Know the value of your household goods so you can protect your home by purchasing an appropriate amount of personal-property insurance. Understanding current value for your items also allows you to make the most accurate tax deductions if you donate any items to charity. Charitable tax deductions require using the fair market value for your household items, while personal-property insurance may be based on purchase price, fair market value or estimated replacement value, depending on the insurer's requirements.
Things You'll Need:
- Spreadsheet software (optional)
- Calculator (optional)
List every item you wish to include in your value estimate on a piece of paper or in a single column in computer spreadsheet software. For insurance inventories, include all items with high monetary value, as well as items that are easily lost or stolen, such as CDs and DVDs.
Note the condition of used items on your list. "Like new" represents items that are in pristine condition, while "Good" denotes items with a few visible flaws. Use "Fair" for items that are serviceable but cosmetically flawed and "Poor" for items with heavy damage.
Cross any "Poor" and "Fair" condition items off your list, as they are not generally deductible on your taxes or replaceable through insurance. "Fair" quality high-end items may be deductible if an expert appraiser certifies their value at over $500, according to the IRS.
Browse the websites of three major stores (or go into three physical stores) that carry each item on your list or similar models. Add the three prices together and divide by three to get an average current market value. If you know your original purchase price and the item is less than a year old, use this as one of the three prices in your average.
Write that value down next to the item and label it "Replacement value."
Browse local thrift stores and check the prices of comparable items for household goods such as kitchenware, small electronics and clothing. Write down the average price for each type of item you wish to value. Calculate the best average by adding three similar prices together and dividing by three.
Write the average price next to each item and label it "Resale price." The IRS requires that you base household-goods donation deductions on the items' fair market value. Current resale pricing of similar items is one IRS-recommended way of determining this value.
Hire a qualified appraiser to estimate the value of fine art and expensive jewelry. The IRS only allows deductions for these items based on expert appraisals; resale value and comparable item averages are not allowable as the basis for a tax deduction. Expert appraisal will also get you the most accurate value for personal-property insurance.
Anne Hirsh has been writing and editing for over 10 years. She has hands-on experience in cooking, visual arts and theater as well as writing experience covering wellness and animal-related topics. She also has extensive research experience in marketing, small business, Web development and SEO. Hirsh has a bachelor's degree in technical theater and English and post-baccalaureate training in writing and computer software.