Maybe you have more stuff from your grandparents than you have space for or perhaps you want to turn the clutter in your attic into cash. Whatever your reason, sorting through decades-old collectibles and antiques is a fun way to take a trip down the memory lane. Also, you can make some serious money putting them on the market. But first, you need to have a sense of how these items are valued to ensure you get a fair offer. Here’s our must-read guide to pricing items before you sell.
How Experts Value Antiques
Truthfully, there’s no easy way to answer how much antiques and collectibles are worth. But as ambiguous as it can be, evaluators do quotations on a daily basis largely by looking at comparable wares. It is ideal if the appraiser can find a number of recorded sales for the exact same piece you are selling, making the valuation more accurate. You would then discard the low and high values to get the average quotation of the object. Many times, live auction results and other services of similar nature are used for this purpose.
The reality is, appraisers are not always so lucky to find sale records of every item. Often they only get to discover one account, much less several. That includes archives of items that are identical in condition whether that means excellent or poor. These experts diversify a bit on whether to include comparable objects fairly often, especially when looking at antiques. You can do this strategy yourself, with some patience, time, and guidance.
Where to Begin Your Research Online
You can start your research quest on proper valuation with several of resources found online. There should be articles, guides, and links to give you a jumpstart at pricing your possessions. There are also online assessment services that you can turn to if you just want to pay for an “estimation of value,” a term that should not be confused with a professionally written appraisal.
Take note that many online value guides only reflect a single point in history when an object was traded rather than an average selling price. That price can be lower or higher than the norm. As the name implies, these resources are simple guides.
Another convenient way to determine your item’s approximate value is to visit online auctions. Look up past results or log on to a large vintage mall or antique selling site Etsy.com or RubyLane.com, as examples). You may find similar pieces on their inventory that will help you assess your item’s value.
Do keep in mind that online pricing depends on a number of factors and from dealer to dealer. The price you see at one moment may not be the final price when it eventually gets sold. There are also cases when online action results show prices that are far less than what dealers are inclined to ask at antique shows and in brick and mortar shops.
Choosing Books For Offline Research
You can always hit your local library for information on certain antiques and collectibles. You might also want to check out any large bookstore in your area and see what you can find there. If you want to take this project to a higher level why not build your own reference library? This is a good idea if you are researching the same types of objects over and over.
The variety of books on collectibles and antiques has dwindled over the past decades. Still, popular publishing houses like Schiffer Books and Krause Publications continue to produce texts on various vintage and antique topics. Look for these publishers online to see their complete catalogs.
When you are using books to look for values, even if you find the exact item shown in the same condition, remember that the figures listed are usually higher than average. This means you might not actually be able to sell a piece for that hefty amount. Authors occasionally use erratic auction prices in their quotation averages, which, for better or worse, can significantly skew the results. Sometimes the person who owns the item shown in a book dictates the quotation.
Values also vary from rural to urban areas and from coast to coast, so where prices are obtained can make a vast difference. A vintage piece may fetch a much higher amount in Los Angeles or New York than it would in Des Moines or Omaha. The author’s venue or preferred selling location plays an important role in valuation.
Wholesale Values vs. Secondary Market Values
Once you’ve done your research, it’s now time to look at the venue and the market in which you want to sell. If you are choosing an antique dealer, expect to get a wholesale price of around one quarter to one-half of what you would ask as a secondary market retailer. That’s because antique dealers typically have overhead to consider. They may also have kept the pieces for years until someone who is willing to pay top dollar for them walks in. One advantage of this is that it allows you to turn your items into cash more quickly.
No one wants to get ripped off when selling their precious hand-me-downs. Researching beforehand is your best bet if you want to get a fair quotation for your items. If you have expensive antique consider Biltmore Loan.