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Author’s note: Two phone calls this week prompted me to re-post this vintage essay about what happens on an initial work-through evaluation. Cheers–Kirsten

The job of cataloguing and appraising hundreds, even thousands of items of personal property can be exhausting just to think about.  But as the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  And in this case, that step should be a walk-through with a qualified appraiser. 

Collectibles expert Harry Rinker describes the walk-through in his book, Sell, Keep or Toss: How to Downsize a Home, Settle an Estate, and Appraise Personal Property.  “Consider engaging the services of a professional appraiser on an hourly basis to do a simple walk-through of the house and offer opinions on what he sees.  The appraiser walks a house from attic to basement, commenting on those objects he thinks have strong resale value.  When he is done he sits down with the client and discusses disposal and other options.”

Rinker notes that the walk-through is not a standard offering with most appraisers.  But it should be.  In my experience, a walk-though is one of the best investments you can make as you begin this process.  It gives you a framework for the many decisions that come next.  You’ll get valuable information about your property and useful advice about dealers or auctioneers who specialize in the kind of objects you have. 

It’s also a cost-effective chance to appraise your appraiser: to see her in action, to assess what she knows and to decide if you trust her to be part of your team of estate advisors.