Auto Appraiser? Why you need one? Well, Insurance, legal issues, and peace-of-mind are the leading reasons for needing one. A thoroughly documented appraisal is a valuable asset for any collector. Books have been written on types and methods of appraisals, but how can you tell if the appraisal you get has the information you really need?
Getting a worthy appraisal starts with picking the right appraiser. According to Daniel Jendrowski, an Accredited Senior Appraiser with the Bureau Of Certified Auto Appraisers (BOCAA), “Appraiser qualification, experience, and knowledge beyond the particular make or brand of car is of utmost importance.” Looking for an appraiser with a professional designation is one way to assure quality. There are professional designations for personal property appraisal but few with an emphasis on collector car appraisals. Those designations conferred by the BOCAA, the Bureau Of Certified Auto Appraisers or an institute of higher learning, such as the few colleges and universities that offer degrees in the auto appraisal, carry the most weight. But university-trained appraisers and the extremely high standards of the BOCAA make that accredited auto appraiser for cars appraisals a rare commodity.
The likelihood of finding an accredited appraiser conveniently located to you is slim. In the absence of real credentials, ask your appraiser how many appraisals they do per year and how many they’ve done over the years. Ask to see a sample report and a résumé of his/her background on the subject. Make sure your appraiser knows the procedures and processes of appraisal and can demonstrate an ability to explain their methods. Remember, the appraiser may have no choice but to back-up his/her report in court, and you don’t want to be caught using one who can’t or won’t professionally explain his/her actions when the report is being questioned.
Also, make sure to ask for the features they offer. Is the appraisal updateable? Does the appraiser compare market value with receipts? Does the appraisal reflect a geographic value, i.e., ragtop exotics in New York State?
If you’re being given a one-page report with little more than a fellow collector telling you that he believes your car is worth “X,” this is not an appraisal. You need to be aware of the difference between one person’s opinion (regardless of qualifications) and his/her ability to access data from other appraisers. As well, an appraisal from your mechanic or the restorer/builder is useless.
The BOCAA has 60 points that it requires all members to include in reports. According to Daniel Jendrowski, an appraisal professional who performs car appraisals, art, and real estate appraisals, these 60 points are dictated by law and are similar to the standards of real estate appraisals. There is no single standard form for collector car appraisals, but they all should conform to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). USPAP is the generally accepted standards for professional appraisal practice in North America as established by the Appraisal Standards Board. The Appraisal Standards Board is a division of the Appraisal Foundation, the organization empowered by Congress to set standards by law for all appraisals in the United States. USPAP standards were created to deal with the abuses of real estate appraisals in the banking crisis of the late 1980s and subsequently extended to all appraisal fields. To learn more about USPAP and make sure your report conforms to its standards, visit www.appraisalfoundation.org.
Not all appraisers are going to do the job the same way, although in theory, they should all come to roughly the same conclusion. Some of the key items (part of the 60-point list) that I believe should be included in all proper auto appraisals are:
Professionally prepared appraisals will always be to your benefit. Making sure your appraisal conforms to the guidelines I’ve outlined above will help provide some peace-of-mind for you and others in the hobby.
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