Antique Values

How much is this worth?  

This question is often asked, then answered.  Antique values and vintage values can vary greatly.  Items don't generally have set prices.  You can't order them from a catalog where there's a choice of different size or color.  You can't purchase them in quantities at a set wholesale price from a distributor. It's more complicated than that.

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Let's start with the definition of Fair Market Value or FMV (thanks to the AAA)

  • FMV is usually for IRS purposes and is defined by IRS Section 1.170 and 20.2031 (b) as “the price at which the property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or to sell and both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts.

What does this mean in terms of values?  Let me give you a few examples.

# 1- Store. A customer comes in and finds a piece of sterling silver that is priced on the counter. She likes it and thinks it's a good fit for her collection, but wants to think about it.  The store owner likes the piece and is confident she'll have no trouble selling it. This means she's probably not going to come down in price.   She says, no problem and doesn't offer a discount to facilitate a quick sale. Both parties part ways.  The store owner continues on, the potential customer goes home to think.  A few days later she comes back and purchases the piece.  So this situation fits the FMV definition. She was a willing buyer, and the owner was a willing seller.  Neither were being forced to sell or buy at that moment.  This is the situation where you should get the highest price you are ever going to get for something.

Situations that change values. Whether it's value is needed for insurance purposes, value to sell it at your garage sale, value to buy it, value at auction, these values constantly vary for many different reasons.

# 2- Estate sale.  You have a set amount of time where the contents of a house need to be emptied out, they are under a time crunch so the "neither being under any compulsion to buy or to sell" Doesn't apply here.  The seller definitely is under the compulsion to sell whatever is in the home in a set amount of time.  So in this case, the contents will not sell for FMV.  This is called a "liquidation value".   which is defined by the American Appraisal Association as-

  • LIQUIDATION VALUE: This value is based on the price realized in a sale situation under moderately forced or limiting conditions and under time constraints. This action may be initiated by the owner or a crediting institution. It is implicit in this definition that Liquidation Value will generally be lower than other types of valuation.
 #3- A known buyer of high end furniture is approached by a person in possession of a rare valuable piece of antique furniture.  The seller needs money quick.  This is called a "forced liquidation value".  This is a situation where comparables don't matter it's who's willing to buy the fastest for the amount needed.
  • FORCED LIQUIDATION VALUE (FLV): This is the lowest range “NET” value, usually for a quick and forced sale purpose. It is defined as “the most probable price in terms of cash, or other precisely revealed terms, for which the property would change hands if sold immediately, without regard to the relevant market place.
#4 Vintage Market or Antique show.  Shows are driven by time, usually a weekend.  But there is another show next weekend. Today, customers exchange info with sellers at shows and often make decisions after that time person and sales occur.  Discounts may be worked out.  This definition is probably the one that makes the most sense for the vintage seller.  Market Value. It could also go in the direction of liquidation value depending on the seller and their motivation to sell.
Value- MARKET VALUE (MV): This value is the most probable price at which a property would sell in a competitive and open marketplace where the sale needs to be consummated within a specified time frame and neither the buyer nor the seller are under a compulsion to buy or sell. In addition, the object to be sold needs to have had sufficient market exposure for a reasonable amount of time and payment is made in terms of cash in American dollars or comparable financial arrangements are made. This term is essentially the same as fair market value except this term does not have the provision stating that there is no compulsion to buy or sell within a specified period of time.
Bottom line.  Value depends on the situation and can change for many reasons. Just because you see something on the Antiques Roadshow and the value is high and you have something similar doesn't mean that's the amount on the check you'll receive.
How Antique Values are Determined
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