Sunday, October 31, 2010



STUART, Florida - Throughout the State of Florida one can find almost every type of vehicle. In addition to motor vehicles there are trailers which are used for anything from hauling citrus to actual residences. Motorcycles, race cars, restored antique automobiles and RVs are some other types of vehicles we typically evaluate. Some of the reasons that owners of these vehicles seek appraisals are insurance, donations, bankruptcies, divorces, purchases and claims. The terminology used for such a report is a Stated Value Appraisal. The methodology typically used for such appraisals is called Fair Market Value.

Fair Market Value is the price that property would sell for on the open market. It is the price that would be agreed on between a willing buyer and a willing seller. Sometimes, however, it is difficult to determine FMV because of an absence of comparable items to base it on.

An arm's-length offer to buy the motor vehicle close to the valuation date may help to prove its value if the person making the offer was willing and able to complete the transaction. To rely on an offer, you should be able to show proof of the offer and the specific amount to be paid. Offers to buy the vehicle will help to determine value if the other vehicle is reasonably similar to the vehicle being appraised.

The replacement cost is the amount it would cost to replace the item on the valuation date. Often there is no relationship between the replacement cost and the FMV. If the supply of a particular vehicle is more or less than the demand for it, the replacement cost becomes less important.

To determine the replacement cost of the vehicle, find the “estimated replacement cost new.” Then subtract from this figure an amount for depreciation due to it's the physical condition and obsolescence. You should be able to show the relationship between the depreciated replacement cost and the FMV, as well as how you arrived at the “estimated replacement cost new.” Remember, there is a difference between Fair Market Value and replacement cost.

Generally, the weight given to an expert's opinion depends on the knowledge and competence of the expert and the thoroughness with which the opinion is supported by experience and facts. For an expert's opinion to deserve much weight, the facts must support the opinion.
Using sales of comparable vehicles is an important method for determining the FMV of  your vehicle. However, the amount of weight given to a sale depends on the degree of similarity between the comparable vehicle and the vehicle in question. The degree of similarity must be close enough so that this selling price would have been given consideration by reasonably well-informed buyers or sellers of the vehicle.

The sale price of the vehicle itself in an arm's-length transaction in an open market is often the best evidence of its value. When you rely on sales of a comparable vehicle, the sales must have been made in an open market. If those sales were made in a market that was artificially supported or stimulated so as not to be truly representative, the prices at which the sales were made will not indicate the FMV. The authenticity of the vehicle and any parts used to rebuild or otherwise improve it must also be determined by the appraiser.

Regarding antique cars, important factors in the valuation of vehicles are physical condition and extent of restoration. These have a significant effect on the value and must be fully reported in an appraisal. An antique  or custom car in damaged condition will be worth much less than a similar piece in excellent condition. If you donate a car, a boat, or an aircraft to a charitable organization, its FMV must be determined.

Certain commercial firms and trade organizations publish monthly or seasonal guides for different regions of the country, containing complete dealer sale prices or dealer average prices for recent model years. Prices are reported for each make, model, and year. These guides also provide estimates for adjusting for unusual equipment, unusual mileage, and physical condition. The prices are not “official,” and these publications are not considered an appraisal of any specific vehicle. But they do provide clues for making an appraisal and suggest relative prices for comparison with current sales and offerings in your area. These publications are sometimes available from public libraries or at a bank, credit union, or finance company. You can also find pricing information about used cars on the Internet.

An acceptable measure of the FMV of a car, boat, or airplane is an amount not in excess of the price listed in a used vehicle pricing guide for a private party sale, not the dealer retail value, of a similar vehicle. However, the FMV may be less than that amount if the vehicle has engine trouble, body damage, high mileage, or any type of excessive wear. The FMV of a vehicle is the same as the price listed in a used vehicle pricing guide for a private party sale only if the guide lists a sales price for a vehicle that is the same make, model, and year, sold in the same area, in the same condition, with the same or similar options or accessories, and with the same or similar warranties as the donated vehicle.

In general, for insurance or donation purposes, you will need a qualified appraisal. A qualified appraisal is an appraisal document that is made, signed, and dated by a qualified appraiser in accordance with generally accepted appraisal standards. A common misconception is that appraisers are qualified simply because they belong to an organization. A better way to determine whether an appraiser is qualified is by making sure they are licensed by the state in which you reside. If the appraiser is not authorized to settle claims, for instance, then they may not be considered to be qualified according to your insurer, the IRS or a court in which the appraisal may be presented. An appraiser must also not charge a prohibitive appraisal fee.

A qualified appraisal must include the following information:

A description of the vehicle in sufficient detail for a person who is not generally familiar with the type of vehicle to determine that the vehicle appraised is the vehicle that is being insured, contributed or contested.
The physical condition of the vehicle. The name, address, and license number of the qualified appraiser. The qualifications of the qualified appraiser who signs the appraisal, including the appraiser's background, experience, education, and any membership in professional appraisal associations. A statement that the appraisal was prepared for insurance, income tax purposes, legal proceedings or purchase and sale. The date on which the vehicle was valued, the method of valuation used to determine FMV, such as the income approach, the comparable sales or market data approach, or the replacement cost less depreciation approach and the specific basis for the valuation, such as any specific comparable sales transaction.

One final word regarding vehicle donations. The Internal Revenue Service does not accept appraisals without question. Nor does the IRS recognize any particular appraiser or organization of appraisers. Be aware of whom you are dealing with because having to repeat the entire appraisal process, not to mention the added cost, makes very little sense.

For answers to questions about Fair Market Value, please feel free to contact The St. Lucie Appraisal Company before making a decision regarding appraisers and appraisal procedures.

Our service area includes St. Lucie, Martin, Indian River, Brevard, Palm Beach, Broward and Dade Counties. Cities include Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie, Stuart, Palm City, Jensen Beach, Hobe Sound, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach, Coral Springs, Coconut Creek, Pompano Beach, Tamarac, Sunrise, Lauderhill, Plantation, Fort Lauderdale, Davie, Pembroke Pines, Miramar, Hollywood, Hallandale, Miami, Opa Locka, Hialeah, Coral Gables, Kendall and Homestead.

Diminished Value Appraisals throughout Florida including, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Jacksonville, Daytona Beach, St. Augustine, Lakeland, Panama City, Orlando, Pensacola, Fort Myers, Key West, Sarasota, Port Charlotte, Clearwater, Kissimmee, Melbourne, Daytona Beach, Ocala, Gainesville, Lake City, Sebring, Bradenton, Titusville, Panama City, Bonita Springs, Naples, St. Petersburg and Tallahassee.

Our rates for services are as follows:

Auto Appraisals (Donations, Bankruptcy, Divorce, Insurance Disputes) $125.00

Stated Value Appraisals (Antique & Classic Cars, Street Rods, Motorcycles, RVs, Trucks) $175.00

Auto/Truck/RV Condition Reports $225.00 and Up

Diminished Value Appraisals (Determines how much less your car is worth after accident repairs) $225.00

Personal Property Appraisals (Contents, Collectibles, Art, Antiques) $225.00 and Up

All other services and additional time when necessary  $75/Hr.

Expert Witness - Court Appearances, Depositions, Mediation $225/Hr.

You may obtain appraisals for Financing, Charitable Donation Tax Credits, Collateral, Damage Claims, Equitable Distribution, Bankruptcy, Estates, Insurance Stated Value, Purchase & Sale and Diminished Value.

Appraisals of Personal Property, Art, Boats, Classic & Custom Autos, Antiques, Collectibles & Memorabilia, Electronics, Machinery, Motorcycles & Choppers, Furnishings, RVs, Trucks & Heavy Equipment. Business Valuations specializing in all types of small businesses.


Keywords for this article: automobile, diminished value, florida, carfax, bad carfax, insurance, collision, accident, repair, agent, broker, dealership, trade-in value, fair market value, progressive,

Revised 08-28-2012
Updated 06-19-2013

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Automobile Diminished Value in Florida

PORT ST. LUCIE, Florida - A few weeks ago I decided to pay my auto insurance policy in person. As an appraiser, you can never expose your business to agents and brokers enough. Over the years, my broker has sent numerous customers my way so a bag of Hershey's Miniatures was the least I could bring along as a gift. Most of their referrals involved custom cars, collectibles and other personal property throughout Florida. Stated Value Appraisals make up a large portion of our business but when I mentioned another service we provide for auto property damage victims, "Diminished Value Appraisals," it drew little more response than a glassy-eyed stare. None of the agents in the office, as a matter of fact, had any idea of what Diminished Value was.

Since you clicked on this article about Diminished Value I'm safe in assuming you know what it is. To recap for the uninitiated (ie: other insurance agencies) when your newer vehicle is damaged as a result of a third-party's negligence, in addition to expecting them to repair your car, you are also entitled to recover the loss of trade-in value you'll encounter at the dealership. This can amount to $5,000 or more yet the majority of people out there are unaware of this form of compensation. Two or three years down the road when you go to sell or trade your car in will be too late. You need to file your DV claim right away.

In order to further illuminate the process I'll describe what we do in relation to what you'll need to do.

Your car has been damaged by a liable third-party. Regardless of whether your vehicle's repairs are handled by your collision carrier or that third-party's insuror, you will make a Diminished Value claim against their insurance company. Their insurance adjuster will require that you present them with a Diminished Value Appraisal which is what we do. There are varying approaches that different appraisal companies use to arrive at what percentage of the car's value has been affected. Most of the national firms use formulas. The problem with that approach is that insurors also have formulas. These, you can be assured, provide the lowest possible return in all cases. So formulaic approaches are challengeable. St. Lucie Appraisal makes multiple queries to dealers, used-car vendors, wholesalers and private sellers. This is time-consuming but provides the highest return by far. Another plus this method offers is that, in order to dispute our figures, they will also have to take the time to make numerous calls. In most cases, as long as your Diminished Value Appraisal isn't outlandish and is buttressed by multiple sources, you'll receive full restitution.

The cost of a Diminished Value Appraisal is $225.00 which you can remit through  to our email address, . For payment by check our mailing address is P.O. Box 2700, Fort Pierce, FL 34954. You may also make a credit card payment over the phone. We'll also be glad to answer any questions you may have. Your appraisal takes less than a week to complete. No inspection of the vehicle is necessary. All you'll need to provide is the Year, Make, Model and Options, a copy of the repair estimate and any photos you may wish to include. Email or mail all pertinent data to the same addresses.

Should you feel that the insuror is being unfair, you may report their behavior or request mediation assistance at In some cases you might be well served by hiring an attorney to represent you. As with the cost of our appraisal, your legal fee may be tax-deductible. Petitioning the court or arbitrator to compel the insuror to reimburse your legal fees is another possibility.

Perhaps your insurance agent, auto body shop or attorney will forget to advise you of your right to seek compensation from at-fault insurance companies for Diminished Value in Florida. Don't worry, we remembered.

The St. Lucie Appraisal Company
P.O. Box 2700
Fort Pierce, FL 34954
Phone: (772) 359-4300
Fax: (772) 466-8400


paypal payment button The fee for an Automobile Diminished Value Report is $275.00. You may also make your Credit Card Payment by telephone, call 772-359-4300. Credit card payments can be made on the PayPal page. Click on "Don't have a PayPal account?" to be taken to the secure credit card payment page. 

After making your secure payment please email the body shop estimate or the insurance company appraisal to or FAX to 772-466-8400.