The Family Estate & Heirlooms: What is Their Value?

What it is NOT: a price.

By Julie Hall

Let’s start by addressing what it is not. you see on the internet or in a store. That is only a numerical figure someone conjured up, very often based on their personal sentiment towards the item, or a price they once saw in a book. The economy pretty much tossed that out the window. It’s not the story the family handed down for generations that a particular piece is “very valuable.” Maybe it is, but most likely, it’s not. Sure it’s old, but that alone doesn’t guarantee value. It may just be old.

Value is a very personal thing. People want to believe what they have (or what grandma has) is valuable. Price is determined by supply and demand, as well as the collector market. As I have often said, there must be a demand for what you have. You might have an antique china set from grandma – so does everyone else. The supply is bountiful, but the demand simply isn’t there and this means the price is not going to meet your expectations, regardless of what they paid for it. Those days are long gone.

If you have something rare (and most people think they do), you will need a professional personal property appraiser to confirm that, and also recommend where it should be sold. For the record, “rare” means extraordinary, like a flawless diamond, and most of us do not have that. What we have, and what we inherited, is a lot of stuff that is good and useable, but not necessarily valuable.

When in doubt, bring in someone like myself so that you can move forward and make good, solid decisions for your personal property. Set your expectations accordingly so you will not be disappointed, and may, in fact, be pleasantly surprised.