How to Determine Fair Market Value of Household Items

by Alia Nikolakopulos

    You can determine your fair market value of a household item by using one of several item valuation methods. If you donate household items to charity, you’ll value your items using guidelines that are accepted by the Internal Revenue Service. However, you’ll use a different method if you’re preparing household items for sale, reporting casualties or thefts, or simply satisfying your own general curiosity.

    General Fair Market Values

    Step 1

    Make a list of the household items you wish to value. Include any information that may help value your item, such as its condition, any serial numbers, signatures or hallmarks, and make or model names.

    Step 2

    Use Internet market websites to value common household items. Sites such as eBay, craigslist and national retailers list current retail prices for virtually any common item. Prices on these sites represent what the average consumer is willing to pay for the same item. When possible, search for an exact match for your item. In some cases, this may not be possible, so look for prices on similar items that have the same wear-and-tear and features.

    Step 3

    Use appraisers to value collectibles, antiques and jewelry. The fair market value of valuable household items typically appreciates over time and may be worth more at present value than at initial purchase. Use an appraiser from a national organization such as the Appraisal Institute and the American Society of Appraisers. Members of these groups have demonstrated knowledge and expertise in specific areas and are bound by specific codes of conduct and ethical responsibility.

    Fair Market Value of Donations

    Step 1

    Make a list of all household items you donated. You can deduct the fair market value of your donations when the items are in good, usable condition.

    Step 2

    Download a donation value guide from a national charity that accepts household item donations. The Salvation Army, Goodwill Industries and ARC Thrift Store websites all provide this type of guide.

    Step 3

    Locate each type of household item you donated on the value guide list. You’ll see a range of acceptable values for each type of item. If an item was in good condition, choose a value at the lower end of the range. If an item was in excellent or like-new condition; or was a high-end product, choose a value from the higher end of the range.

    About the Author

    With a background in taxation, Alia Nikolakopulos specializes in business and personal finance topics. She is an IRS enrolled agent pursuing a Bachelor of Science in accounting and journalism at the Metropolitan State University of Denver.

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