The All-Important Role of the Automotive Appraiser

The use of automotive price guides, for cars and trucks, has one big pitfall that often engulfs both buyers and sellers, namely when the reader has a total disregard for the two primary rules of the Automotive Value:

1. Condition, condition, condition.

2. Supply & demand drives the market.

Professional vehicle value appraisers, dealers, and collectors know that a vehicle’s overall condition will determine, more that any guidebook, opinion, award, or advertisement the true value of a vehicle. For this reason, a flawless 1962 Chevrolet Corvette with matching numbers may be worth up to $135,000 or more, while a damaged and non matching numbered version of the same car will only be worth $35,000. Why so little? Because the cost of restoration will cost more than the value of the car. Why is my 1964 Chevrolet Impala SS coupe worth more than a 1940 Buick coupe? Again it is supply and demand at work, and because that is what people are willing to spend for it.

Greed and ignorance drove the collector car market to the road of absurdity in the late 1980's with cars selling for outrageous sums. Ferrari’s, Jaguars, Cadillacs, Chevrolets and many other makes sold for prices between $100,000 and $13,000,000. When reality set in, those same cars were selling for a fraction of the price. We are unlikely to ever see that surge again. Cars and trucks should never be considered as an investment. If you fall in ‘love’ with a car that your dear Uncle had, take time to look at the condition of the car, the ownership history, repair history, and check with a professional car   value appraiser, before you purchase that car of your dreams. Often sentimentality blocks the reality of the condition and the cost to put the vehicle in road worthy condition. You should check the prices of similar vehicles sold at auction, through dealerships, and do your home work, then hire an appraiser to check it out, with the final step, have an independent mechanic check out the complete condition. Too many collectors regret that he or she didn’t hire professional and objective experts.

Another valuable service the  value appraiser performs, besides helping make a wise buy, is determining the value of the vehicle in the eyes of the insurance company. Many insurers are far from experts when it come to assessing the value of a special interest vehicle, and can be reluctant to pay market value for a vehicle that has been destroyed. With a detailed appraisal, [performed by a independent certified value appraiser] with photographs on file with the insurer, there’s a greater likelihood of a fair and equitable settlement. Without one, it is solely up to the owner to prove the market value –not an easy job for someone who’s never don it before. View in this manner, the cost of an appraisal is well spent. An appraiser can value a vehicle after damage or in some cases, loss or fire, however it is more difficult and can sometimes result in arbitration hearings. Many insurance companies require a professional value appraisal prior to writing a stated value policy. The report protects both the insured and the insurance company.

Expert Witness Testimony

Looking for a specialized, non-conflicted expert witness? Our testimony is basis on vehicle valuation only. A few of the more common needs for an expert witness to render an opinion in regards to vehicle values are:

• Establish a fair Market Value (FMV) or Actual Cash Value (ACV)
• Determine an accurate Diminishment In Value
• Aid in divorce property settlement  
• Satisfy estate settlement claim
• Validate an insurance loss claim 
• Court/Mediation/Arbitration disputes
• Corporate bankruptcy in federal court
• Numerous personal bankruptcies
• Repair quality
• Dealer misrepresentation
• Salvage title

I have been called upon numerous times to be a Mediator and Arbitrator for insurance and legal disputes.

On the stand testimony can be very intimidating to most people, and opposition attorneys play on that fear. I am confident and relaxed on the stand and cannot be tricked or confused. Years of experience enable me to respond to the questions without stress. I have the ability to explain complicated cases in simple terms, easily understood by the judge or jury. My testimony has been the deciding factor in most of my cases.