How to Choose an Auto Appraiser


For the majority of us, our car is the second most valuable asset we own. Finding someone who can accurately calculate and document a value for that vehicle is vital to properly protect that asset.

When you have a vehicle professionally appraised you are buying more than just the appraisal report, you are buying a legal document! The appraisal report could be reviewed by a legal institution, bank, lender, etc. So the appraiser must have the required experience and credible reputation to withstand scrutiny.

The appraiser’s responsibility does not end when the appraisal document is sent. The value of a vehicle might be questioned in a later legal dispute, so the appraiser must stand behind their appraisal report for years down the road. For example,

Suppose you have your 1940 Ford Coupe Street Rod appraised and the appraisal report values it at $100,000. Then your Street Rod is wrecked just a few months later. The insurance company hires their own appraiser to review your appraisal report and inspect the remains of your Street Rod. If the insurance company’s appraiser says the pre-accident value was really less than $100,000, you have a serious problem. Your original appraiser will be asked to participate in an arbitration or a court hearing as an expert witness.

Some important questions to ask when choosing an appraiser are:

  1. How long ago was your formal training to appraise vehicles?

  2. How long was the training process?

  3. Who trained you and what experience did your trainer have?

  4. How long have you been appraising collector cars?

  5. Do you personally travel to the car location to do the inspection?

  6. Will you call me while at the car location to provide early feedback?

  7. Do you use value guides, comparable vehicles or other methods to set the appraised value?

  8. Do you adhere to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP)?

  9. What will the written report contain?

  10. Can you give me the contact information for referrals?

  11. Are you registered with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)?

Some clients simply “price shop” to find the lowest cost appraisal. This approach can cost you more in the long run. If the appraisal report does not stand up to scrutiny, you may need to pay for another appraisal or even face a fine for unfairly representing the true value of the vehicle.

When selecting an appraiser, check the BBB for complaints, look online for any negative reviews, and ask about their refund policy.

Do you really want to use an unreliable or unethical appraiser representing you? You know an appraisal is unethical if:

  1. They give you a DV Estimate greater than the loss amount on vehicle

  2. They tell you a dealer will NOT buy your car at any price

  3. They tell you your car is not safe to drive without them physically inspecting it

  4. They give you a high value appraisal without looking at your car

  5. They charge you a percentage or a contingency

  6. They GUARANTEE payment or settlement amount

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