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Switching Gears - Changing Your Appraisal Specialty

by Administrator on Sep 18, 2017 General Appraisal 856 Views

Appraisal theory is much the same when valuing most things including general personal property, art (many specific kinds), antiques, machinery and equipment, gems / jewelry, business property and real property.  Yes, there are many things that you have to know in any particular specialty area, but it’s not impossible for an appraiser to move from one appraisal specialty area to another, or for an appraiser to become competent in more than one area.

You can’t become a modern art appraiser without developing a body of knowledge specific to that specialization.  It generally takes years to acquire the education and understanding that you need just to step into an area with confidence, and there are usually a number of individuals who have dedicated their lives to any one specialty area.  Individuals become so expert in a specialty area that they are sought out by others who are willing to pay for their expertise.  Attorneys hire individuals who are experts in specialty areas when they want an appraisal done, word gets around regarding who they can rely on.

There are many potential areas of specialization that an appraiser in one area can move to.  If you are drawn to an area of specialization like automobiles for example, maybe because you have been a collector or an enthusiast for many years, you may find that you know a great deal about what makes automobiles valuable.  If you find that you are drawn to an area that you really enjoy learning more about, that area may be the one you want to study.

Appraisal experts often begin as traders or collectors in a specialty area.  It’s one thing to own a few collectible guns and it’s another thing altogether to become an expert in a period or a type of gun.  If your passion lies with civil war pistols you can buy the books, attend the courses, attend the auctions and get a hands-on education with someone who does business with others and who buys and sells civil war era pistols.  You generally can't get the experience and education that you need to become an expert by taking courses or attending auctions.  Civil war pistol experts have looked at and taken apart pistols and know what they are going to find.  They also know when not to take apart a gun because that can often detroy its value. 

Real estate agents learn about real property principles and practices in their educational courses and during their everyday interactions with buyers and sellers, but they often don’t learn about specific areas related to real estate like real estate finance.  An agent may be the absolute best at marketing a property but still lack knowledge about things like site value, construction principals and development costs.  A jewelry expert may understand how diamonds are graded but may not know where the stones come from and what kind of stones is favored in specific market.

Most people, including appraisers, have an interest in more than one valuation specialty area.  If you have given your life to the valuation of machinery and equipment that doesn’t mean that you can’t switch gears and learn how to value businesses or antiques, and some appraisers do just that.  If you search through the advertisements of appraisers you will find many who have mastered business and real property, or machinery and real property.  There are those who attempt to become masters of several areas and stretch themselves thin attempting to become experts in several areas.

Many areas of specialization have no testing and no requirements set by government to control new appraiser entrants.  If you are not an expert but making yourself out to be you will likely live a miserable life because you won't have the basic knowledge that you should have had to promote yourself as an expert.  People are quick to find those who are unqualified in their specialty area and expose them.

For more appraisal information contact Glenn J. Rigdon MA, MRICS, ASA is a Las Vegas / Henderson Nevada based appraiser who can be contacted via email or via his business website known as Appraiser Las Vegas  (, or you can also click on “Contact Us” on the home page of this website or visit my public profile at LinkedIn at

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