Accounting for Law
Estates & Wills & Trusts

Do you have gems or junk in your house?

By Ian Hull

How much are your non-financial assets worth? If you’re planning your estate, it’s an important consideration, especially if you plan to make specific bequests.

But here’s the issue: the value of non-financial assets, such as furniture, art, and other collectibles, can change dramatically in just a few short years. Antique furniture is a great example.

An example from the New York Times – in 2002, a New York City auction house sold a set of eight George III-style carved mahogany chairs for $8,000. In 2016, a similar set sold for $350. It wasn’t a fluke. Prices for 18th and 19th-century furniture are down about 80 per cent from their highs just a couple of decades ago. This article provides a great analysis of the changing times. 

That’s bad news if your house is full of antique furniture, but if you’re a contrarian looking for a buying opportunity? Times couldn’t be better.

What items hold their value?

Yes, collect what you love – that’s rule number one, but if you’re looking for an edge in terms of value retention, this article from online journalism site Next Avenue provides some tips.

Here are a few from the article to consider:

  • Quality, one-of-a-kind or limited quantity pieces handmade by a skilled artist or craftsperson: Even with high-quality original art, no one can predict future values, so diversify by artist and buy what you love.
  • High-quality items made by notable firms: Designer items – think Hermès or Tiffany – have stood the test of time and are more likely to hold their value or increase their value if kept in good condition.
  • Collectibles that remind us of our youth: This includes comics, toys, books – just about anything. But timing your sale is everything, with the best prices usually 25 to 35 years after they became popular.
  • Items that are made from material of value: The value of precious metals like gold and silver change over time, but they always have a liquid market value. So, items made from precious metals will always hold value based on the material it’s made from alone.

And if you’re looking for a bit of fun, this article highlights 10 types of collectibles that may surprise you in terms of value. The list includes items from Disney and McDonald’s, hot wheels cars, board games and maps.

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