Make a list of the items to be appraised. Make sure that those items are available for inspection and not in boxes waiting to be unpacked or otherwise inaccessible. The appraiser will want to know how many items are to be evaluated and the list will organize you and make the job easier for the appraiser.
Ask your lawyer, banker or friend for a recommendation of a qualified appraiser.
Make sure that the appraiser is a member of a professional not-for-profit appraisal organization like the Appraisers Association of America, the American Society of Appraisers or the International Society of Appraisers.
Make sure that the appraiser has taken and passed the course Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).
Ask the appraiser about his/her expertise to ensure that the appraiser is qualified to document and evaluate the items to be appraised. Do not hire a jewelry appraiser to value furniture.
Ask the appraiser for credentials or references.
Fees range from $75 to $400 per hour depending on the area of the country. The hourly fee will be for on site time. Ask about the charges for research and report preparation time. Ask about charges for travel time to the site.
Never pay or expect to pay a percentage of the value of the items being appraised
Make a mutually convenient appointment for the appraiser to value the items.
Have any prior appraisals, bills of sale, exhibition history or other important documents related to the works available for the appraiser to examine if necessary.
Walk through the house with the appraiser to point out the items to be examined and valued.
The written document should include an accurate complete description for each item detailing the date, physical condition and measurements. See the Getty Object ID for specifics.
The appraisal report must clearly state the purpose, the date the items were examined, the dates they were valued and the effective date of the document.
Check the website for the Appraisers Association of America to learn the Elements of a Correctly Prepared Appraisal and make sure that the finished document has those which apply to your job.
Every appraisal job requires a contract between the appraiser and the client so that both will know the extent of the job, approximately when the job will be completed and the fee to be charged.
Expect to pay a partial payment, a deposit, for the job when the appraiser leaves at the end of the day.
This should be a fun, learning process for the owner!