‘Just tell me what it’s worth based on what you see!’ Verbal assessment vs written appraisal…again…

Quick! Correctly identify and find a current value for all items in the photo, including the items hidden behind the other pieces!

Recently I was contacted by a potential client who wanted an appraisal done on antiques that are a draw for their hospitality-based business. They wished to learn the antiques’ value to help determine if they wanted to sell them individually or as business assets.

Sounded like an interesting assignment, especially as I have several contacts who specialize in selling antiques and furniture. If the prospect chose to sell items separate from the business, I could line them up with the appropriate dealers.

Soon we were on the phone exchanging pleasantries and I was directed to their website’s slideshow of rooms decorated with tasty antiques and furniture. We virtually toured the house together, with items being singled out for my attention, most of which I commented on. Fine and dandy.

But as we launched into yet another slideshow of rooms, it dawned on me that what the prospect expected me to assign values based only on these photos, which were wide-angle real-estate interior photos. That meant that I had a decent look at the whole room, but that was it. Some pieces were front and centre; many other pieces were hidden behind them.

At this point, I had to interrupt and explain that I needed to personally inspect, measure and photograph everything that they wanted appraised. Especially as the prospect claimed to have once been an antique dealer, they should have known that an item’s condition is key. Realizing the level of commitment involved, they chose to forego the appraisal.

In hindsight, it is clear that the prospect wanted only verbal evaluations – which, at best, are only an educated guess and not worth the paper they are written on! Appraisals are written documents and often used in court, so findings must be be backed up by current values. Especially if items may be included as part of a business.

So, if you are selling a business and need value found for items that may be included in the sale, cover yourself and your assets with a written appraisal.

And that’s all for this week, folks!

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