From the past…
If your relative has property values in the 1850 and 1860 census, analyze them in context–not in isolation. The only thing the value tells you by itself is that the relative owned property. Context matters.
How does their property value compare to that of their neighbors in both these enumerations? By what percentage does their property value change from one enumeration to the next? Does this same change seem to be taking place with their neighbors as well?
An increase in property value could mean more property was acquired, property values in that area went up in general, or improvements were made on the property. A decrease may mean property values declined or property was sold.
No matter the value of real property listed in the census, locate local land records to determine how the property was acquired, whether more property was purchased or sold between the 1850 and 1860 census, and how the property left your relative’s ownership.
That value was more than just a number.