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What to do when you inherit a record collection that you know little about, and want to sell it

"Hey buddy... Wanna buy a record collection?"


The following was composed by Jay Horman at Fast Hits Music

The first thing, the VERY first thing, is to decide how much time you
wish to put into the effort of "cashing out". Simply put, the more time
you put in, the more money you will get out of the collection.

If you choose to put virtually NO time into it, just put the records in
a box and take them to your local vinyl store, then take whatever offer
is given. You might get $.10 each, maybe $.50 per LP, maybe even more. 
But you will be rid of them, and will hopefully cover the cost of the
gas to get you to the store.

But you are reading this, so the assumption is that you'd rather not
settle for the lowest price. The next level would be to get an idea of
what the value of the records are, so you at least have some cards to
play at the dealing table. You do that by buying a price guide. Don't
worry too much about which one, just be sure that it is a relatively
recent edition, and that it covers the items you have. You'll just be
using the book for what it is: a guide. 

Then, go through and look up the records, and make a list of each one's
value, based on the condition. Be conservative on condition, because any
buyer will be. Sometimes, you'll see different prices for very slight
variations on the record or jacket. It is usually safe to assume that
you have the less expensive (more common) version, unless there is
definite evidence that you have the more valuable one. At this stage,
you are mostly looking to be sure that you don't have any relatively
rare (worth more than say $50) records. If you do have some records like
that, then the original collector was probably pretty discriminate in
their purchases, and you may find a few others in the batch. But most
collectors collected their favorite music, so don't be too disappointed
if each record is valued at/below $10. The reason you bought the price
guide in the first place was to avoid giving away a $1000 record for
$.10. Hopefully, the collection at this stage was worth the investment
in the guide.

Let's assume the collection does have a bit of value, at least according
to the price guide.

You are again faced with the choice: The amount of time you continue to
put into the collection should increase the value of what you get at its
sale. You esentially have two options now: go to a vinyl dealer with
your records, or sell them yourself directly to collectors, either
wholly, or piece-by-piece.

If you choose to go to a dealer, you will save time, but won't get quite
as much for the records. You might expect 10% to maybe 75% at the most,
but probably at the low end, especially for the more common items.
Remember that the guides typically show the high-end price of items sold
by dealers to collectors. Being professionals, the dealers need to earn
a living and pay the rent, so that's about all they can offer. But they
are also typically the only people that buy your collection as a whole. 

Don't limit yourself. Send a copy of your list to other possible
non-local dealers who may be interested. Shop around for offers a bit.
And obviously, if you find an offer you like, take it.

Keep in mind that the rarities (and the knowledge that you have them) 
work in your favor. Use them as bargaining chips. You might even dump
the more common items with the dealer, and sell the more valuable items

If you wish to get the highest price for your records, you'll probably
want to sell directly to collectors. This will involve more effort, and
possibly some additional costs. It will also take some time. You must
choose how to let people know (newsgroup, website, ads, etc), and how to
sell the items (set sale, auction, best offer, etc.). The possibilities
for what you'll make vary widely - you may not do better than 10% of the
price guide, or you may find someone willing to pay twice what the guide
says. Again, remember it's just a guide. People will often expect a
little better deal from an individual vs. a dealer, but again, don't
give away the $100 record for $.10. You've come too far!!

Exactly what method of selling works best will depend on the type of
items you have, and how comfortable you are with selling (getting phone
calls etc.). Details are beyond the scope of this, but it's worth some
web surfing and picking up the magazines "Goldmine" and "DISCoveries".
You'll get plenty of ideas on how to get rid of your stuff.