Most of the US appraisal business centers on determining the value of things inside the house for estate purposes; insurance, taxes, divorces, etc.
Given that fact, you won’t find more than a few dedicated sports card appraisal services that can generate an official report for taxes, auctions, etc. They’ll tell you the fair market value of your collection, yes. And they might offer to appraise your cards for free. But your options are fairly limited after that. Let me explain.
Regrettably, most individuals who call about their card collection do not have the kind of stuff that is worth more than a couple $100, and many times, appraisers decline to evaluate these collections since it’s not really in the client’s best interest to employ an appraisal service.
Heritage Auctions Appraisal Service
As with many appraisal services, Heritage claims to appraise your cards for free. Which is true. But there are different levels of appraisals. If you’re just looking to get your cards valued to see what you could sell them for on the open market, then use Heritage as your first option. Their free appraisal ordering system is fairly robust if a little confusing.
Remember when I mentioned that there were ‘levels’ of appraisals? Well, now I can tell you about that. An official appraisal report that can be used for tax purposes (let’s say your estate lawyer needs to determine the value of the collection your dad left you in his will) will cost a minimum of $500 at Heritage. And that only applies to cards that are already graded by either PSA or Beckett, for the first 10 cards. If you have 100s of graded cards (I wish!) then you’ll run up a hefty bill in the thousands.
Some other appraisal services, all of whom offer this for free because the appraisal isn’t official, include:
If you happen to have a decent collection (over 10,000 good condition cards) and you’d like to get them officially appraised for estate or donation purposes, what are your options?
Houle sports is the only appraisal service that will accept raw cards for official appraisals, without charging $1000s to do so.
The model works like this:
Raw Cards: For a 1 time, $500 payment, you can send in your entire collection (yes, the whole thing) and receive a soft appraisal fair market value of your cards in 1 week. This is not an official appraisal, and should only be used for a pricing guide. Just like all the other services above. However, Houle Sports will also tell you which of your cards should be graded and authenticated to determine their real fair market value, and also generate an official appraisal once the cards do get graded (if you decide to go that route).
How should you determine if your cards need to get graded?
Houle sports will tell you. It’s that simple. And it’s based on just a few things that you can easily check yourself for free.
Card grading and authenticating can range in costs from $10 to $1000 per card if you choose PSA or Beckett; with turnaround time in the several-month range. But if you use Houle Sports preferred Grading partner SNCGrading.com – there’s just one flat fee per card to get them graded. And the turnaround is 2 weeks flat.
If Houle Sports determines your card should get graded, then you can assume 4 things:
- Your card’s fair market value will be at least double the expense of grading/authenticating. Spend $15, get back at least $30 for example. 2. You can sell your card on eBay for almost exactly the appraised value. Easily checked for free via 130point.com/sales
- You can write off the full appraised value of the card(s) if you donate it/them to charity, using IRS form 8283
- You can trust that the appraised value is highly accurate and official when used on estate documentation.
No matter why you’re getting your cards appraised, you should now know that there are different levels of appraisals.
If you need any help determining what to do with your cards, feel free to contact houlesports.com and ask your questions for free.
Written by David Houle, owner of Houle Sports Card Appraisals
David Houle is the winningest coach in American sports history. He was inducted into the Coaches Hall of Fame in 2000 and has been collecting sports and trading cards for 5 decades.