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What is an Appraisal?

By Deborah Ng
Updated May 16, 2024
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An appraisal is a professional estimate of the value of a piece of property. The item to be appraised can be a small individual piece, such as jewelry or artwork, or something larger, such as a home or business. In many cases, this estimate is necessary before a piece of artwork, jewelry or even a home can be insured. Before a mortgage or loan is approved for a home, that home will also need to be appraised. This is important in order to make sure that the insurance or loan amount is equal to the value of the property.

There are various areas in which an appraisal can be made:

Personal Property: This includes items such as jewelry, fine china, artwork, pottery, antiques and other heirlooms.

Real Property: This consists of assessing the value of real estate.

Mass Appraisal: This combines personal property and real property appraisal.

Business Valuation: This type of appraisal assesses the value of a business including equipment, services, logos and goodwill — both tangible and intangible assets.

To become an appraiser, a person should be a good communicator and possess excellent analytical skills. It wouldn't hurt to be good with numbers too. In order to give an appraisal, an individual will need to have some schooling first. In the US, the Appraisal Foundation's Appraiser Qualifications Board has certain qualifications that must be met in order for someone to give his or her first estimate of value. The person will need to take several hours worth of classes in a chosen appraisal field, and may also need to pass an exam.

A college degree is not required to give an appraisal, but people who want to receive their training through a professional organizations might find that it is necessary. Once the training period is over, the student may be awarded an "appraiser's designation," which basically means that he or she has completed a certain course or program.

Many appraisers find that it's good to be a part of a professional organization. In addition to the initial training they can receive, the group will also help individuals to get hands-on experience by setting up, or allowing them to sit in on, appraisals. Once a person gains some experience, the possibilities are endless. He or she can work for an insurance company, a museum, a jewelry chain, a bank, a law firm and even the government.

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Discussion Comments
By CoolWish — On Jul 13, 2010

@Slothrop – Your appraisal of appraisal is pretty accurate. The tendency to insure anything and everything is indicative of this. Celebrities have been known to insure particular parts of their bodies – something that would not be possible without someone to determine the value of that particular limb or feature.

By Slothrop — On Jul 13, 2010

It seems that, given our tendency to attach value to most everything, there is almost nothing that is not, in certain situations, appraised. Is this true?

By win199 — On Jul 08, 2010

What you’re missing is that the requirements to become an appraiser actually do vary depending on what you’re looking to appraise. If you’re looking to become a jewelry appraiser, you might not need a degree or certification – just some experience with jewelry. A person looking to become a home appraiser, however, would be wise to pursue education in the subject.

Appraisers normally get paid per job and not per hour, which means if you’re fast and efficient, you could be looking at a relatively decent income depending on where you are employed. It’s great for side work or extra income for these reasons as well.

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