How many times has an article on social media or the internet caught your attention with its headline: “If You Have One of These Items You May Be a Millionaire”?
You might have clicked on it as you held your breath hoping to discover you are the owner of such a treasure.
You may have even found out you own a “priceless” Hummel figurine, Beanie Baby or baseball card.
But before you book that dream vacation or buy a new car, STOP! Take a breath. Check the fine print and THEN call a professional.
Most of the items in those types of articles aren’t as valuable as you may think they are. In fact, if you actually read the articles carefully, you’ll probably see that it is the very rare Beanie Babies or first edition signed books that are actually valuable.
Of course, the fine print doesn’t always crush our hopes and dreams that what WE have is a valuable treasure!
We often get calls from folks who are who are convinced they will be taking a trip to Walt Disney World from the proceeds of grandma’s China or glassware.
But here’s the thing: Just because your grandmother owned it and it’s an “antique” or your parents spent hundreds of dollars on it 20 years ago doesn’t mean it has held its value.
In the case of most China and glassware, if you can’t put it in the dishwasher, nobody wants to buy it. No matter how beautiful it is, there simply isn’t a market for it these days and so the value may be a whopping $10—on a good day.
Ditto beautiful oak furniture, limited edition prints and “really old” books. We may be able to sell it, but even if someone spent hundreds or thousands of dollars on it years ago, it may not fetch $100 in today’s market.
Often, when we inform people on the value of something in today’s market, they will reply, “But I saw it on eBay [or Facebook Marketplace] for $1,000.”
But just because someone is asking $1,000 for it, that doesn’t mean they’ll get that.
Everyone wants to believe their items have held or increased in value, especially when they have sentimental value.
In reality, that’s simply not the case for some items.
On the other hand, if you do happen to have a rare antique or heirloom or something that is highly sought-after in today’s market, then you may be able to take that Disney trip.
But you have to know the difference in value. You can’t go by what you see on the internet.
That’s where auctioneers and appraisers come in handy. We don’t enjoy crushing your hopes and dreams, but we have an obligation to be honest with you about what to expect in return.
Here are 4 tips to keep in mind:
- Do your homework. Look on social media and auction sites for prices realized.
- Put your emotional connection or history with the item aside. Ask yourself, “Would I buy this? How much would I be willing to pay for it?” Be honest.
- Don’t be afraid to ask a professional about anticipated value but be open-minded.
- In the event your treasure isn’t likely to provide a windfall, be prepared to make a decision: Do I want to keep this because it has value to me or am I ready to let it go to someone else even if I don’t get for it what I’d hoped?
We don’t like delivering bad news, but sometimes the best we can do is remind you that grandma’s China may not be worth a mint, but perhaps the memories of it on her table or in a hutch make it a priceless treasure for you.