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Amy Parenti
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Published: 11 April 2018

Understanding the Three Professional Appraisal Organizations

Before an appraiser is engaged for your estate planning or downsizing needs, specific information should be obtained such as years of experience, specialization, formal training, fees, expected date of appraisal completion, and the number of appraisal document copies needed. It is recommended that an appraiser be engaged who is either an accredited or certified member of either Appraisers Association of America (AAA), The International Society of Appraisers (ISA) or the American Society of Appraisers (ASA).  If an appraiser is a member of one of these organizations, they are considered a “qualified appraiser” which is a designation the IRS favors. To join these organizations sample reports for different appraisal needs are reviewed and approved; educational standards must be met; and each candidate must have completed and passed a course on the Uniform Standards of Appraisal Practice (USPAP).  To select an appraiser from one of these organizations assures clients that the report will reliable, trustworthy, and of quality.

But what are the AAA, ISA, and ASA? While these three major professional organizations may seem similar, in truth each is distinct and provides different options to appraisers looking to join. Each organization maintains a professional code of ethics that all appraisers must operate under. Whether you’re an appraisal professional looking to join, or a private individual searching for a reputable resource, these three organizations are the final word in appraisers.

AAA
The Appraisers Association of America was established in 1949, and counts among its members more than 700 appraisers focused in over 100 different areas of specialization. This dynamic nonprofit organization has a strict code of ethics, requiring their appraisers to serve the public interest objectively and professionally, and offers educational courses and development opportunities. The AAA offers a certificate program, called CASP (Comprehensive Appraisal Studies Program), which “provides students with the tools to uphold the standards of professional appraisal practice.” Headquartered in New York City, the “epicenter” of the international art market, many AAA members are seasoned professionals who work in major institutions or museums and auction houses. 

ISA
Like its name suggests, the International Society of Appraisers has members in both the United States and Canada—more than 1,300 to be precise. Founded in 1979, the ISA began offering personal property appraisal courses in 1982, and today offers courses on appraisal theory, practice and principals. This member-driven association aims to “enhance public trust by producing qualified and ethical appraisers who are recognized authorities in personal property appraising.” To this end, the ISA started the Foundation for Appraisal Education in 2002, which raises money for scholarships and financial aid for those looking to advance their education in the field of personal property appraising. This nonprofit arm delivers $1,000 awards to new and registered appraisers for courses and educational opportunities.

ASA
The American Society of Appraisers was first established in 1952, after the consolidation of two prior groups, the American Society of Technical Appraisers (ASTA, organized in 1936), and the Technical Valuation Society (TVS, organized in 1939). The ASA aimed to establish “an effective professional affiliation of appraisers of all disciplines,” and at the heart of its mission is the goal to elevate the professional standards of appraising; ASA strives for “universal recognition that [its] members are objective, unbiased appraisers and consultants of values.” This multidiscipline nonprofit represents a range of appraisal fields, including: business valuation, jewelry, personal property, real estate property, and appraisal review.  Like the other organizations, ASA offers educational programs through its nonprofit Educational Foundation, which was chartered in 1967.

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