The aftermath of the devastating Marshall Fire will be long-lived for so many across our lovely Boulder Valley. One often neglected chore was brought to light: making an inventory of your personal belongings. For those of us fortunate enough to have been out of the path of this recent tragedy, there’s no time like the present to update – or create – an inventory of personal property.
But how do you get started? Here is a compilation of tips on making a home inventory. Creating both a written and inventory and visual record tops the list.
Make a comprehensive written inventory
Catalog your possessions with a description of each item including make, model, serial number, purchase price and date of purchase. Spreadsheets are an excellent tool for your written inventory. Additionally, downloadable smartphone apps enable you to take a photograph and note the description, value and purchase date alongside the photo.
Create a corresponding visual record
Use the video recorder on your phone to make a video walk-through of your home, or take a series of photographs. If you choose to make a video recording, use the audio to describe each item, including brand name, quantity and when purchased. This not only makes a record, it also shows proof of ownership.
Record one area at a time, starting small – like with a hall closet or small kitchen cabinet – and then moving on to the next.
Remember to note items in your basement, attic, garage and storage or tool sheds. Your garage may have a number of costly items such as tools, bikes and sports equipment.
For your most valuable possessions – antiques, art, jewelry, collectibles and electronic equipment – you may want to contact your insurance agent to make sure your policy covers them. In some cases, you may need to add a rider to adequately cover these items.
Get into the habit of recording new purchases to keep your inventory up to date. Keep sales receipts and appraisals to help verify the value of each item.
For clothing, note the quantity of each clothing type.
It’s important to keep copies of your home inventory in a safe place, such as a fire safe, safety deposit box or in the cloud. State Farm notes that you can also email your inventory to your insurance agent.
Put technology to work
Sortly is a popular app ranked best overall by personal finance advice website thebalance.com. Available for both Android and IOS phones, Sortly lets you organize your home inventory in several different folders and subfolders and add searchable tags to make finding items easier. And you can transfer and export the items to a .csv file, Dropbox or as a .pdf file.
If you have collections – whether they are highly valued or personal favorites of books, movies or video games – MyStuff was named as the best app for organizing collections by thebalance.com.
For those that have multiple properties, Magic Home Inventory may be the app for you. It enables you to organize home inventory across multiple properties, room by room.
You can start by checking with your insurance carrier. Many offer their own inventory apps as well.
Documenting all of your personal belongings can feel overwhelming. Rather than be deterred, recognize that it can be done room or cabinet at a time. Keep at it, and soon you will have successfully recorded the belongings in your entire house and storage areas.
For more information on home inventories, visit:
By Tom Kalinski. Tom is the broker/owner of RE/MAX of Boulder, the local residential real estate company he established in 1977. He was inducted into Boulder County’s Business Hall of Fame in 2016 and has a 40-year background in commercial and residential real estate. For questions, email Tom at [email protected], call 303.441.5620, or visit boulderco.com.