At this moment in time, most of my work as a personnel property appraiser for Asian Art is verbal consultations about the quality and value of long held family art, or material that is recently inherited. For estates purposes, this involves a written report, a legal document that is quite detailed and specific about quality elements and value characteristics. These documents are expensive. Frequently a person is under the impression they must get an appraisal to sell or to donate. Neither is true.
If your property is over $5,000.00 in fair market value (certainly for anything of value under $5,000.00 too), or you have been told this true, and you want to sell, I suggest you consult an appraiser, not hire for appraisal. To sell you need to do homework and find like material sold in the open marketplace. Sometimes, simply using the title search terms of like or similar material, ‘imari bowl blue and white’ can provide a clue for research. Frequently I mention, ask your librarian for reference and assistance, that is part of their professional scope. This often is miscommunication because of word usage. An appraisal is a legal document by definition of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, USPAP, that all appraisers must adhere to.
On the website for the American Society of Appraisers is an outline for Report Writing that consists of fifteen pages of contents, each at least one page in length, with Body of Appraisal Report addressing the interpretative description of the property such as a summary of the physical and economic characteristics from the literal description, ranking of property and describing research methodology. A market discussion must be included with identification and choice of appropriate market, the current use and comparable and analysis of all market activity. Where the primary and secondary market is needs to be addressed as well as the value characteristics of comparable. What is the state of the economy and the context of the market as it relates to property being appraised? All of these points are discussed and more.
For a donation, if the fair market value is over $10,000.00, yes, a legal document is required by the IRS for a charitable contribution deduction on IRS taxes. I became an appraiser in 2006 and to this day have on my desk the American Society of Appraisers Personal Property Appraisal Report Writing Checklist. It is six pages long, dated September 2020. Included in this document is a Letter of Transmittal with date, client and address, effective date of valuation, date of inspection and the intended use of the document such as for “income tax purpose” among many bullet points listed on web page. Also outlined is a page for appraisal terms and a glossary for special terms if used in report. USPAP requires a discussion of the approaches to value and a reason for using one along with a signed certification and declaration of current USPAP compliant. Sources consulted need to be listed with addresses.
Hope this helps understand why an appraisal report for personal property is expensive, it takes attention to detail and time. Many appraisers have a minimum for a written report, mine is an eight-hour minimum.