Has it ever occurred to you that you might be in possession of a highly valuable antique, and not even know it?
Take this card table that was sold at a garage sale for $25 in the late '90s. The buyer later sold it for over $500,000. In other news, this old vase sold for over $80 million. This type of return on investment is rare, but it does happen.
That, among other reasons, is why it's wise to get your antiques and valuables professionally appraised. After all, one man's trash is another man's treasure.
Keep reading for some tips and advice on how to get antiques appraised. And if you're in Oregon, why you should consider working with the professionals at Gary Germer and Associates for your antique and furniture appraisal needs.
What is a Professional Antique Appraisal?
There are many ways to go about getting a valuation of your furniture and antiques. You could visit an appraisal fair or get an appraisal done online, but there's always the risk of encountering frauds or phony experts.
Hiring a professional appraisal service often includes an official, highly detailed report put together by an experienced appraiser who not only assesses the inherent value of a piece but also assesses it against its current market value.
The report will contain a detailed account of how the appraiser arrived at the figure, so you can rest assured knowing all measures were taken and that they didn't just pluck a number out of thin air.
Why Should I Bother with an Appraisal?
The obvious reason to get furniture and antiques appraised is to assess their resale value. You don't want to be one of those garage sale stories. For instance, things like flatware that might seem like junk could be valuable collector's items.
You also don't want to conjure up a sale price out of nowhere. A serious buyer will want to know how you arrived at the price and will want to be sure it's fair.
When it comes to a family heirloom, there might not be a plan to sell in the immediate future. But it's still good to know how much value you're sitting on.
And keep in mind, the value of antiques fluctuates with the market. A good rule of thumb is to get your valuables appraised every five years or so.
Appraisals are especially important when it comes to estate liquidation. If you're filing an estate tax return, the IRS requires certain items to be professionally appraised.
Same goes if you're taking out an insurance policy on your personal property. The insurance company needs to know the value of what you're insuring.
How to Choose an Antique Appraiser
In the antique appraisal world, there are some red flags to look out for. First of all, never work with an appraiser who charges a percentage of the value. This might seem obvious, but some people still fall for this old trick.
A reputable appraiser will never work this way and it's against the rules of regulating bodies like the International Society of Appraisers. Also, don't hire appraisers who double as antique collectors or buyers.
This is a huge conflict of interest. If they plan to turn around and buy your item, what's stopping them from lowballing you?
Do your research and make sure only to work with reputable, accredited, and experienced appraisal companies.
Are There Reputable Antique Appraisers Near Me?
If you're in Portland, Oregon, one of the best appraisal services to work with is Gary Gremer & Associates.
Owner and operator Gary Gremer brings 30 years of dedicated experience to the table, along with an education in art history and an apprenticeship under Bob Rau, host of PBS show "The Collectors".
How to Get Antiques Appraised by Gary Germer
If you have an item you've been meaning to get appraised, the first step is to go online and get a free spot check.
It's a complimentary service the company offers to help their potential customers determine whether or not their item is even worth appraising. It's a win, win. If it's not, you won't waste your time. If it is, you'll know the service is of value to you.
The next step is to figure out what type of appraisal you need. This is generally done over the phone or a Skype consultation where an appraiser will ask questions to determine if you need a verbal evaluation or a legally-binding written report.
If it's just for your own knowledge, a verbal evaluation should do the trick. If it's for official resale, estate tax or insurance purposes, you'll need a written report.
Once the type of appraisal is determined, Gary Gremer and his team will begin the research process. They will conduct a thorough analysis of the item and its market value and deliver a USPAP and IRS-compliant appraisal.
How the Purpose of an Appraisal can Affect the Valuation
A professional appraiser needs to know the purpose of the appraisal in order to give an accurate valuation.
If the item is being appraised for a charitable donation or an estate liquidation, the IRS is likely the reader of the report. In this case, the appraisal will be based on the item's "fair market value".
This is determined by considering the bartering price that sits between what a seller is willing to let the item go for, and what a buyer is willing to pay.
If the appraisal is required for insurance purposes, the valuation could be higher due to little or no bartering between done between the seller and buyer. In some cases, this can result in a higher evaluation.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, no one wants to get ripped off. To some, antiques, furniture and old jewelry are just collecting dust in the attic. To others, they are sentimental family heirlooms.
Regardless, using a reputable, professional appraisal service not only keeps you above board with the IRS, but it can also give you invaluable knowledge and can potentially put you in a powerful selling position.
We hope this information has helped you understand how to get antiques appraised so that you don't end up selling a card table worth half a million for 25 bucks. Contact us for more information on professional appraisal services in Oregon.