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Cashing in on your collectibles

Category Investment Save
Classic car a savings goal and an investment

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure – and there are eBay millionaires to prove it. Whether you’ve collected action figures, rare coins or vinyl, you can bet somebody out there is willing to pay money for what others might call junk.

Rare collectibles are so well regarded as financial assets that they're even allowed in super funds, from fine art and wine collections to coins and postage stamps.

UK bank Coutts even published an Objects of Desire index to show the value appreciation of “passion assets”. It shows they’ve appreciated more than shares since 2005, with classic cars (up 257 per cent) and vintage watches (up 176 per cent) being the standout items. Unlike new assets, like a car which is set to depreciate, vintage items can act as savings goals which could return on your investment in full.

Classic cars are up 257% and vintage watches are up 176%!

Selling options

The problem with physical assets in general is they’re illiquid. Unlike shares that can be sold quickly, or savings that are already in cash, you need to find a buyer if you want to realise the value of your collection. So what options do you have to offload them?

1. eBay

Online auctions are a popular way for people to buy and sell high-value assets, although you may struggle to find the equivalent high-net-worth buyers on eBay. You should also calculate what your eBay fees would be, and the cost of shipping and insurance.

2.  Private buyer

Finding a private buyer for something very unusual and specific isn’t always easy, but if you do your research you will find different clubs and organisations for enthusiasts, whether Australian beer cans or automobilia items.

Specialist auctions are another selling option to consider. If you decide to take this route, keep in mind there will be additional expenses such as seller commission.

3.  Auction house

If you have a very fine collection, particularly of items with individual value such as antique watches or rare coins, it could be worth approaching a traditional auction house such as Mossgreen or Lawsons. The auction process can be slow (up to three months) and there are fees to take into account, but they will manage everything for you and provide exposure to international collectors if required.

4.  Asset-based loan

One more option if you want immediate cash is to try an asset-based lender like Assetline or Cash Converters. They will loan you money against valuable collectibles, much like getting a traditional mortgage against a property. This can be useful for temporary funds, for a sale advance or even if you want to add to your collection but don’t have enough money right now.

Top tips for selling collectibles

  • Keep them in mint condition: This hugely affects value; however it can be a costly exercise.
  • Insurance: At the very least make sure that you are covered for fire and theft.
  • Know their history: Do your research and provide detailed descriptions.
  • Get them appraised: Some buyers will demand professional valuation.
  • Good photography: A great photo is the difference between a sale and a skip.
  • Ship securely: Make sure you have the proper packaging and again, insurance, don’t take short cuts.

Try also to avoid a “fire sale”. If your collection has been lovingly put together over many years, and you (and even your ancestors) have invested time, money and emotion in it, be patient so you can ensure the best sale at the best price with the best return on investment.