Flat Fee Quoted Per Job: Appraisal Cost

  • First of all, relax. Whatever you’re experiencing is not a real crisis. An imminent asteroid impact is a real crisis, and I can probably handle that, too. I’ve been in the antiques and art world for so long that I count chairs instead of sheep to go to sleep.
  • My standard rate remains unchanged since 2002: $150/hr. Minimum charge: $150. Describe your need and tell me the PURPOSE of the appraisal. If you intend to insure or donate something or plan an equitable distribution of your collection, estate, or someone else’s estate, then you need me. If you are just curious, Google it first. You might save some money. If I think that you do not need me, I’m going to tell you that from the get-go.
  • No travel charge in Northern Virginia, which to me means a 30 mile radius from where I live in Gainesville. For distant assignments I charge portal-to-portal at my standard rate ($150 per hour) minus 30 miles. Time is a valuable commodity. I do not give what little I have remaining away willingly and it doesn’t matter what task is at hand.
  • For depositions and trials the rate is $300/hr portal-to-portal or $600, whichever is greater, plus expenses – in advance. And by the way, I only fly business class. I’m just too old and cranky to be stuffed between a howling infant and a farting fat man.
  • Overdue invoices accrue interest at 2% per month, compounded.

For the budget-minded client: eConsults & eAnswers

  • A consult without the appraiser actually placing hands-on the subject property has its limitations and is more easily refuted. For some purposes I will not provide an eConsult because it is too ineffectual, too risky, or too foolish to render an opinion in this manner. If there is a tax consequence or if the situation is litigious, this restricted appraisal is unacceptable to the IRS and in Court you would not prevail; you need the whole nine yards. Likewise, for certain engagements photos emailed to me will be sufficient (e.g.: eAnswers), but for other situations I am required to witness the subject property in person (e.g.: donation, insurance, estate settlement).
  • eAnswers Approach – just $25: My opinion or answer to a question is provided via email. Sample questions: “Is it worth appraising? How old is it? What style is it? What type of wood is it? What’s it worth? How best may I sell it? Who is buried in Grant’s tomb?” I generate a PayPal Invoice which you must fulfill before I send you my answer via email. No refunds. See my credentials. If I do not know the answer, no deal. If I get the answer wrong, I’ll give you my first-born child. He’s 37. You’ll love him.
  • eConsults – $50-up: My opinion is provided in an email or PDF format via email depending on the individual circumstances. Cost is determined by time spent at a rate of $150/hour and I generate a PayPal Invoice which you must fulfill before I send you my answer via email. No refunds. See my credentials.
  • eFacetime Consults – $150 minimum: First email me to ask if I have the time. If I do, then make an appointment and I will generate a PayPal Invoice which you must fulfill before we meet via Facebook or Skype video. Don’t know what that is? Ask any 12 year old in your neighborhood. Don’t have neighbors? Then do what I do when I need to learn about tech stuff fast, go on YouTube and search all the nerd videos on how to Skype video. And of course you must have fast reception and, at the very least, a Smartphone. My opinion is provided during our video conference when you show me whatever it is that you want my opinion on; e.g. if you have a table top full of purple widgets or an attic full of junk. You might want to do a trial run with a pal just to make sure you know how to do this correctly and if you have enough bandwidth to pull it off smoothly. No refunds. See my credentials.
  • HOME OFFICE in VIRGINIAGainesville, Virginia (south of Washington DC). Actually, with my global iPhone, MacBook Pro, and connective software services, my “office” is wherever I am anywhere in the world where there is cellular connectivity. Evidently my being in sight of a Sprint cell tower in an American county with 1.2 million people has absolutely nothing to do with connectivity, or so it would seem. A pox on Sprint.
  • DUAL NATIONAL: Due to the miracle of birth, I am a US/UK dual national and hold current US and UK passports. Thus, I can provide appraisal and consultation services throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Commonwealth of Nations (54 countries in all), and the European Union (27 countries in all), for now; no one knows how BREXIT will impact us. The UK is/was a member of the European Union. Any citizen of the UK is free to live, travel, work, retire, or vacate without any problems in any country within the European Union and The Commonwealth of Nations.
  • OVERSEAS CLIENTS: Remuneration in US dollars by wire. Business class air fare required. Marriott, Hilton, or equivalent American standard is required (4/5-star). Quaker-modest etiquette required: no drugs, no bribery, no sex, no proselytizing, no exceptions. I report all criminal activity to the proper authorities.
  • Certified Spanish interpreter on staff. Appraisal reports are delivered in English, or for a surcharge, in Spanish. Most other languages are also available for even more money; you better think about it.
  • BY APPOINTMENT DAILY: In the greater DC-Baltimore metro region and all of Northern Virginia (e.g.  Aldie, Alexandria, Annapolis, Arlington, Ashburn, Baltimore, Belmont, Berryville, Bethesda, Bowie, Brambleton, Bristow, Broadlands, Burke, Centerville, Chevy Chase, Columbia, DC, Dominion Valley, Dulles, Fair Lakes, Fairfax, Frederick, Gainesville, Hamilton, Haymarket, Herndon, Lake Manassas, Landsdowne, Leesburg, Lewes, Dover, Manassas, Mechanicsville, Middleburg, Oakton, Ocean City, Purcellville, Reston, Springfield, Sterling, Upper Marlboro, Upperville, Vienna, Warrenton, Waterford, Winchester, Woodbridge to Philadelphia metro area) and from Charlottesville south all the way to Argentina, but about fifteen miles south of Comodoro Rivadavia, add 200%. U.S. Space Station, add $1,000,000.00. Russian Space Station, add $5,000,000.00. The point is that I willing to go almost anywhere if you pay me enough.
  • Examination, Identification, Cataloging, Research, Photography
  • Writing, Editing, Copying, Compiling, Collating, and Hand-holding
  • Telephone Time: Land & Cellular
  • eConsultations – PayPal is available.
  • PayPal is also available for clients who forget to bring their checkbook. I get it. Who carries a checkbook anymore?
  • Conferring, Consulting, or Review of the appraiser’s Work File
  • Preparation for a Deposition or a Court appearance
  • Appraisal Reviews of reports written by other appraisers
  • One-on-one tutorials for antiques collectors and rookie dealers.
  • Client tolerance of my dry humor is required. If you want more Sahara wit, read my books!

STANDARD PROCEDURAL PROTOCOL: For appraisal assignments the standard procedure is for the appraiser to assess the assignment via telephone, determine the intended purpose of the appraisal report, to ask pertinent questions relative to the prospective assignment, inform the client of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) and its mandated requirements, inform the client that a retainer of one-half of the estimated cost of the appraisal assignment (@$150/hr) is required upon completion of the inspections of the clients’ property, set an appointment time and date, arrive on time, inspect, photograph, measure, and write a brief on-the-spot description of each property as part of the cataloging exercise, require the client to read and sign a Letter of Agreement or a Retention Agreement, collect the retainer fee, return to the office, research comparable sales in the relevant market in order to substantiate each numerical conclusion, write and prepare the formal legal appraisal document, notify the client when the document has been completed, receive from the client the balance of the flat fee before the document is released via email as a PDF, maintain on file for five years the document and two additional years if there is any Court action. But before all of this happens, do read all there is about the Appraisal Process.

Standard Policy

  • Estimated appraisal report costs will be determined once the examination period has been completed.
  • For small assignments full payment is required, about $750 or less is small.
  • For large assignments (over 100 hours) compensation will be remitted on an as-needed, draw basis.
  • The balance of the fee and expenses is required to be paid in full before a finished report is released.
  • Refunds are not granted for services already rendered. Overdue fee: 2% compounded monthly after 30 days.
  • In the event of a Court action, your lawyer will be my client, not you.
  • In Court cases, when expert testimony is required, full payment will be made in advance in order to avoid the appearance that the appraiser’s testimony depends on the outcome of the case. If the retainer is exhausted, or will soon be exhausted, then it must be replenished before I leave my office — and I don’t give twit if the trial is the next morning. No bucks = No cooperation. Period. Lawyers have ripped me off one too many times already.
  • A copy of the trial transcript will be provided to the appraiser at no cost by retaining counsel.
  • Deliberate concealment of relevant material facts on the part of a Client will automatically terminate the assignment.
  • Notice to auction companies: Violations of the Sherman Anti Trust Act will be reported to the appropriate authorities.
  • Money, power, cleavage, celebrity, and world class collections do not impress me. Only virtues and the intangibles are worth dying for. Everything else is just stuff. Integrity, fidelity, honesty, truth, love, honor, valor, and the other immeasurable qualities of humans are all that really matter. These are what we do take with us to the other side, I hope.
  • There is no person in heaven or on Earth more honest than I am, I swear to God. If you perceive the slightest infringement on ethics on my part, you should examine the darkness that surely exists in your own soul.
  • Below Is My Standard Policy Within My Letter of Agreement for All Written Assignments:
    • The Appraiser will adhere to the ethical standards promulgated by two international appraisal societies: ASA and RICS.
    • The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) are in effect. A copy of the Report will be maintained for five years as per USPAP regulations. The final Report is held in confidence unless The Client(s) states otherwise.
    • The Appraisal Report is copyrighted intellectual property owned by the Appraiser. Post-release aesthetic modifications to appraisal report that are not required by the USPAP will be at the discretion of and at the convenience of the appraiser who will be compensated in full in advance per episode. The Client(s) holds the Appraiser faultless for the liabilities & limiting conditions of the assignment as stated in the Appraisal Report.
    • The Client(s) will pay for all types of expenses incurred by Mark C Grove, LLC, for collecting late remittances, plus interest after 30 days. Any controversy or claim arising out of or relating to this contract, or breach thereof, shall be settled by Mediation IAW Virginia State Law, and judgment upon the award rendered by the Mediator(s) may be entered in any Court having jurisdiction thereof.
    • The appraiser can at any time halt the assignment and keep the client’s deposit or the portion of the client’s retainer that may have been consumed if the client is discovered to be engaged in unlawful, illegal, unethical, or deceitful activities or displays irregular behavior (e.g. bipolar, OCD, or any other modern flavor of nut-job crazy) that interferes with the appraiser’s ability to perform his professional duty.

Head’s Up Folks

One can expect senior accredited appraisers who are members of the international organizations, American Society of Appraisers and its British equivalent, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (I’m a former member) to base their Schedule of Fees commensurately with other professionals in the relevant market and on their experience, training, and skills. Members charge for services rendered just the same as other professionals.

I am constantly amazed to discover that there are still naive adults in the United States who are surprised to learn that I charge for my professional services. “Why do you charge?” they ask. And I reply, “Because every time I go to a grocery store someone insists that I pay them money.”

Professional appraisers are NOT tradesman contractors that come to your home and provide a free estimate of cost. Your other professionals do not operate that way and neither do I.

Another question I am often asked, “What does it take to become an accredited senior appraiser?” My answer, “A four-year university degree, fifteen or more years experience on the job as a dealer, between a half million and two million dollars worth of mistakes in the marketplace as a dealer, eight thousand billable report-writing hours, about fifteen to twenty thousand dollars worth of initial training, at least twenty-five thousand dollars on equipment and reference books to get started, and a willingness and ability to work 10 to 18 hour days seven days a week 365 days a year from day one – for – the – remainder – of – your – career.” Their response, “Gulp.”

If I had wanted a more expeditious career path, I’d have gone to medical school.