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First of all, antiques and art are known as personal property (PP). For that matter, anything that can be picked up and moved is considered personal property. The dirt under you feet is known a real property (RP), hence real estate. And so are buildings that are attached to the ground; they are RP, too.

Sometimes people ask me what it takes to become an appraiser of PP. I answered a general inquiry on Linkedin 29 MAY 2011:

TIM HILLMAN “To all Personal Property Appraisers. I am a Certified Residential Appraiser. Due to increased regulations and government interference, I am considering moving into different appraisal disciplines. I would appreciate comments, suggestions, on different appraisal disciplines, requirement, information sources etc. I have interests in antiques, art, and antique automobiles, I am a minor collector and have always enjoyed this as a hobby. I am not limiting my considerations to these items and will consider any other discipline that may be interesting. I live in Charleston S.C. which is a very historical City. I thank you for your comments in advance.”

MY COMMENT The personal property discipline is a long hard row to hoe. It takes about 15 years before one knows enough to begin the accreditation process and then maybe another 10 to get to the ASA level. There is more about the Appraisal Process on my website (mgrove.com) than anywhere else on the Web, including the feeble RICS, AAA, ISA, and ASA websites. My suggestion would be to move laterally within RP, perhaps pick up an RICS designation and move your business into the world-wide market instead of landlocking yourself to a provincial local village (I’ve been there) with a typically narrow perspective. I know because I grew up in a place (VA) where the locals prefer white colonial style houses with columns as a rule, and often gag at a pastel colored stucco house in a different style. Many of these types of people have eyes situated very close together on their face.  I suggest that you broaden your business geographically and move outside of the box rather than retooling into an unrelated discipline, unless of course you’re still a spring chicken. Go to where business is if business ain’t where you are!

TIM HILLMAN “Thank you Mark, I have business here, and I am earning a living. In fact, this area is much better off than most areas in the country. I am simply looking to diversify, expand. I am not a spring chicken, but I am certainly not too old to learn. The next logical goal for me would be Certified General Appraiser. I am not going to pursue CGA, at this time, but that does not mean I won’t in the future. I traveled extensively when I was single and without a family. I do not want to travel at this time. At least not globally. I have a complete understanding of the USPAP competency rule. The educational requirements for PP that I have looked at don’t appear to be all that difficult. But as you have pointed out acquiring competence with specific PP types would be more difficult. I have a degree in culinary arts, I did not pursue this as a career choice, but because I love to cook, and I wanted to know how. I have researched antiques, art, and antique autos prior to purchasing them to make sure I was not getting ripped off. As and appraiser, I understand that the price someone is asking for something has nothing to do with what it is worth. Your 32 years experience as an appraiser is 25 years more experience than I have. I do appreciate your input. My interest in PP is not only an interest in a career path, but also something I enjoy and will continue to learn about whether for career purposes for my own curiosity and interest. I hope to be actively learning something all the days of life. So the commitment to years of experience necessary is not really a deterrent. I’m not quite sure what you meant by the comment about “eyes being two close together” perhaps that is a reference to Virginia’s practice of marrying their cousins. LOL. Mark I do appreciate your insight, If your son asked you what was the best way for him to become a PP appraiser, what would you recommend?”

MY COMMENT   Hi Tim. My wife is from Lima Peru, just so you know I didn’t marry a Virginia cousin (LOL).  I teach for AAA at NYU their on-line appraisal report writing workshop. My students never fail to ask the same question, “How is the best (meaning quickest) way to become competent in PP?” My answer is always an emphatic, “Work for an auction venue.” One can learn general knowledge about thousands of PP categories very quickly working at an auction house; and that is what is needed in order to make a decent living in the PP field. Narrow knowledge is an empty wallet. Broad knowledge is a fat purse. It still takes a while, and the number of years will depend on the rate and volume that passes thru the auction house. Perhaps five years. Then, with your background, the USPAP, etc. you might be able to pass a specialty test.  But there are first steps before specializing, like taking the mandatory 4 core courses and maintaining a work log of your report writing and research assignments (billed hours). You are not required to earn a Certification from one of the associated Universities, e.g. NYU, Pratt, RISD, UC Irvine, appraisal studies programs, though all are excellent and the program might be a lot of fun for you. They won’t tell you that unless you ask the direct question because universities are a business, unlike us appraisers, they are not impartial! Ha! They want you to spend tens of thousands in credits, books, travel, hotels, etc. In another incarnation they were chiropractors or priests. Learn from this myopic egocentric institutional self-serving behavior: never place your interest before your client’s best interest. It is patently unethical. Even if “they” are a sterling university or a revered padre. You are an impartial witness, identifier, and valuer. We appraisers tell our clients what they NEED to hear even if it is not what they want to hear. Regards, -Mark

… This dialogue continues on Linkedin.