Treasure Hunting at Home

It’s true that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!  In my line of work, I spend my days deciphering what has value in estates, what is to be sent to donation, and what has no value.  Not long ago, I was asked to go through a home to evaluate its contents.  Many of the items were not in the best shape due to mold and mildew.  Many items were from the turn of the 20th century or before, and many of these had value.

Imagine the surprise when I found two old pottery vases in the basement that turned out to be a fantastic treasure!  When I mentioned to the executor that the vases had value, he was very surprised.  “They were headed for donation drop off because they are ugly,” he said.

This wonderful story is a glowing example that an appraiser cannot possibly know everything, but will use the knowledge he or she has to further investigate.  As it turned out after further research, the pieces were considerably more value than even the fine arts gallery realized.  One vase ended up selling for $57,500 because it possessed the marks of a very rare artist.  The second piece sold for $4,000.  Not a bad return on investment for a one hour visit from an estate expert.

In this case, it was a very happy ending for all the beneficiaries.  This follows the good and solid advice that you should know what you have before you sell or donate anything, even if it appears to be junk in your eyes.  Especially when dissolving the estate of a loved one, many things are sold or thrown out in haste to simply “get rid of them”. 

Knowing the value of what you have in your home will empower you against those that aim to exploit you, and they are everywhere.   Offer your children or heirs a clear understanding, so these heirlooms will not be sold at a garage sale one day for $1.00.  I can’t tell you how many fabulous items are sold at garage sales for pennies on the dollar. 

In this case, an ounce of prevention really paid off for this family!

© 2009 Julie Hall

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