How to Assess Worth of Valuables

Preparing for a firesale to raise funds.

It’s difficult to assess the value of your valuables. The age old saying, “… one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” couldn’t be more true. Sentimentality always skews the value assessment.

Here are five no-cost valuation methods you may choose to engage. You may find there are secondary benefits to this exercise. One is to ensure you have an accurate inventory of personal effects for insurance purposes.

In order to prepare for these exercises, I strongly recommend that you preform the personal asset inventory. If you have a portable voice recorder and Dragon Naturally Speaking, you have it made. If not, you have some work ahead of you. Ultimately, you should migrate your inventory to Microsoft Excel, which will allow you to quickly calculate your net worth.

Option One: Ebay Valuation

Perhaps the best form of valuation is to take your inventory and use it to look up like items that have SOLD recently on Ebay. This is similar to having your real estate professional run comparisons to help you price your house. Key factors here are that you are looking at things that have SOLD, not someone’s delusional fantasy. Most likely, you will be a bit disappointed. However, this is probably the most accurate and timely way to valuate personal property.

Option Two: Tag Sale Valuation

Tag sale professionals can place values on your items in preparation for a tag sale. They will be most unhappy if they go through the appraisal process and you do not go through with the sale. Even seasoned tag sale professionals have a margin of error. In my opinion, this is most likely the second best form of appraisal.

Option Three: Pawn Shop Valuation

Pawn shops will typically loan at 10% of the market value of an item. This form of valuation will allow you assess key items, but is extremely time consuming and you’ll need to multiply by ten when your done with their appraisal.

Option Four: Craig’s List Guess and By Golly

You can take your inventory and shop it on Craig’s List. The complication here is you are still going to have to factor the delusional pricing that some people practice. My suggestion is to find two or three like items and use the average. This is more work than the Ebay method and also less accurate.

Option Five: Research the Items in Pricing Guides

If you exercise this option, you’re really desperate. This represents a significant investment in time for research. You’ll no doubt go through hundreds of guides (you’ll find many at the Public Library). Some can be found on the internet.

In summary, there is no quick and easy way to appraise your personal effects. Option One, the Ebay valuation, is the quickest, simplest, and most accurate. The exception here is if you have rare, or unique items not commonly available. Then you’ll most likely resort to Option Five and the Pricing Guides.

Be prepared to be sadly disappointed in the overall valuation. Remember that furniture (other than collectible antiques) loses almost 50% of its value when you take it home. The same is true with other household goods. Clothing is often even more depressing. Good luck.