Forever goods
December 28, 2011 5:53 AM   Subscribe

What consumer products don't depreciate much in a 5+ year timespan?

There have been a lot of questions about premium goods that you can buy new for a higher price but that will last a lifetime. Along the same lines, what are things you can buy that may be expensive, but that can be easily sold in a few years for a price close to what you paid, making them very inexpensive to own?
posted by smackfu to Shopping (32 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Old stuff that has depreciated as much as it's ever going to - good quality old furniture for example.

On the same theme, antiques of all varieties - supposing of course that you've done your research before buying.

Maybe not what you're looking for, but you can find some really nice things on Freecycle, and they never depreciate.
posted by emilyw at 6:05 AM on December 28, 2011

Though this is most likely not what you are looking for, I find my musical instruments tend to carry value very well. A quality guitar is a quality guitar no matter the age.
posted by amazingstill at 6:05 AM on December 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

High-quality cribs and popular baby brands for durable baby goods (strollers, carriers, etc.). The resale on these can be easily 90% of new; it shocks me, especially for something being chewed and barfed on.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:22 AM on December 28, 2011

Some used vehicles depreciate very little, or occasionally even appreciate. Four wheel drive Toyota pickup trucks, Jeep Wranglers, and Land Cruisers can, if you don't overspend, be bought used, driven hard for a few years, and sold for about the same as you paid. I'm sure there are other niche car markets out there that function the same way -- older diesel Mercedes, probably -- but it all hinges on not paying too much and not buying something that needs endless money poured in to fix all the delayed maintenance issues.
posted by Forktine at 6:28 AM on December 28, 2011

"Master-built" musical instruments. Especially wooden ones, like guitars and violins tend to appreciate over time. Not so much in ~5 years, but in the longer run.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 6:34 AM on December 28, 2011

What consumer products don't depreciate much in a 5+ year timespan?

Depreciation is the implication that you want the ability to sell the item off the market. It's completely irrelevant if you are going to use an item to destruction.

The reason for buying a premium good and using to destruction is that, in the long run, it is almost always cheaper than the lower cost good. The classic example is the Samuel Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice.

Most consumer goods follow this pattern -- you can buy cheap, but it will not last, or you can spend more now and not have to spend less again and again.

Few things will pay out in the short to mid term, unless they have little value to begin with. There are many people in northern cities who buy a beat-up 4WD for the winter, and sell it again, so they in effect rent a beater for a couple of hundred bucks, but the car had little value to start with. Mudpies don't cost much, but they don't lose much value, either.

In the 20-30 year period, this can turn around, but a big factor in that is fashion -- and, of course, another big factor is that it has to last 20-30 years. So, once again, the fundamental rule is "well built keeps value." It's why the Volvo 2 Series and the E-Class Mercedes became iconic in various parts of the world.
posted by eriko at 6:34 AM on December 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

SLR camera lenses (not the cameras themselves) hold their value incredibly well.
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:35 AM on December 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

SLR camera lenses (not the cameras themselves) hold their value incredibly well.
this. Canon L-lenses (the ones with the red ring) can almost always be sold for close to their retail value provided they are kept in pristine condition. the only issue might be that canon comes out with a new lens that is much more desirable. this happened to the TS-E 24mm f3.5 and the first 85mm f1.2.
posted by krautland at 6:55 AM on December 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

There are very few new items you can buy like this, but I have an interesting example. Home exercise equipment tends to depreciate rapidly because people don't use them or they are overpriced to start with. The exception to the rule is the CompuTrainer by RacerMate. It sells new for around $1600 and you can find used ones that are 8 years old that sell for around $1200 on ebay.
posted by dgran at 7:18 AM on December 28, 2011

Many good wines? Of course you can't use them in the meantime.
posted by CheeseLouise at 7:20 AM on December 28, 2011

On certain cars, certain options can do this. If you are buying a truck, getting the 4x4 option pretty much pays back when you sell. As does getting an automatic transmission, and if available, the diesel engine.

Other things off the top of my mind are guns, certain sporting equipment (golf clubs), hand tools, good guitar amplifiers. Certain A/V equipment, like good speakers, amplifiers and occasionally video display devices.

The key is to not to buy what is fashionable/popular/expensive, but to buy actual quality.
posted by gjc at 7:21 AM on December 28, 2011

The first thing that popped into my head was the Kitchenaid stand mixer. I have been looking for a used one for years. I never see them at yard sales.
Macintosh computers tend to depreciate less than Windows based PCs.
Piaggio Scooters (Vespa) compared to Chinese scooters. However you could use this analogy comparing any number of higher quality product compared to an inferior product.
posted by Gungho at 7:40 AM on December 28, 2011

Not super serious example but Pandora Beads hold their value really well. The company doesn't allow deep discounting of the beads by retailers and monitors this very closely and while you can get knock offs cheap enough it is really hard to get genuine Pandora beads at a decently discounted price. I've sold 2 for pretty much retail price. Some of the earlier out of are actually worth more now as they are not being made anymore. Having said that it's a bit of a trend item so who knows if they will hold their value over into the future, though if nothing else they'll keep the gold/silver value I guess.
posted by wwax at 8:27 AM on December 28, 2011

There are some niche items like this. The one I was thinking of is the Garmin GPSMap 478, which is coveted by motorcyclists and mariners. New, it sold for around $650, IIRC, and used ones are going on eBay for upwards of $700.
posted by workerant at 8:28 AM on December 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

One way to think about things is whether they are a mature technology or not. Cell phones and computers will, for the foreseeable future, be horrible money pits because one from five years ago may be barely usable. The aforementioned stand mixer is a mature technology that means a good condition used item will be just as useful/desired as new.

Another thing to consider is cost. People rarely opt for used if the price of a new item is well within reach, but will shop for good used if new is pricey.

Most "genuine" classic cars, if bought sensibly, can be sold again in a few years for what you paid plus some appreciation. This means, generally, buying a car which has been expertly restored and maintaining it in good condition. If you have to restore the car you'll lose money. Cars restored to original, factory condition are safe bets; any modifications generally will hurt value.
posted by maxwelton at 9:06 AM on December 28, 2011

SLR camera lenses (not the cameras themselves) hold their value incredibly well.

And Leica bodies can be bought and resold more or less for the same price, hence Mike Johnston's suggestion to "rent" a Leica for a year.
posted by holgate at 9:24 AM on December 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Cast iron pots and pans can appreciate in value, because of the build up of seasoning. However, since they don't look shiny, they're rarely sold second-hand.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:47 AM on December 28, 2011

Good quality, good condition guns. I have a Browning shotgun that I paid $900 for (used) about ten years ago. I have been offered (and turned down) $2,000 several times.
posted by Lone_Wolf at 9:58 AM on December 28, 2011

Apple computers hold their value much better than PCs.
posted by cnc at 10:34 AM on December 28, 2011

Apple computers hold their value much better than PCs.

This really, greatly varies depending on the build of the Mac or PC, whether it is a laptop or desktop, and so on. The problem with simply saying that Computer X holds its value over Computer Y is ignoring the whole Grandfather's Axe aspect of hardware upgrades. If you re-invest in the product and upgrade it on a regular basis, a certain PC can outlast a certain Mac. Except it isn't the same PC anymore.

The point that someone made above re: computers in general being money pits is considerably more true than their ability to hold value on branding alone.
posted by griphus at 10:47 AM on December 28, 2011

Harley-Davidson Motorcycles, especially the more touring-oriented ones.
Larger pickup trucks in the 3/4 to 1 ton classes.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 11:54 AM on December 28, 2011

Response by poster: hence Mike Johnston's suggestion to "rent" a Leica for a year.

This is exactly the idea I was going for. Things you can "rent" for free, because they hold value so well. This then means that you don't really have to put as much consideration into the purchase, because there is less at stake. Just plain durable high-end goods, like expensive shoes or leather bags, don't really fall in the same category because you are stuck with them after purchase. So you need to really decide whether that purchase is worth it.
posted by smackfu at 12:01 PM on December 28, 2011

As long as you care for them properly, cloth diapers.
posted by litnerd at 12:12 PM on December 28, 2011

The Yamaha TW200 motorcycle hasn't changed since 1987 besides the removal of the kickstart and addition of the front disk brake. Other than that, all parts from all years are interchangeable. As such, they hold their value.
posted by PSB at 12:42 PM on December 28, 2011

Yeah, those classic "starter" motorcycles like the TW200 or the Kawasaki Ninja 250R can be pretty much resold near cost once you've outgrown them -- as long as you don't knacker them up too badly when learning -- because the beginners' market doesn't go away:
Since your first bike is a learning tool, odds are that you’ll make some mistakes (everyone does) and drop it in the parking lot or driveway. It’s better to get those noob mistakes out of the way on a used bike instead of scratching up a pristine brand new one. Besides, you can sell a used bike for only slightly less than you paid for it when it comes time to upgrade. I bought my first bike used for $3800 and sold it nine months later for $3500; i.e. I basically paid only $300 to use that bike for nine months.
posted by holgate at 1:13 PM on December 28, 2011

Along those lines, but a smaller market: I'm pretty sure that "starter" dinghies -- the Optimist "floating bathtub" class for kids, and the Laser class for adults -- also hold their value pretty well, in part because the classes are sufficiently strictly defined that you're not going to have major upgrade/obsolescence issues.
posted by holgate at 1:24 PM on December 28, 2011

The resale on these can be easily 90% of new; it shocks me, especially for something being chewed and barfed on.

Not to hog the thread, but baby goods are pretty much the canonical example of a "beginners' market" that the users will eventually grow out of.
posted by holgate at 1:28 PM on December 28, 2011

Vespa motorscooters hold their value extremely well. It's hard to find one second-hand.
no, I don't have any cites.
posted by BostonTerrier at 3:30 PM on December 28, 2011

Quality wood working equipment, like SLR lenses, will sell for 80% of suggested retail value for decades. I've twice sold an 8" jointer for exactly what I paid for it months before. Steel weight lift weight sells by the pound and being a practically ideal commodity the sell/buy differential on used weight is very small. And it'll never wear out.

eg: say a Unisaw which until recently a new unit was essentially exactly the same as a unit built in the 40s and a saw built in the 80s would command the same price as a saw built in the 50s both of which being a relatively small discount of the regular discount retail price.
posted by Mitheral at 4:47 PM on December 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

A quality leather horseback riding saddle, if well cared for, will have close to the same value in five or ten years as it did two years after the original purchase (the value drops at first because most warranties are original-owner-only). Purchasing a new saddle is extremely rare, purchasing a used one is much more common.
posted by anaelith at 6:06 PM on December 29, 2011

Anecdote: I recently purchased a 1987 Fiberglass camper. Somewhat of a collectible/vintage model. The original purchase price in 1987 was $3795.00 I paid $3700 in 2011.
posted by Gungho at 8:55 AM on December 30, 2011

Response by poster: Apparently Lego sets also keep their value extremely well. Unopened, they generally appreciate, and opened, they don't depreciate.
posted by smackfu at 8:59 AM on February 7, 2012

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