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Post Info TOPIC: Assigning Value to the items being inventoried
JD

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Assigning Value to the items being inventoried


As I stated elsewhere in this board, when I do inventories, I tell the home or business owner that I'm not an appraiser. If they want an item value listed in the report, it is their responsibility to assign a value to it. Due to liability reasons, I will NOT suggest values.

Since insurance companies assign their own values using various tables and formulas, the value we place in the inventory really only serves to let the client know where they stand on their insurance. Most will find they are underinsured.

-- Edited by JD at 17:00, 2009-01-21

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Ann

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I talked to my insurance agent about this a year or so ago, and he told me that the most important thing for me to do to protect myself is to make sure that I get commercial insurance protection with "errors and omission" coverage. This will cover you in the case of you under-estimating a customers item and they want to hold you liable. My policy cost apx $900.00 per year. Also, the paperwork that Fred has in the Home Journal Business Kit goes over some of this too.

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Ann Clark
Gulf States Home Inventory Services
ANV

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My thoughts on this are that you likely don't need a value on these items because that is what the insurance company will do when someone makes a claim.  Even if we put a value on stuff  they will have a an appraiser look at each item when something actually happens.   The other thing is could the client not take the disk to their insurance company and have them look at it and tell them if they have enough coverage already and if not then they can suggest they get more coverage?  I'd hate to put a value on something and have my client think they have enough coverage only to find out I was way off and they aren't covered for everything.  Has anyone talked to any insurance companies and asked what they thought?

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There are times when you are asked to include the values. When I meet with the customer to review the working copy of the report we go over the major concerns about the values. When the customer gives me the value or estimate of the item, in the report where you find the line for "Appraiser," I place the words "Self Estimate" and then place the value in the space provided. This gives them the numbers they want or need to evaluate their home owner's policy. We also know that depreciation will affect the final value. The value may increase for antiques and other valuables as well. But this gives them a starting point

When you need to include values, this may be the way to do it. Use the phrase "Self Estimate" in the space where the appraiser should be identified.

Also, in my "Recommendations" paragraph at the front of the final report, I recommend that all artwork, collectibles, antiques, etc. should be appraised by an appraiser licensed to do those specific items. Ethically, I cannot do less for the customer than point them in the right direction to get the valuations as best they can.

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George A. Childs
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Quality Home Inventory Service, Inc.
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I strongly agree that it is VERY important to enter values into the software so they have totals to assist them in determining if they are properly insured.  We don't worry about entering replacement costs because the replacement cost is going to be determined at the time of the loss by the adjuster.  We simply enter the purchase prices to give them a place to start.  Unless it is an item that increases in value, like jewelry or antiques, then they will never need more than what they paid for it. 

Whether you have them fill out something prior to the inventory where they can enter purchase prices, have them walk around with you the entire time giving you all of that info, or sit down with them at the end, it is vital that you enter in some kind of value.  We never enter in a value ourselves, it always comes from the customer.  You would probably be ok coming up with your own values if you had a strong disclaimer, but it's something we don't even want to deal with.  We just make sure that the customer knows the benefits to giving us the purchase prices, and if they aren't committed to taking that extra time to give us the purchas prices and getting the best value from their inventory, then that's their decision. 

Kim B.
Guardian Home Inventory services

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I'm catching this post kind of late, but being new to the industry, I'd say that as long as you are covered by an inclusive disclaimer, estimating the value of your client's items is a crucial part of this business. As others have said, this is a strong selling point with the client and insurance agent that is working for you.

The client gets a ballpark figure of what their possessions are worth so that they may evaluate whether or not they have enough coverage. The insurance agents benefit when the client walks in to increase their policy's value. Unless the insurance agent can see this benefit, I'm not sure why they would help an inventory professional in the first place. Having each one of their client's walk in to increase their insurance policy due to the inventory professional's efforts, IS a motivator to sell your service.

I don't think that anyone is looking for appraiser status here, but as a homeowner, I'd rather have some declared value than none at all. If the insurance adjuster needs to re-adjust the figure at the time of loss, then so be it. Actually, the value on any given item will probably have to be re-adjusted anyway due to depreciation.

-- Edited by cmvsm at 16:46, 2008-06-03

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Assigning values to content is very importent so that the client may have a actual ball amount of their assets. After a disaster, when a public adjuster has an inventory done, they will assign prices to items. At the same time, the inventory is to be signed by the INSURED, and it is on them if the values are appropiate.
In residential situations, you find the MSRP retail price of items, and list it. If the client ever needs the inventory after a disaster, the adjuster will simply factor in depreciation on each item to come up with costs. Sometimes, if its a small disaster, the insurance company will provide a cleaning allowence for the items, and in that case, value does not come into play.
In retail situations, you should input both retail and their costs per item, because some insurance policies cover retail, and cover replacement value.
I dont see the real benefit of a home inventory specialist if they cant even come up with prices, to me, thats the most valueable aspect, so that the insured can be sure that they have the right coverage. And just so you know, in some cases, when they are co-insured, they will be penilized if their total content value is over the amount that they are insured!! (hint- another benefit that you can offer)

If you cant find prices, contact an appraiser for antiques and jewerly! You can add that to your service and bill the client directly. Why would they want to deal with all that **** after their house has been destroyed?

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TD

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No you are not. The risk is too high to assign a value on an item. Leave it to the experts like I do.
Violet

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Violet Bienek
Unique Inventories, LTD

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Hi,

I am the newbie on the block and have given much thought to assigning value to anything.  I know how to take a picture of an item, merge it into the software, and present a professional product to the customer.  I do not know how to perform brain surgery, or replace an engine, why would I want to estimate or place a value on an item.  That is something a professional can do.  I see to much legal risk in giving any type of estimate.  Am I wrong to feel this way??

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This is really crazy about assigning a value to an item. First off, an estimate is good enough. It gives a ball park number. Second, it really doesn't matter to have the exact amount. The reason is because it depends upon what type of coverage the client has. Is it replacement cost or actual value. In either case an estimate is ok. Reason, the insurance company can tell if the estimated value is way off. They can tell from the pictures you take and they have many more sources and experience in placing values than any of us have.

Don't get too stress out about it. If a client wants to have a professional appraisal on an antique, then he needs to get a certified appraiser. Most inventory professionals are not certified.

Use the KISS methos. Keep it simple, keep it simple.

Violet

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Violet Bienek
Unique Inventories, LTD

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I've been very concerned about the time clients will have to take do complete this process. Can I really sell this service just on photo and written documentation? What is the value of the inventory with little or no dollar values assigned? How much does the average person know about the value of items? And, I'm not sure it's cost effective for me to assign values (with a disclaimer).

As I am planning to purchase the software by Fred, I know that I can tell clients that they can assign value after the receive their report by using the client software.

Kelly in Boston



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Kelly Scott
Secure Inventories
Kim

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i always suggest that the customer have a certified appraiser on antiques! I work with severel! I also state clearly that we are not appraisers and we are going with the clients word.Also do you all charge to look stuff up on the internet??

Our reports can be used for several reasons but i feel my company is there to document the info and take the photos! If a real value is need I get a professional to do it this way I am not accountable!!!

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Kim Dauria\Southern Homes Inventory

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Ari, you're right; we definately don't want to be offering value advice on items and have it come back to haunt us later.  Just getting everything documented and photographed is the main concern, because having this information for an insurance claim is just one of the benefits to having a home inventory, but it's not the only reason to have one.

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Darin Griffith
SEMO Home Inventory

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If they client doesn't know they estimated cost or replacement value, we keep it blank. We are not certified appraisers and will not give a personal estimate. We have found too that insurnace adjusters have programs and ever appraisers that they use when it comes time for a claim. They are also pretty good about taking the clients word on the cost.

Keep in mind the most important thing is to get everything photographed and documented. Then if a claim is ever made you wont forget what you had. The specifics about the contents can always be researched later.

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Ari Dorfman

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Lucia,

You are basically concerned with replacement price with something like those blinds.  If the client doesn't have a clue do a little research and talk about it with the client.  That's where having an idea about how much things cost, like an insurance agent has to know, comes in really handy!

I would recommend that you read my posts in the Education & Professionalism rooms on this forum to get more of my thoughts on where we are going as Home Inventory Professionals.



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Darin Griffith
SEMO Home Inventory

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Another question. Say the house came with blinds that have been there for 6 years and is a discontinued price. And you can't get in touch with the previous owners to ask what the value of the blinds are. What do you do then? Do you make a note that the blinds came with the house?

Thanks.

Lucia

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Hi Mike:

Sorry if this is a stupid question but what do you mean "tailor your service to help fill a void in your community." I'm hoping that some of my clients are pretty good with their memory or can at least tell me what the estimated price is. All in all, I am excited and very nervous about going out there but eventually, I'll be great at it and it'll be like second nature.

Thanks for your post and advise.

Have a great day!
Lucia

-- Edited by miggy12 at 10:38, 2007-06-06

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 Hi this is Mike I actually meet with the clients and do the field work. There are some antiques and other sentimental items that a dollar value can not be placed upon.
 After doing several inventories and meeting with many many insurance agents we have adapted our inventory process to conform more around the guidelines for our state. If the client has no idea on a price or it was a gift we find the price on a similar replacement item. Some times this involves a bit of searching on the internet. Believe it or not ebay is a great resource for finding current market value on antiques.
  We have a disclaimer on a summary report we provide advising that we do not warranty the value of any of the clients items. A home inventory is a thorough documentation service. To do appraisals requires a great amount of expertise and certifications.
  If your just getting started I would suggest meeting with your local insurance agents to see how you can tailor your service to help fill a void in your community.

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Hi Kelly,

Then what do you do if the clients have alot of furniture or collectibles that were given to them as a gift and you can't find it on the internet to assign an estimated value?  Say it's a table from Brasil and is pretty old.  And you can't find it on the internet.  What does one do about that kind of situation?

TIA for your help.

Lucia

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Ok Kelly,
I will try to answer as many as your questions as I can. FIrst off my husband tells people that he has a few hard questions for them, How much did you pay for it, Where did you buy it and When did you buy it?. He tries to be as relaxed with them as possible as many people do not know the exact amounts or time. We just ask for a basic time frame and amount. If they still do not have an amount we will look it up on the internet and give it an estimated value. We put this "Estimated Value" description in the Notes section. THis is just for the customer so they have a general idea of the replacement cost if a total loss occurs. Dont' try to stress out your clients. Just get as much info as needed from them. I have learned many of them have no problem with you calling them back with questions. Good luck and I hope this helps.

Kelly
www.southwesthomeinventory.com



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I have not done an inventory yet. I am still in my planning stages. I've reviewed the demos and I am very impressed with the capabilities of the database. I am certain that I will be purchasing the package.

Here is my dilema. I've been a professional organizer for over 10 years. I can tell you with certainty that people are disorganized.

How many people really have receipts for their 'stuff'? Or if they have receipts for the big ticket items, there is still the potential to have hundreds of items with no receipts. And even if they have receipts, do they know where they are?

What is the value of an inventory with no receipts and no warranties? How do I sell this to the average person such as the ones described? Who assigns value to the items?

How many people can remember when they bought something and where?

What is your experience with this?

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Kelly Scott
Secure Inventories
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