By Andrew Deogracias
From the author of The Piano Book – the must-have reference text for technicians and dealers alike – Practical Piano Valuation is a newly-released book that is sure to become a bookshelf staple for anyone active in the piano tech industry.
Written by Larry Fine and Steve Cohen, the book is an invaluable tool for technicians to learn how to help their clients buy and sell pianos. The authors do a great job setting the stage by defining key terms and concepts, all while using a practical, matter-of-fact voice that makes it easy to digest. They clearly distinguish between retail value, fair market value, comparable sales value, replacement value, and many other approaches to quantifying a piano’s worth. They also consider the myriad of situations beyond retail and private market selling, such as insurance claims, tax deductions, and others. It breaks down best practices for valuation (using the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisers Practice) with regard to bias, confidentiality, professionalism, and others.
On a more practical note, Fine and Cohen detail how to do an inspection, what to look for in each element of the piano, and how the results affect value. They even provide a thorough 6-step valuation process, which includes important pre- and post-inspection procedures, as well as what exactly to include in your Valuation Report (I know I'll be updating my report template based on this section). There are resources for researching comparable sales, some of which you might already expect to see, while others are new concepts which I plan to explore.
They also put their theories to practice by describing six different valuation scenarios, including an insurance claim, retail purchase with trade-in, and selling a rare brand as a private party. These were particularly helpful for applying the learned concepts into realistic situations.
What is perhaps the most impressive section of the book is the Depreciation Tables in the Appendix created through statistical analysis of 400+ PianoMart sales. In the future, I will definitely be returning to the Appendices for my own valuations; I always found the Piano Buyer tables useful, but this study slices the data into much more detail. The authors explain key concepts behind the data, the results, and what they mean for usage in your valuations. I'm somewhat experienced with reviewing statistical analyses, but I still found it helpful how the authors broke down concepts like standard deviation, and what it means for this analysis on depreciation. It was easier to read than anything I can remember from statistics class or similar studies. These depreciation tables are worth the price of the book alone for how it can be applied to piano valuations.
With a skill like piano valuation, technicians can become brokers for any current or future clients who may be in the market for a piano. It will help you match clients with quality pianos that will meet their needs and equip you with the resources to confidently discuss, appraise, evaluate, and compare pianos of all different backgrounds, brands, qualities, ages, and conditions. I expect this book will play an important role in technician education for years to come.