Estate items hold sentimental value. But are they worth hard cash?

by | Mar 23, 2015 | Blog

It’s a common dilemma: It’s time for your elderly parents to leave the home they’ve inhabited in for 40 years and move to a different living situation. You will have to put their home on the market – but first you’ll need to de-clutter.

What can you do with all of the items they’ve collected over the years?

antique market by Zanthia, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  Zanthia 

It’s a problem that often comes with a shocking reality: Many of those things, while filled with sentimental meaning for a family, have little or no cash value.

“Value is determined by supply and demand,” Denver antique dealer Jack Wartell recently told the Denver Post. In the case of antiques, “supply is up, and demand is down, so prices are lower.”

Wartell notes that younger people —he labels them the “Ikea generation” — aren’t as interested in buying old things as their predecessors were. “I’m constantly amazed at how quickly kids want to get rid of things. Thirty years ago, there was a lot more coveting or respecting of your grandmother’s jewelry or a painting she loved.”

Angie Becker, president of the Antiques & Collectibles National Association, concurred. “The baby boomers are selling merchandise, but Generation Y isn’t buying,” she told the Denver Post.

The result is that many of the items your parents have collected throughout the years and from previous generations – silver services, china, old furniture, vases, candlesticks and more – may be harder to divest than you first imagine.

If you’re faced with this situation, it’s best to be realistic. First, find a trustworthy estate salesperson who can assess the property and tell you what is marketable and what isn’t. This person may offer to buy certain items or can refer you to others who will. He or she may also suggest you hold an estate sale and can advise you on which items to keep for such an event.

Once the saleable items have been identified, it’s time to harden yourself about the rest: Donate the other items to charity, give them to friends, and when all else fails, take a deep breath and steel yourself. Then discard. As painful as it is, sometimes it’s the only way to move forward.

Contact us if you need advice about how to handle an estate sale, and we can guide you through the process.

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