Thursday, March 29, 2012

Popularity and Trends; they do impact price and value!

I just finished reading an article in the internet newspaper Huffington Post’s column “The Stylelist” about obsolete furniture and decorating items; while I don’t agree entirely with the author on her identification of “obsolete” items, it did get me thinking about current popularity trends and how those trends impact value.

Chippendale Style Table

Value in today’s market is driven purely by what people are willing to pay for an item, and when items are out of vogue or out of style, their value drops. It’s simply that supply and demand thing; if there is a lot of one type of furniture available with little demand, prices drop. That’s why both the insurance replacement cost and fair market value of dining room pieces of furniture is currently low. Many young adults don’t have dining rooms, or are using them for offices or fitness rooms. In addition, demand for all furniture is down due to lack of new homes, lack of second homes and the current empty home inventory.

I was recently working with a client who was downsizing and moving into a smaller home; in her dining room was a hand crafted hunt board by a major furniture manufacturer. She decided to sell the huntboard. This contemporary piece, while it was of superb quality and style, had depreciated since its original purchase, and is now worth only a fraction of its original price. There is not a huge demand for used late 20th century handcrafted sideboards, and therefore the relative value of the piece is low. There is demand at reduced prices, and we were able to sell the piece for the fair market value. However, that fair market value was lower than the value would have been four years ago before the housing market crashed and before dining rooms became out of fashion!

Traditional Dining Room Furniture

The trend is the same with dining room tables, dining room upholstered chairs and china cabinets; without dining rooms to fill , the demand is lessened. Drop leaf tables are another unpopular item right now. When the leaves are folded down, most are not wide enough to accommodate a chair on each side, making them not practical for nooks or small dining areas. So, you use them as decorative pieces in hallways or living rooms, or use them opened as a full table. As a result, values are greatly diminished. Is dining room furniture obsolete, like ringer washing machines? No, not obsolete, just not as popular as in the past.

Desireable Chinese ceramic bowl

If you are currently downsizing, the current lifestyle trends will impact the value of items you liquidate. Many collectibles are hot, others are not. Glassware and crystal is not popular right now, but Asian ceramics and Asian collectibles are in demand. And the list goes on and on. On the flip side, if you are moving into a new house, there are tremendous values to be had on 20th century furniture and other decorative items…..all driven by current popularity trends!

Vicky Nash Shaw, ISA CAPP
Certified Antique and Art Appraiser 919 475-6930


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