Be Careful of What Lurks in the Weeds

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I recently received a very interesting phone call from someone who wanted to know if I appraised farm equipment. As always, I asked what the purpose of the appraisal would be. He then told me his story.

This gentleman bought some farmland outside our city about three years ago. He set about cleaning all the debris that is so often found on farms. One area of the farmyard was overgrown with weeds, bushes, and tangled vines. Interspersed between all this flora were several pieces of old, rusted farm equipment from the 50’s and 60’s. He spent several thousands of dollars having the bits and pieces of farm equipment extricated from the foliage. This is where it gets interesting.

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The previous owner, a full three years later, sued the person he had sold the land to, saying that the farm machinery was worth thousands of dollars and that, by the current owner removing the equipment, had damaged it. He demanded full restitution.

So what happened? We discussed his options, given that farm machinery was definitely not something I dealt with as an appraiser. I mentioned to him that it was very possible that any interest in this old equipment probably followed the pattern of declining interest for antiques in general. He had contacted a living museum society close to Edmonton, one that has farm machinery as part of its exhibits. What he needed from me was a letter stating that the society’s opinion was relevant to the matter. I did that gladly.

The result? It turns out that the vice president of the society was very aware of the location of this equipment, and had seen its condition. Not only that, he mentioned the society is no longer accepting such items due to lack of interest in such types of antiques.

The value? Scrap metal value only, between $70 and $80 per ton, delivered.

The Moral of this story? Before signing any real estate contracts, make sure you know what’s in the weeds!

2 responses to “Be Careful of What Lurks in the Weeds

    • That’s the thing – the equipment was sitting on the land with no special mention in the sales contract that it was anything other than…junk. I think the guy just decided he could make some money by bringing it up to the courts. I certainly hope reason prevails as the matter hasn’t been settled yet.

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