What Is USPAP and Why Is It Important to Hire a USPAP-Compliant Appraiser?
Tuesday, May 9, 2017 in Education
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By Sarah Reeder, ISA AM
If you need a precious item of yours appraised – perhaps a painting, your grandmother’s ring, or an antique piece of furniture – you want to make sure you hire the best person for the job.
The International Society of Appraisers is committed to offering education and training to personal property appraisers so that they, in turn, can deliver the very best in quality appraisals to their clients. An essential part of this education and training is USPAP, the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, of which all ISA members must be in compliance as part of their membership requirements.
This blog post will help you understand a bit more about what is required to be a USPAP-compliant appraiser and why it’s so important to choose one.
So What Is USPAP?
The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) is the official guidance document published by the Appraisal Standards Board (ASB) of The Appraisal Foundation (TAF). USPAP was adopted by the United States Congress in 1989 following the problems caused by the savings and loan crisis and defines a set of recommended procedures and ethical standards for appraisers. The document is revised and reissued every two years and the current edition is for 2016-2017. The current document is 395 pages long, covering an extensive framework of standards for appraisers to follow. Standards 7 (Personal Property Appraisal, Development) and 8 (Personal Property Appraisal, Reporting) are the two that directly address personal property appraising.
USPAP also contains a number of important Rules governing the professional behavior of appraisers separate from the Standards, including the Ethics Rule, Record Keeping Rule, Competency Rule, and Scope of Work Rule.
USPAP states, "The Appraisal Standards Board (ASB) of The Appraisal Foundation develops, interprets, and amends the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) on behalf of appraisers and users of appraisal services."
What Does "USPAP-Compliant" Mean?
Appraisers who state they are USPAP-compliant have pledged to follow the regulations outlined in the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice in their appraisal reports.
There is a 15-hour course with a written examination based on the material in the USPAP guidance document that appraisers must take and pass in order to state that they are current with USPAP. After passing the initial examination, appraisers must take a 7-hour update course every two years to remain current, or they will have to take the 15-hour course and examination again.
According to U.S. law, USPAP compliance is required for real estate appraisers, those who evaluate buildings and homes, but is only voluntary for personal property appraisers, who evaluate items such as antiques and fine arts within a house. However, all members of the International Society of Appraisers must be USPAP-compliant as part of their membership requirements.
Why is It Important to Hire a USPAP-Compliant Appraiser?
It's critical to hire a USPAP-compliant appraiser because USPAP protects the interests of the client.
One of the key features of USPAP is that the appraiser is not allowed to charge an appraisal fee that is based on the appraised value of the items included within the appraisal report. It’s easy now to see how this could lead to situations where an appraised value could be inflated to increase the appraisal fee, but historically this practice did occur.
To ensure your appraisal is done ethically and professionally, USPAP Rules require that appraisers, among other things:
- Include a signed certification of non-bias and impartiality in their appraisal report
- Prepare a detailed workfile to document the specifics of the appraisal
- Meet competency requirements
If you’d like to view the detailed guidelines, you’ll find them here:
- Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, Standard 8-3, page 59 of current edition
- USPAP Record Keeping Rule, page 11 of current edition
- USPAP Competency Rule, page 12 of current edition
Finding a Qualified Appraiser
In conclusion, individuals seeking an appraisal of their personal property should always look for an appraiser who is USPAP-compliant. While voluntary, USPAP compliance is a mark of professionalism and ethical standards and serves to protect users of appraisal services.
To find a qualified appraiser in your area, use our Find an ISA Member tool, where you can search by zip code, specialty item, and more.
About the Author:
Sarah Reeder, ISA AM, is the owner of Artifactual History® Appraisal and a Member of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Appraisal Education (FAE). She is a generalist appraiser of antiques and art and specialist of Mid-Century Modern and 20th Century Design.
This blog post is part of a series that covers many of the topics and questions a new client might have and serves both as part of the ISA Means Business! Toolbox. You can email the link to this post or print out the information for a client asking about USPAP or for future clients beginning the research process of hiring an appraiser. This series was born out of the realization that it can be very difficult for those outside the appraisal world to obtain detailed, reliable information about appraising, and we hope that this post and the other posts in this series will help educate users of appraisal services so they are knowledgeable, empowered consumers who recognize the importance of hiring professional, USPAP-compliant appraisers.