A lot of people have probably heard the title phrase spoken informally when discussing the value of their truck, car, or piece of equipment. Possibly when they are seeking financing for the sale of used machinery or negotiating with a potential buyer or seller.
Is there any truth or logic behind this statement? That depends on if you are an equipment dealer, an appraiser, or a casual used machinery investor.
I heard a professional speaking to a group the other day about selling equipment in a very “down” market, where the industry was being perceived as potentially dead or dying. The equipment associated with this industry was being sold for pennies on the dollar during this period, by those in desperate need of turning the assets into cash. The machinery was fully operational and had years of useful life remaining.
On the flip side, is a 15-year-old truck-tractor with 1,000,000 miles worth 90% of what a brand new one would cost today? If you look at trade journals in the current marketplace, you will see these inflated asking prices as sellers try and take advantage of an unprecedented world economy we are in the midst of today.
From this appraiser’s perspective, these types of sales should be considered outliers to any reasonable, common sense comparable sales approach to valuing similar assets. If a business owner or investor is not willing to take a broader look at the market or industry they are working in, through impatience or necessity, then how they react in these situations cannot measure the true value of their underlying machinery.
Even the most cyclical, volatile markets will reveal a historic pattern over time that will likely continue over decades to come, regardless of what the doom and gloom prognosticators will try to tell you. Yes, there will be assets bought and sold at the peak and nadir of these cycles, however, any and all of these should be adjusted to truly measure the realistic value of machinery & equipment.
The sales comparable approach can sometimes lead an appraiser down a misleading path when used exclusively, and without consideration for ignoring sales that fall well outside of a long developed pattern, and in consideration of very unusual market behavior. As a complement to this data, take a realistic look at how these assets have generally depreciated in the marketplace in years past, based on their age, useful life, maintenance, and selling cycles in an adjusted, normalized market.
I am not saying these cyclical conditions should be completely ignored, but instead considerably tempered when distinguishing what an asset is truly worth vs. what someone is willing to pay for it in unique circumstances. How the appraiser subjectively weighs all of this information to formulate their opinions of value will vary, however, those who take the time to look at multiple perspectives will be able to bring sense to an otherwise unusual scenario.