Friday, January 28, 2011


WEST PALM BEACH, Florida - There are many reasons people donate to charity. The IRS allows for tax-deductions when certain criteria are met. And in addition to the tax advantages, the act of making a charitable donation to a qualified charity helps those in need.

In order to establish how much of a tax write off you’ll receive; a Fair Market Value (FMV) must be established. If it is a small contribution, an item worth less than $500.00, no appraisal or other corroboration is necessary. The FMV of a more expensive thing like art, antiques, boats, cars and personal property requires additional proof of how much it is worth.

The definition of Fair Market Value is the price that an article would sell for on the open market. It is the price that would be agreed on between a willing buyer and a willing seller. Methods for determining this price include obtaining an evaluation from a licensed appraiser, a signed and notarized arms-length offer to buy an item, verifiable sales of comparable items, replacement cost and/or the opinions of experts. There is no single formula that always applies when determining the value of something but asking your accountant or tax advisor which method to use is highly recommended.

The best evidence of value is a comparable sale. However, the amount of weight given to a sale depends on the degree of similarity between the comp and the donated item. 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 property. But the comp may not accurately represent the condition of the donated item; a factor that could disqualify it as a method of evaluation.

What can you donate besides boats, cars and personal property? Just about anything of value, as a matter of fact. Household goods like books, furniture, used clothing, jewelry, antiques, art and collectibles. Most things for which you take a deduction of more than $500 require a qualified appraisal.

With regard to donations of automobiles and boats, an acceptable measure of the FMV is a written appraisal. Guides containing sale prices or average prices for recent model years are available but the IRS warns that the prices are not “official,” and these publications are not considered an appraisal of any specific donated property. Be careful about using a do-it-yourself approach because the government is strict in their guidelines. According to the IRS, the FMV of a donated vehicle must be 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. Finding such an article may be impossible.

The St. Lucie Appraisal Company specializes in valuations of all types of motor vehicles and personal property. Here are some things you might want to consider for donation purposes: antique cars, custom cars, street rods, race cars, trucks, construction equipment, dump trucks, tractors, trailers, RVs, motorcycles, choppers, boats, antiques, art, sculpture, glass, firearms, books, manuscripts, clocks, dolls, toys, Disney, rugs, business property, collectibles, memorabilia, coin collections, stamp collections, autographs, comic books, musical instruments, wines, computers, machinery, inventory contents, residential contents and business contents.

Please feel free to call us at 772-359-4300 if you have questions or would like to inquire about our availability. Help the needy while helping yourself. Donate!


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: accountant, Antiques, Art, AUTO, boats, CARS, charity, collectibles, comic books, donations, fair market value, florida, IRS, licensed appraiser, RVs, tax advisor, tax write off, WEST PALM BEACH,st lucie appraisal, Revised 08-29-2012

Updated 06-19-2013

Sunday, January 23, 2011


FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida - Most insurance agents and brokers are either ignorant or guilty of withholding important information from their customers. This would go double for the insurance companies they represent except for the fact that they rarely come into contact with their policyholders until a claim arises. Neither of them are very anxious to explain the principle of Automobile Diminished Value even though that knowledge could ultimately benefit you, their insureds. They do acknowledge they do exist in tort for third party claims. From the simple standpoint of good customer service, this would seem to fly in the face of logical thinking. Good customer service is good business, right? Well, apparently, insurance companies and their agents disagree.

When you sat down with your insurance agent to discuss automobile insurance, there's a good chance you were never told anything about Automobile Diminished Value. Even though it costs the insuror absolutely nothing, such as the car rental and towing allowances on your policy would, this beneficial information is never discussed.

Automobile Diminished Value is the amount of value your car or truck loses after it has been fixed after an accident. Regardless of the quality of the repairs, your car has lost some of it's worth because of it's accident repair history, commonly known as a CARFAX. You can file an insurance claim for this difference in value - an Automobile Diminished Value claim - and you could be compensated as much as ten-thousand dollars ($10,000.00.) Information worth knowing, indeed.

There is no cost to your insurance company, as I previously mentioned, because you may only make a Diminished Value claim against an at-fault third party, the driver of the car that hit yours. If you drive into a tree, you can't sue your own insuror, at least not here in Florida, for diminution of value. When your car or truck has been damaged by another party's negligence, you may pursue an Automobile Diminished Value claim against their insurance company. If you present them with an accurate Automobile Diminished Value report from a licensed appraiser you stand a good chance of being fairly compensated.

So why don't insurance agents pass this valuable information on their policyholders seeing as it benefits you and costs them nothing? The answer may surprise you. The more slowly the general public is made aware of their right to pursue Automobile Diminished Value claims, the longer it will take for it to affect them directly. That's because tomorrow their insured might crash into one of those well-informed people's cars and an Automobile Diminished Value claim will be headed in their own direction. Insurance companies keeping their policy holders in the dark, with regard to Automobile Diminished Value, is good business.

Insurors have circled the wagons and, in this manner, protected themselves from Automobile Diminished Value claims by keeping the insurance-buying public generally uninformed. It isn't illegal nor does it violate any administrative statutes. If a company like State Farm, for example, directed each of it's insurance brokers to start advising policyholders of their right to pursue Automobile Diminished Value claims against third parties, they would represent the first wave of claimants. But eventually all insurance companies will recognize the need for transparency and State Farm, like other insurors before it, would have to start paying for Automobile Diminished Value. The more slowly people learn about Automobile Diminished Value, the better it is for the insurance industry.

So how is it that our company gets assigned so many Automobile Diminished Value cases? Attorneys, of course, are the quickest to recognize opportunities. Many of those who recommend The St. Lucie Appraisal Company have started advertising their expertise in handling Automobile Diminished Value claims. Many, but not most, as of this writing, auto body shops are aware of Automobile Diminished Value. Although it doesn't profit them, advising customers of their rights is good customer service. The burden of proving the reduction of value is on the plaintiff bringing the claim. There is no shortage of people who make it their business to stay informed.

Let me finish this article by pointing out that there are plenty of insurance agents who are both informed and informative. The number of those who are not, however, is much greater and that represents a disservice to Florida's insurance consumers. We are the ones who will be left holding the bag for Automobile Diminished Value come trade-in time.

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.