Latest Publications

Appraisers Recommend Caution When Selling Gold Jewelry for Cash

Released: February 12, 2009

RESTON, Va. — The price of gold is once again selling at near all-time high prices. That combined with tough economic times has many people anxious to take advantage of high prices by selling their gold for scrap. The American Society of Appraisers cautions consumers to learn the ropes before jumping into a gold marketplace that may not offer the best deal.

With gold parties springing up in people’s homes and in hotel ballrooms across the country, and mail-in gold businesses multiplying, it is important for consumers to become educated about the gold market before selling their gold.

“If consumers don’t know what they have and approximately what it is worth,” said Margaret Olsen, Accredited Senior Appraiser of the American Society of Appraisers, “they have absolutely no idea if they are getting a fair value for their gold.”

The American Society of Appraisers offers tips to consumers.

Start by looking for a stamp on the back of the jewelry which lists the karats. 24 karat gold is .999 pure, 18 karat gold is .750 pure, 14 karat gold is .583 pure and 10 karat gold is .417 pure. It is important to note that not all gold jewelry contains the exact purity that is on the stamp. Gold from other countries may be less pure than stamped and older 14 karat jewelry, like that produced in the 1970’s and earlier, may have a purity of 13.5 karats.
Next find out the current prices of gold by looking at Web sites like Kitco.com. The price is quoted per troy ounce. A troy ounce is 31.1 grams. To get the price per gram, divide the daily price of gold by 31.1 grams and you will get the price for a gram of 24 karat gold. Most items are not pure gold so if you have 18, 14, or 10 karat gold it will be worth less.
Ask the jeweler what percentage they take from the sale and what percentage the metal refinery takes and then you will have an idea of what you should be paid.
“It really is a bit complicated for the average person to know exactly what they have to begin with and to do the math to figure out what they should be paid,” said Olsen. “That is why it is really important to deal with a reputable local jeweler with ties to the community.”

Also, take time to assess whether selling gold jewelry for scrap is the best option. Broken or mismatched jewelry are the best candidates to be melted down. However, many pieces have more value when sold whole to an estate jeweler or buyer. Pieces from well known designers, well crafted antique pieces, or pieces with gem stones should be valued because melting them down may not be the best option.

For consumers who want to have a piece of jewelry appraised, they should choose an appraiser who is an accredited member of a nationally recognized appraisal organization, such as the American Society of Appraisers, as well as a Graduate Gemologist of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (FGA). For gold coins and bars, ask an accredited gold appraiser or numismatist. Also, ask about an appraiser’s credentials and make sure they are still active.

To find an appraiser or to learn more about appraisals, consumers can log on to www.appraisers.org.

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Appraisal Organizations Oppose Proposed Banking Agencies’ “Appraisal and Evaluation Guidelines”; Urge That They Be Withdrawn and Greatly Strengthened

Released: January 23, 2009

HERNDON, Va.—The American Society of Appraisers (ASA), the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA) and the National Association of Independent Fee Appraisers (NAIFA) have filed written comments with the federal bank regulatory agencies which “strongly object” to the proposed federal Interagency Appraisal and Evaluation Guidelines. The three professional appraisal organizations told the agencies that their proposed collateral valuation requirements “actually weaken, rather than strengthen, the safety and soundness of real estate loans made by regulated institutions”; and, they urged that the proposal be withdrawn so it can be greatly strengthened.

The proposed guidelines establish when a professional appraisal is required in connection with mortgage and other loans collateralized by real estate (Title XI of the federal Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) of 1989 established the basic requirement for the use of professional appraisers in certain federally-related transactions). ASA, ASFMRA and NAIFA were specifically critical of the fact that the Guidelines exempt a dozen categories of real estate lending transactions from the Title XI requirements; and, permit the use of “untested and unreliable alternatives to appraisals (i.e., automated valuation models; broker price opinions; and, property tax assessment valuations) to substitute for the opinions of individuals who have been Certified and Licensed as appraisal professionals by the 50 states and territories.

“We believe the approach to valuation issues reflected in the Guidelines is fundamentally flawed; and is inconsistent with the bank regulatory safety and soundness reforms promised by the incoming [Obama] Administration,” the joint letter states. The three professional appraisal organizations also commented that while they would oppose the Guidelines even during “normal” times, the banking agencies’ preoccupation with exempting lenders from professional valuation requirements was “particularly troubling” coming at a time when there is enormous stress on the banking system and mortgage markets, when the real estate markets are in an extreme state of flux and when the government’s loan modification programs for troubled mortgages, are so dependent on accurate valuations of collateral properties.

The three organizations concluded by stating that because of the “many exceptions to and exemptions from reliance on professional appraisals,” the Guidelines are a regulatory “step backwards” that causes us to oppose them

The comments were delivered to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Office of Thrift Supervision and the National Credit Union Administration.

To view the complete contents of the Jan. 20, 2009, comment letter, click here.
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Avoid IRS Scrutiny with Proper Year-End Tax Deduction Planning

Released: November 26, 2008

HERNDON, Va. — Historical indications tell us, says the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, that despite the dismal economy this holiday season, a majority of people will still make charitable contributions. Charity Navigator notes that 50 percent of all charitable giving is done between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.

“This year in particular is a great time to donate art before the prices fall further,” said Elin Lake-Ewald, an Accredited Senior Appraiser with the American Society of Appraisers. “Auction prices are just beginning to fall and it looks they will continue to sink in the coming year, so to maximize the tax deduction, it is a good idea to think about donating art now instead of waiting another year or two.”

In the last few years, the IRS has greatly increased their scrutiny of charitable donations so taxpayers need to review the regulations, document donations properly, and get donations appraised by a “qualified appraiser” when required by the tax code.

The IRS is now requiring that a “qualified appraiser” prepare a “qualified appraisal” for individual household items donated to charity which are worth more than $500. This is true also for other donated items such as art and antiques that have a fair market value of more than $5,000. The difference this year, notes the American Society of Appraisers, is that provisions of the Pension Protect Act, which was signed into law in August 2006, require that these appraisals be done by a “qualified appraiser.”

“The best way to find a ‘qualified appraiser’ is to use an appraiser who is accredited by a ‘recognized professional appraisal organization’ that complies with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP),” said Susan Golashovsky, a Senior Accredited Appraiser member of the American Society of Appraisers.

Taxpayers should also make sure they are submitting an appraisal that was prepared using the correct valuation method for charitable contributions. All appraisals done for the Internal Revenue Service conclude the fair market value of the item or items. The fair market value is the amount that the item would sell for on the open market at the time of donation. Fair market value takes into account the condition of the piece or pieces, the value of sales of similar properties at the time, and the market for those types of items.

For more information, or to find an accredited appraiser near you or to learn more about appraisals, log on to www.appraisers.org or call (800) ASA-VALU.

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Appraisers Offer Advice To People Looking To Cash in Their Antiques and Collectibles

Released: October 8, 2008

“I have recently had a number of calls from people who are thinking about selling valuables, but don’t know what their items are worth or how to go about selling them,” said Susan M. Golashovsky, accredited senior appraiser of the American Society of Appraisers. “There are a wide range of places to sell things, depending on what they are and their value, so it is important to understand what the options are,” she continued.

Some outlets for selling collectibles and antiques include:

High end regional and national auction houses; this is for very valuable collectible items, antiques, or art work. These auction houses charge a percentage of the sale price as well as fees for insurance, catalogue photographs, etc.

Antiques dealers. Antiques dealers will either buy the piece from you outright and re-sell it, or they will sell it for you and take a percentage of the sale price. When selling to an antiques dealer, it is a good idea to have an appraisal by an independent appraiser of the item, or have a good idea of its value so you ensure that you are being properly compensated. Be sure to get a consignment agreement that protects your ownership and sets up the date by which you must be paid after the sale.
Local catalogue auctions. Local auction houses will include your item in scheduled auctions that feature similar types of property grouped together for sale. These items are offered in a catalogue which is often posted online. The auction house will charge a percentage of the sale price and for additional costs such as insurance and photography.
Local weekly auctions. Local auction houses also hold regular catch-all auctions that sell a variety of items which are normally less valuable than items included in the catalogue auctions.
Consignment shop. Consignment shops will sell your items for you, but usually for a relatively high percentage of the sale price, and if things don’t sell quickly they normally lower the price of the item to help it sell. Be sure to get a consignment agreement that protects your ownership and sets up the date by which you must be paid after the sale.
Do-it-yourself options for selling items include on-line sites like eBay and Craig’s List, and at yard sales and flea market stands.

For people who have a greater number of items that they think might be valuable but aren’t sure, one way to get an idea of where to sell them is to hire an appraiser to act as a consultant. Many appraisers will do a walk-through of a client’s home, and for a consulting fee will offer suggestions as to the best types of places to sell items. This is different than getting an appraisal of the items. An appraisal will assign a value to an item and will give a description and background about the piece. An appraisal cannot be done on the spot.

“I do what I call a home triage,” says Mark Grove, an accredited senior appraiser of the American Society of Appraisers. “I might spend an hour or two walking though a client’s home, and while they take notes I advise them—this should go to a yard sale, or this can go to a catalogue auction.” He continues, “Although I am not doing an appraisal, or providing them a value for each item, they find it helpful to know which items might be valuable and merit an appraisal, and which items could be sold at what type of venue.”

When hiring an appraiser, hire only accredited appraisers from an established national organization like the American Society of Appraisers. Don’t use an appraiser who offers to buy the items or charges you a fee based on a percentage of the item’s value. That is a conflict of interest.

To find an appraiser or to learn more about appraisals, consumers can log on to www.appraisers.org.

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Tips for Hiring and Working with an Appraiser

Know When To Get Something Appraised

Make sure you have valuable items appraised for insurance purposes. You may want to add a rider to your homeowner’s insurance to cover them.

Are you donating an item to charity? If its value is more than $5,000, you will need an appraisal to prove its value for the IRS.
Hire a Qualified Appraiser

Hire an accredited appraiser to ensure that you are receiving an ethical and accurate appraisal. To find an appraiser near you, log on to www.appraisers.org or call (800) ASA-VALU.

Hire an appraiser who works in the specialty you need. The American Society of Appraisers certifies appraisers in six disciplines: gems and jewelry, business valuation, personal property, machinery and technical specialties, real property, and appraisal review and management.

Ask for a résumé and references from a potential appraiser.
Don’t use an appraiser who offers to buy the item or charges a percentage of the item’s value.

Tips for Working With an Appraiser

Bring the item, not a picture, to the appraiser to examine.
Tell the appraiser anything you know about the item’s origin or where it was purchased.

The appraiser will take a few days to research the item’s history and the marketplace.

You should receive a written report describing the item itself, the reasons for its valuation, and which type of value was done: replacement value, fair market value, or market value.

Tips To Manage Your Valuables

Preserve items by not hanging them in direct sunlight; works on paper should be protected with UV glass or Plexiglas, and textiles should be kept in dry, insect-free areas.

It is best to keep things in their original state. Know that painting, varnishing, or altering an item may lower its value.

It is advisable to get an item re-appraised every three to five years. However, for items in highly volatile markets, it is best to get them re-appraised annually. In that case, your appraiser can check the market situation for you and revalue the items for a nominal fee.
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Top Reasons Every Company Should Have a Business Valuation

1. Know what your company is worth. Many business owners have no idea what their business is worth; and if they think they know, they are probably wrong. Sentiment often gets in the way of good judgment. For a fair and independent opinion, CEOs and owners should obtain a professional business valuation.

2. Understand where your company fits in the landscape. A business valuation will research and provide an explanation of your specific industry and will place your company in the competitive landscape of your specialized market. It will also tell you the market price of publicly traded companies that are engaged in your line of business.

3. Learn the financial condition of your company. Business owners may think they understand the financial health of their company, however having an independent review and analysis including intangible assets can confirm or deny the theories.

4. Make fast decisions on buying, selling, and mergers. If you are faced with the option to buy, sell, or attract capital for your business, you may not have time to wait to have a business valuation completed. Having a current valuation will enable you to strike while the iron is hot.

5. Stay current. The market is in constant flux. It is important to get regular business valuations because your company, your industry and the economy are continually changing. A business valuation report, completed by an accredited valuation expert who is a member of a professional society working in compliance with established professional standards, may be appropriate for use in courts, for financing and for tax challenges as needed.

To find a business valuation expert near you, log on to http://www.appraisers.org/findappraiser/.

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Tips for Enhancing the Value of Your Car

The American Society of Appraisers highlights the top 10 steps consumers can take to help ensure the value of their car.

“Cars are usually the second largest purchase for most people, right after their house,” said Dave Kinney, accredited senior appraiser with the American Society of Appraisers (ASA). “It makes sense to take care of your automobile, not only for sustaining its worth, but for safety purposes as well.” The American Society of Appraisers and expert automobile appraiser Dave Kinney offer the following tips for consumers to enhance the value of their car.

1. Keep it clean. Outside of car wash operators, no one likes dirty cars. By keeping your car clean, not only will you feel better about the car, but you will likely reap the rewards at trade in time or when you sell it. Have your car professionally detailed before you attempt to sell it.

2. Maintain your car according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Find the specifications in the owner’s guide (that book in your glove box you have ignored since the day you bought it). The quickie oil change shop might try to beat the “change your oil every three thousand miles” mantra into your head, but most manufacturers don’t require oil changes until 7,500 miles or more. Don’t spend money where it’s not needed, and you can help the environment, as well.

3. Go synthetic. When you do get that oil change, consider one of the well-known synthetic oils on the market. They are more expensive, but they also have a longer service life. Synthetic oil is made from – well, regular oil, but it is made so that all the molecules are the same size, increasing flow and decreasing wear. Your engine could last longer and operate at cooler temperatures.

4. Fix what breaks. Today’s cars are much more complicated than cars from 10 years ago. A little problem can become a big problem, if ignored. Turning up the radio to avoid hearing a noise is not a good plan.

5. Fix those paint chips. Little paint chips have a way of growing into big paint chips; fix them before they grow. Your local auto parts store will likely have a paint touch-up display offering a variety of popular (and some unpopular) colors that match your paint. If they don’t, your dealer will.

6. Wax on, wax off. Find a high quality paste wax and spend the afternoon getting to know the nooks and crannies of you car. It’s not bad exercise, and you get to work on your tan at the same time. Wax your car once a year at a minimum and repeat often.

7. Get an annual physical. It’s good advice for both you and your car. Most states require an annual inspection for all vehicles. Any dealer would be happy to do a 25,000 mile or more point check-up. This is the time to look at tires, belts, hoses, brakes and every other system subject to wear.

8. Park and walk. Don’t grab the first space closest to the door of the mall. Instead, park in a less used area and walk the short distance. What’s the benefit? You get a little more exercise, and your car avoids the chance for a few dings and being a target for the “park-by-touch” crowd.

9. Don’t be cheap. Use parts that are approved by the manufacturer or come from a source you trust. Aftermarket parts can be as good, or better than original equipment, but unless you get them from a trusted source, be wary. Develop a relationship with the shop that repairs your car. Don’t cut corners on the safety of you or your family’s ride.

10. Keep your records. You can toss your 33 RPM copy of Bobby Goldsboro’s greatest hits (now that you have the CD), but don’t toss the paperwork that a potential buyer wants to see. Instead, keep a simple file of all of your bills, receipts, recall notices, e-mails and letters about your vehicle. Future sleuths will thank you.

To find an appraiser near you or to learn more about appraisals and caring for your valuables, log on to http://www.appraisers.org/consumer.

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Estate Planning Tips for Personal Property

1. Collect and assemble as much background information as possible on each piece of property, including sales receipts, details of how you acquired each piece and the provenance or history of the piece.

2. Make sure you include an appraisal consultation with an accredited appraiser like those belonging to the American Society of Appraisers in your estate planning process.

3. Question whether the appraiser will provide a report that gives a fair market value of your collection that complies with the latest Internal Revenue Service requirements. (Replacement value for insurance is not appropriate for estate planning purposes and can yield a considerably different value.) Hiring an accredited appraiser will ensure that you get the correct value for your properties.

4. Review your property with the appraiser. Together you can decide what property should be included in the appraisal report.

5. Keep your appraisal report with your other legal, estate planning documents. Appraisal reports are recognized by courts as reliable testimony to the worth of your possessions. They combine in one place the documentation, identification (including photographs) and fair market value of your possessions that can be invaluable to you and your heirs.

6. A rule of thumb is to have your appraisal updated about every five years. An appraisal is an unbiased opinion of value at the time the report is done. Because market conditions change, an accredited appraiser cannot determine what your possessions might be worth at some point in the future or at the time of your death. An appraisal update, which usually costs less than the original report, will verify the condition of your collection and keep values current.

7. Monitor market conditions that might affect the value of your collection. A sudden surge in popularity of a particular period (e.g., Victoriana) or the death of the artist who painted items in your collection could cause certain values to increase rapidly and might merit appraisal updates at more frequent intervals.

8. Discuss with the appraiser appropriate care of your collection to maintain maximum value. Accredited appraisers are personal property experts who can provide you with advice on ways to protect your collections.

9. Hire only accredited appraisers like those from the American Society of Appraisers who abide by a code of ethics and the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).

10. Make sure you deal only with an appraiser who charges an hourly rate or a flat fee. Reputable professional appraisers will not offer to sell your items for you or base fees on a percentage of an item’s worth.

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Tips for Buying and Appraising Jewelry

Before the purchase

Research—If you have an idea of the type of jewelry you are looking for, you will find an enormous amount of information available on the internet or at the local library, regarding quality, origin and style. Research the retail outlet as well; it’s reputation, and policies on returns, servicing, etc.
Comparison Shopping—Most salespeople in fine jewelry stores are well trained about the jewelry they sell and how to present it in its best light. To avoid buyer’s remorse, it is best to shop around and compare, but remember to compare apples with apples. There are many elements of quality that affect the price.
Making a purchase

Inspect the item carefully—Jewelry is an emotionally motivated purchase and it is easy to see the piece through rose-colored glasses. Look for markings stamped on the metal that are appropriate to the item, and for unique characteristics in the gemstone or diamond. Be sure to ask the salesperson to verify that what you are seeing is natural and not damage sustained in the manufacturing process.
Understand the item’s origins—In our technologically advancing society, it is ever more important to ask questions about the origin of the gemstones and the level of treatment they have received. For example, are the beautiful pearls you are considering natural, cultured saltwater, Chinese freshwater or South Sea? Have they been irradiated or dyed? Has the diamond been fracture filled or in any way enhanced? Is the process permanent? Does it require special care?
Know the Return Policy—Get it in writing on the sales receipt along with a complete description of the newly purchased jewelry item, including the answers to questions pertaining to origin and treatment, quality, size, etc.
Get a Diamond or Gemstone “Certification”—Many significant diamonds and gemstones are accompanied by independent laboratory reports, often referred to as “certificates.” Gemstone and diamond identification, grading and origin verification require scientific processes, and involve subjective conclusions. Therefore, an independent laboratory report, prepared by an industry respected laboratory, i.e. GIA, EGL, AGS, performed while the diamond or gemstone is out of its mounting, is imperative on any major purchase. These reports consist of quality analysis only and do not (or should not) include value information. A laboratory report is not the same as an appraisal. You should receive the original laboratory report (certificate) with your item, or very shortly thereafter.
After the Purchase

Many people get jewelry appraised to document and verify the quality and value of the piece. Appraisals are used for insurance purposes, for estate planning, dispute resolution, etc. Be sure to tell the appraiser what the appraisal will be used for as the intended purpose dictates the type of value used in the appraisal.

Choose an independent and well qualified appraiser—A qualified appraiser is an accredited member of a nationally recognized appraisal organization such as the American Society of Appraisers, as well as a Graduate Gemologist of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or a Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain. These organizations require re-certification and continuing education to maintain accreditation. It is important to review the appraiser’s credentials to ensure that they are still active.
Get jewelry appraised quickly—Getting jewelry appraised while the item can still be returned under the store’s return policy is a great way to insure that the piece is as it was represented. Many reputable jewelers will allow potential buyers to have the jewelry item appraised by a qualified appraiser as a condition of the sale.
Provide pertinent information —By providing the appraiser with all known information about the jewelry you wish to have appraised, including special documentation and certificates, laboratory reports, and receipts, you will be sure to receive a complete and accurate appraisal report.
Jewelry Disputes

If there is a problem with a jewelry purchase, there are a few options. First, try to resolve the issue with the jewelry store. In most cases, a reasonable settlement can be reached by negotiation. If that doesn’t work, contact the local Better Business Bureau. Consumers can also try the Jewelers Vigilance Committee Alternative Dispute Resolution Service which was set up to assist consumers in settling disputes with members of the jewelry industry.
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Tips for Selling Gold

When the price of gold goes up, gold fever often ensues and people jump to sell their gold jewelry or coins. However they may not always be getting the best deal. The American Society of Appraisers offers advice to consumers who want to know how and when to sell their gold jewelry.

The first step is to look for an appraiser or dealer who advertises that they buy gold.
Then make sure they are licensed. States have licensing boards that regulate the industry.
Shop around. Go to a few places and let them assess your gold; then ask them how much they’ll pay per gram. Twenty-four carat gold is worth the most and the price goes down from there as the carats do.
Make sure that selling the gold by weight is the best option for the items you have. The safest bet is to sell gold jewelry that is broken or is an unmatched set. Then you can be sure that the pieces don’t have much value as jewelry. Be careful about selling antique pieces, pieces with gems embedded or pieces from a well-known designer. If you have a piece of Tiffany jewelry, for instance, it is probably worth more as is than it would be if it were melted down. Also, if you have pieces with gems or antique pieces and you are unsure of the value, it is best to go to an independent appraiser skilled in period jewelry and have them look it over first and advise you.
People who have gold coins should also be wary of selling them by the gram. They may be worth more when sold as is to a collector.
Beware of cold-call solicitations when you are considering selling your gold, and of mobile offices set up in temporary locations. Make sure you are dealing with a reputable outfit.
“It is easy to check the current retail value of gold at www.kitco.com,” said Martin Fuller, an Accredited Senior Appraiser and Master Gemologist AppraiserÒ based in McLean, Va. “But it is also important to know that no one will pay the current top dollar for gold, because that would leave no room for profitable resale,” Fuller added. “Expect to receive a percentage less than the current top price.”

Choose an accredited appraiser with professional credentials. If you are looking for a jewelry appraiser, choose an appraiser who is an accredited member of a nationally recognized appraisal organization, such as the American Society of Appraisers, as well as a Graduate Gemologist of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (FGA). Ask about an appraiser’s credentials and make sure they are still active. The appraisal should be done for a set fee, not for a percentage of the value of the property—that’s unethical.

To learn more about caring for valuables or to find an appraiser near you, log on to www.appraisers.org/consumers.
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