Minding the Hen House: Professional Standards for Art and Antique Appraisers

Posted by on Apr 25, 2015 in Blog Posts | No Comments


New Minimum Professional Qualifications Standards are Set for an Unregulated Industry

The profession of appraising art and antiques has long been challenged by conflicts of interest and lack of regulatory oversight and requirements.   In fact, most countries who have firm standards in place for the appraisal of real property, fall short in regulating their personal property appraisers.   Given the substantial financial decisions reliant on appraisal services, it seems that the dangers of hiring a professional in this wholly unregulated field would be difficult to overstate. 

Where does this leave consumers?  In the United States, The Appraisal Foundation, an agency funded by, but not empowered by Congress, issues the only recognized set of guidelines: The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).  USPAP was developed for real estate appraisers, but is also the source of generally accepted standards and ethics for personal property appraisers throughout much of the world.  The guidelines address ethical considerations such as bias and conflicts of interest, as well as standards for the research and development of an appraisal assignment. 

USPAP is the lowest accepted industry threshold, setting minimum ethics development standards.  In addition to USPAP, in 1998, the Appraisal Foundation’s Appraisers Qualifications Board (AQB) developed voluntary minimum qualifications for personal property appraisers.  This standard has been in the long, painful process of proposed revision, exposure and comment since 2010.  The new standard is poised to be effective early in 2015 […]

The document is complex and confusing and offers some equivalency options not listed here.  Highlights of the Proposed Criteria: 

  • The requirements are not voluntary for members of Sponsoring organizations, which include the three largest appraisal societies in the USA:  ISA, AAA, and ASA
  • USPAP Training and Compliance, including passing an examination taught by an AQB-Certified Instructor, and a 7 hr update class every two years
  • Successful completion, including qualifying examination, of 120 creditable classroom hours of Personal Property specific education 
  • 45 hours of the above classroom instruction must be in Appraisal Valuation Theory and Methodology specific to the appraisal of personal property
  • 700 hours of documented personal property appraisal writing experience
  • Significant market experience with the type of property to be appraised, roughly equivalent to 2.5 full-time years.  The wording for this section is so complex and confusing that a broad range of interpretations are likely to be adopted by sponsoring organizations.
  • 70 hours of continuing education during each five (5) year period preceding credential renewal.  Twenty (20) hours of which must be in coursework related to valuation theory. 
  • An Associate’s Degree or Equivalent Undergraduate Education

Consumers of appraisal services should be happy that more strident standards will be in place for personal property appraisers, right?  Well, the new standards are not without controversy.  Some of the concerns about the criteria are listed below.  As these standards will be revisited in as little as two years, I’ve also suggested some solutions for the next round.  

Read Ms. Charleston-Rosenberg’s entire article at AAD.

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