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For What It’s Worth: How to Estimate Personal Property Value

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Mar 29, 2012
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Take a look around your house. Everything you own has some type of value, even if it's mostly sentimental. If you're planning to sell some of your stuff, purchase renters or homeowner's insurance, donate your possessions to charity or even file bankruptcy, you need to know what your property is worth. Knowing what your material and personal financial assets are will help you manage your household budget more effectively.

Estimating the value of your personal property can be accomplished in just a few simple steps.

Step 1: Make a list of what you have

Before you can get an idea of what your things are worth, you need to know what you actually have. You can create a fancy spreadsheet or simply use a pen and paper to create an inventory of your personal property. Pick a room and make a list of all the things in it to which you wish to attach a value. Beside each item, make a note of when you bought it and its current condition.

Step 2: Note how much you paid for each item

Once you've completed your personal inventory list, go over each item and make a note of how much you paid for it. It helps to have your original receipts, especially if you're estimating personal property values for charitable donations you plan to deduct on your taxes or you want to exempt some of your property in a bankruptcy filing. Based on the age of the item, estimate what it would cost to replace it today. For some things, the replacement cost may be higher and for others, it may be much lower.

Step 3: Comparison shop

Chances are, you already have a set idea of what your things are worth, but that doesn't mean everyone will agree. Check out sites like eBay or Craigslist to see how much similar items are going for. While this won't give you a definite figure of your property's worth, you can get an idea of what price range you're working with. Compare the current price range for similar items with your estimated replacement cost to arrive at a reasonable estimate for your property's value.

TIPS:

  • Consult a professional appraiser or your county tax assessor if you need more exact values of your property's value.
  • Keep a backup copy of your property inventory in a fireproof safe and update it regularly as you acquire new things.

Rebecca Lake is a freelance writer and virtual assistant living in the southeast. Lake received her master’s degree in criminal justice from Charleston Southern University.


The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on your taxes, your investments, the law or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.

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