If you send a dealer, with whom you haven’t previously worked with, a list of 1000 cards, they are unlikely to price them all. Here’s an option.
From 1991-2001, we used to buy older unopened cases. Customers would email/fax us a list of what they had and I’d mark our buy prices. Since we dealt in unopened cases, there were a hundred or so different items and I knew most of the prices without having to look them up. A typical deal would be 2 or 3 each of 10 or 15 different cases. It would take me 5 to 10 minutes to write down our buy prices and send it back to the seller.
Pricing a list of single cards presents a much more time consuming task. A seller might email a list of 500 cards ranging in price from $20 – $500. If I’ve previously bought from the seller and I know they’re serious, I’ll spend an hour or two looking up the value of the cards to come up with a strong offer. If I don’t know the seller, it’s unlikely I’m going to price all the cards. I might price the 20 most valuable cards to see if the seller is serious. If we come to terms on those, I’ll price the rest.
Many dealers work this way. They key for the buyer is to make sure the seller pays you a fair price not only for the high end cards, but for the entire collection. As a seller, you want to get an offer that’s representative of your collection. Ask the potential buyer to give you prices on some (not all) of the lower and middle priced cards. Some dealers have specialties; maybe it’s mint and centered PSA 9’s. They’ll pay top dollar for those cards but they’re not interested in the off center PSA 8’s. If they have to buy them as part of a collection, they might pay half of what another dealer would pay. That’s why it’s important to get quote on a variety of cards, not just the mint and centered Jordan Rookies.
Here are some insights as to how a dealer calculates what to offer on different categories of cards.
Many people tend to look at the most optimistic outcome when viewing their financial transactions. They tend to neglect the details and focus on the top line number. Ebay charges 11% commission, Paypal, around 3%, and the amount you charge the buyer for shipping won’t cover your postage and supplies. Both charge their fees on your shipping cost as well. There are returns, buyers who claim the item was damaged in shipping, buyers who switch cards, and a number of other cost centers that affect the amount you get to bank after expenses. This doesn’t account for your time. Scanning, describing, listing and packing a couple hundred cards is a larger task than many collectors realize.
A dealer buying a collection has to account for labor when making an offer. It’s difficult to give a straight % estimate based on the expected sales price without knowing the breakdown of a collection. For example, let’s go with a graded card that’s expected to sell for $500. Assume the dealer has direct selling costs of 15%, this includes Ebay fees, payment processing fees, shipping material fees and the cost of shipping that exceeds the amount collected from the buyer. Using these numbers, the dealer would net $425 and probably want to pay $325 for the card. The dealer has to scan the card, enter a description, process the sale, pack and ship card and handle returns (if needed) as well as lay out the money for a period of time. This works out to the collector getting 65% of the expected sale price and the dealer generating a gross profit of $100 (30%) before taking into account the labor.
Let’s look at a similar case for a card that’s expected to sell for $30. The direct cost of sale is still 15%, so the dealer nets $25.50. There’s also the same amount of pre sale and post sale work for the dealer. If the dealer paid the collector the same 65%, his expected profit, before labor, would be $6. Unless the dealer is able to run an operation more efficient than Amazon, they’re not going to be interested in paying the collector 65%. The point is, if you have 100 high value cards, that are already graded, you can expect to receive a much higher percentage of the expected selling price than if you have 2000, low value cards. If your cards aren’t graded, you should expect a lower percentage. The dealer has to pay for grading and wait (sometimes up to 2 months) for the cards to be returned and available for sale.
Getting your more valuable cards graded at PSA is worthwhile. When any dealer (including myself) is buying cards, we’re not sure what grade the card will receive. The dealer I know who used to work for PSA routinely cracks cards out of the PSA holders and re-submits them. Sometimes he re-submits a valuable card 4 or 5 times before he gets the grade he expects. As you know, on some cards, a single grade variance (let’s say an 7 to an 8) can mean a lot of money. Let’s take the case of an ungraded 1986 Fleer Jordan Rookie. A PSA 7 goes for a couple thousand but an 8 goes for double that. A dealer can’t assume they’ll get an 8 so they have to pay based on a 7 (Assuming it looks like an 8).
Are the signed balls you mentioned below PSA certified? If so, you’ll get a much higher valuation. As a seller, you want to remove risk and delay from your product. I send in thousands of cards to PSA. The last batch I got back took over 3 months (I use the bulk service). If a dealer has to tie up their money for several months, they’ll adjust their price to reflect that expense. If you want to get the highest value for your cards, you want to get everything ready to sell. I’ve had lots of collectors who don’t want to hassle with sorting, grading and filling out the paperwork. I can certainly understand that but I just want to make the point that in almost every case, the seller would get more for their collection by having the high value cards graded.
You mentioned you sold some items on Ebay and realized less than you expected. Can you tell me some of the items you sold and for what price? That might help me find the best place for your items.
If you have high end memorabilia, you might want to call Heritage Auctions. Many dealers sell their unusual items through them. If you have high dollar value items, you can negotiate the commissions they charge. Many dealers get a rebate from them instead of paying an auction fee since they already have a buyers premium. A link to their website is below.
If you want to get an idea of what I can pay for items, please send me a list of 10 – 20 PSA graded cards (with scans if possible) and I can send you buy prices. The reason I ask for scan is that centering is important. A PSA 8 that is perfectly centered can sell for 20% more than one that is 65/35 (but not marked by PSA as OC).