIATE AND DEPRECIATE.

Credentials for appraisers combine formal training and grass roots experience. Required terms, formats and procedures must be used if an appraisal is to be a legal document that will withstand the scrutiny of the insurance industry, tax agencies, shipping firms and the judicial system. An appraiser must have years of experience as a collector or curator to be comfortable with the scholarship needed to properly identify items and write at a professional level. Finally, an appraiser must have real-life experience as a dealer to understand the markets that are steering the values of items being valued. Through my training I have achieved the advanced level of Certified Appraiser of Personal Property (CAPP). I am a member of the International Society of Appraisers (ISA). My Doctorate in Education (D. Ed) is from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. My wife and I have more than forty years experience as dealers, gallery owners, collectors and appraisers. We are fully qualified to prepare expert personal property appraisals.

What is the typical amount of time that it takes to have a home appraisal done?

A SMALL APPRAISAL CAN BE COMPLETED IN A FEW DAYS. BUT THERE ARE LARGE VALUATION ASSIGNMENTS THAT CAN TAKE MONTHS TO COMPLETE. THE VERY LARGEST APPRAISALS ARE BEST DIVIDED INTO SMALLER, MANAGEABLE APPRAISAL PROJECTS.

Some appraisals only consider several items; perhaps three of four paintings, a few pieces of antique furniture and some vintage collectibles. These appraisals can be completed with a few hours of on-site time and perhaps a week or two for research and report writing. But the appraisal world if full of surprises and we have tackled appraisal projects that consider hundreds of items and took months to complete. Often, large valuation assignments are divided into smaller, more manageable appraisal projects. An experienced appraiser can work with a client to insure deadlines are met, personal schedules are met, and appraisals are delivered on time and in budget.

What are some of the biggest factors in determining how fast a homeowner will get a copy of the report?

PLANNING IS EVERYTHING. A GOOD PLAN MEANS SMOOTH SAILING. AN APPRAISAL SHOULD BE A REWARDING, INTERESTING AND ENJOYABLE PROCESS. BUT APPRAISING IS LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE. LACK OF PLANNING LEADS TO CONFUSION, WASTED TIME, UNNECESSARY EXPENSE AND FRUSTRATION ON THE PART OF ALL PARTIES INVOLVED.

Good planning means smooth sailing. Lack of planning usually is the reason why appraisals are delayed. An experienced appraiser can work with the client to map out a series of tasks needed to execute an appraisal project properly. At times, clients request a turn-key appraisal as they have little time to be involved in the process. But other clients prefer to be involved in the process. For example, a client can help prepare the job site. They could lay out a service of flat ware or China and count the number place settings available. Purchase receipts, gallery catalogs and other information about works of art can be gathered. Previous appraisals can be shared. Easy access to closets, attics, and storage areas can be arranged.

Can you give some common examples of unique property features you've seen in houses in your area?

Appraisers usually serve their local areas as generalists. Appraisers and their network of resources need to be ready to respond to a wide variety of items and client situations. Appraisers also travel nationally when their services as a specialist are needed. My wife and I have worked in the Michigan area as specialists valuing large collections of paintings, rare books and collectibles. One very interesting collection of fine art was assembled many decades ago when some of the region's best artists were in great part undiscovered. With the emergence of the Internet and the general passing of time, some of these artists became national figures in the art world. The value of their work had appreciated dramatically and their works became part of the holdings of major museums.

What are two ways that a homeowner or occupant can help speed up the home appraisal process?

THE CRUX OF THE MATTER - THE CLIENT AND APPRAISER MUST WORK AS A TEAM TO GET THE FOLLOWING ISSUES CLARIFIED. THIS IS WHY A TRAINED APPRAISER IS SO VALUABLE. THE CLIENT DRAWS UPON THE APPRAISER'S EXPERIENCE, NETWORK OF RESOURCES AND GENERAL KNOW HOW WHEN IT COMES TO THE HEAVY-LIFTING OF ANSWERING THE QUESTION "What's it Worth?"

We are firm believers in what we call an Initial Consultation. During this session the plan for an appraisal project is mapped out. A good plan makes all the difference not only in the speed of completion of the appraisal, but the cost and accuracy of the project. During the Initial Consultation it is important to clarify the "intended use"(the reason for the appraisal) the "objective" (value being sought, fair market, insurance replacement, etc.), the "client" (primary user of the appraisal), "intended users" (other persons authorized to use the appraisal), "qualified appraiser" (a fully certified professional), time-table, estimated budget, and the anticipation of any "extraordinary assumptions" or "limiting conditions" (special factors to be mitigated during the appraisal process). With these issues clarified in advance most appraisal projects become an enjoyable and fascinating experience for both the client and the appraiser. With good planning expect smooth sailing.

In most cases, how much contact does a home appraiser have with homeowners after the appraisal is complete?

APPRAISERS ADDRESS IMMEDIATE ISSUES AND NEEDS, BUT REMAIN AT THE CLIENT'S SERVICE FOR YEARS TO COME.

Appraisers keep client appraisals on file for years. These documents are stored as confidential documents. It is common for appraisals to be updated as clients expand or downsize their possessions. Many appraisals are converted from insurance appraisals to estate appraisals. Many say, take inventory, every good business does it. Keep your appraiser's contact information handy. Appraiser's remain at your service not only for short term situation, but for long term goals and needs.

What's the best way for people to reach you and your company?

WE ARE JUST A PHONE CALL AWAY.

Just give us a call. Please feel free to call or text 843 301 2505, or email us at tachh@aol.com You can learn more about us at www.charlesmccracken.com

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