What Factors Affect Value?


We want to believe that our possessions have exquisite value and will bring much money one day when we are ready to sell.  We are disappointed to learn that the heirlooms of mom and grandmother are not worth much anymore, despite the family lore.  What can affect the current value of personal property?

  • The Economy

If the economy is soft, the values for most personal possessions on the secondary market are going to suffer, like everything else.  Today’s trends are all about simplification, so the market is flooding with traditional household furnishings from our homes and our parents’ homes

  • Market trends

Are the items currently sought after and desirable to have at this time, or are they just good, usable items?

  • Value

What is something really worth?  Not what you paid for it, and not the value on an old appraisal report.  Ultimately, it is worth what someone is willing to give you for it.  Here’s where it helps to have a professional who can research your items and guide you towards achieving maximum proceeds.  Searching the internet for “values” only produces asking prices, not genuine sales comparables, not what the items actually sold for.  Professionals know how to search for your items and what they are currently selling for.

  • Popularity and Style

An item may be attractive, but it might not have much value.  On the other hand, the most unsuspecting, and often unattractive, items may have more value than you know.  Much has changed in the marketplace; people have changed and values have changed, along with what’s hot and what’s not.

  • Changing lifestyles

Traditional, dark “brown furniture” (as it’s called in the industry) does not have the appeal it did for our parents or grandparents.  It may be in good condition, but children and grandchildren don’t like the dark brown.  They are buying these pieces inexpensively to paint, because the market is saturated with these pieces.

  • Generational differences

Grandmother’s cherished floral china from the Depression era is completely different from what a 22-year old woman wants today.  Generation X and Y want a simple, clean, European look for their homes and no clutter or knick-knacks.  They shop at places like IKEA and Pottery Barn.  The Boomer is caught somewhere in the middle, still somewhat traditional, not as much as their parents and not as indifferent as their children.

  • Junk or something more?

Proper identification is the key.  The television shows would have you believe there is treasure in every home or estate.  While you may find interesting collectibles, not every home contains a treasure of significant monetary value.  Yet, you just never know what you could have in your possession.

  • Law of supply and demand

This law is always in effect, for everything.  Too much supply and not enough demand causes the prices to fall, such as all our older loved ones’ glassware, porcelain, and collectibles.  They are in abundance in every household, but few truly want them in 2015.  On the flip side, anything in demand but in small supply will usually sell higher, because it’s desired and not readily available.  The internet makes the world very small.  What used to be rare and hard to find is now in abundance on all major online auction sites.  Suddenly, there are 1,956 figurines just like mom’s.

We have little control over most of these factors, but that’s why items are no longer commanding what they used to.

Two recommendations from the expert:

  1. Keep your expectations reasonable.
  2. Hire a professional to advise you on values.

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

One thought on “What Factors Affect Value?

  1. The generational factor is one I’m dealing with now as I deal with my mother’s estate. I have no children and the nieces and nephews look at me cross eyed when I ask them if there is anything they’d like to have from Grandma’s house. In some ways I envy the freedom of that choice but in other ways it makes me sad. I have cherished items that were my great great grandmothers but no one to pass it on to. Will it all end up at Goodwill after I’m gone? Not ready to part with everything but tempted to donate some to a few favorite non profits and let them get the benefit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *