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Best Time to SELL a SPORTS CARD?

May 03, 2021 7 min read

Best Time to SELL a SPORTS CARD?

How do you know when is the best time to sell a sports card? We all want to maximize our value, and this question is probably about as old as the sports card hobby in general, and it can be very difficult and challenging. You would probably have a better success rate at picking what the tomorrow's weather is going to be than to pick the correct time to sell a sports card. You're probably not gonna get it 100% accurate all the time. It's just gonna be very, very, challenging. So let's just get that right out of the way. Now take a big deep breath. We've seen it, you know, in the sports card market, but every market in general there's always these ebbs and flows. It's high in one week and it's low the next week. I mean we've seen this with the 2003 LeBron James Topps chrome recently. That card got up to about $38,000 and now it's down to $30,000. It's just all over the place depending on which card it is. There's just so many factors that come into it. Who the player is. What that particular player's team is doing. The grade. The pop report. Tons of factors at play so it can be rather stressful to decide when to sell a card.

Am I going to time it right? What's going on with this market? What's going on with the team? So what are some sort of indicators that we can look at to help us decide whether or not it is the right time to sell a card?

Again as with anything, these are just my own thoughts. Always do your own research and do what's best for you your collection and your family, and always talk with a couple people beforehand if you've got a big time card that you are thinking about selling. Run it by a couple people in the hobby that you trust. Get their opinion before making that decision. That'll make you feel a ton better on whether or not that is the correct decision at that particular time, but let's go ahead and talk about some indicators here that we can kind of walk through to help us decide whether or not it is in our best interest to sell that card.

#1: You no longer like the player.

Hey it happens. They get traded to your rival team. That's a big one you see in baseball with the Red Sox and the Yankees. He's no longer your bff. He plays with a rival. He does something silly off the field, something stupid, or you know he says something like the earth is flat. Point is, you no longer like the guy and you want to get rid of them. That happens all the time. That's definitely a legit reason to go ahead and move on from a card.

#2: You want to move down a grade on a card.

Let's say for example you have a PSA 9 of a particular card that's worth $10,000 and a PSA 8 sells for about $5,000. You really don't care whether you have an 8 or 9, it's really not that important to you. On this particular card you'd rather have the $5,000 in your pocket and then downgrade to a PSA 8. That's a great opportunity go ahead sell that 9, get that extra 5k and then just pick up that 8. You still got the card in your collection. You just moved down a grade on that particular card.

#3: You want to buy something different.

You've got a 10k card, same example here, and you want to switch over to a different type of card that's got the same exact value. Obviously it makes sense to go ahead and sell that 10k card and then pick up that other card. You got no money coming out of your pocket, that's a win. You've got the card that you actually want in your collection, or you can actually work out a trade. Let's say for example somebody's got that exact card and you can work out an exact trade or maybe you've got to use that card and a little bit of cash to get the new card. Whatever it is that you want to do there, but just make sure when you're doing a trade at that particular value it's probably always best to do that one in person.

#4: How hot the market is right now for that particular player.

We've seen this with cards all over the map the last few years. All of a sudden a player picks up some momentum in the playoffs and becomes very, very, hot. Collectors are picking them up because maybe they haven't thought about the player in a while or they're like “Hey you know I'd like to add that guy into my collection.” We saw this for example with Damian Lillard's 2012 Prizm PSA 10 last year. Of course he was dominating the playoffs when they came back in and started playing again. He was averaging 40 something a game. I mean just going crazy and this Prizm PSA 10 got all the way to like $3,000 and it was just insanity. Then after he got knocked out of the playoffs, that thing got all the way down to $700. So imagine if you were in that card at $700 and it got up to $3,000. That would be a good time to sell. I mean is Damian Lillard's Prizm card gonna be worth more than $3,000 at some point in the future? I mean maybe, but why take that chance? You've got a really good return. You've already over 3x your money. I would have sold it at that $3,000 mark. Now of course, hindsight is always 20/20. I mean even if you could have sold it at $2,000 I think that still would have been a good fair price for that card.

#5: 10x or 20x return!

We've seen this one a lot with people that got into the hobby a lot earlier than others, and particularly in the 2000’s. They've 10x or 20x their money already on a card. Take for example that LeBron James 2003 Topps chrome. There were probably a lot of people in that card at $2,000, $3,000, or $4,000 dollars, and that card got up to $38,000. I mean if you're into that card for so little money it might be a decent time to go ahead and cash out of that card. Move on to another card in the hobby that maybe you couldn't previously afford, or if you want to do something else with that money, but that's a very hard profit to turn down. 10x and sometimes 20x for some people that have gotten into maybe like Luka Doncic cards when they were really, really, cheap. $5, $10, $15 ungraded, they got them graded and got PSA 10’s and now they're $2,000 cards. I mean just insanity. It might be time to move on when you get to that 10x and 20x level, all right.

#6: Personal Financial Situation

Something in your personal life that comes up financially. Now if you've got a big time card, let's go back to that $10,000 card for example, and you haven't set up your kids college fund yet, or maybe you haven't been on that vacation yet with your family in a couple years, or you got a baby on the way. That's a huge one. You never quite know what those costs are going to be. You want to do a down payment on the house. That's another big one as well. I mean those are all legit reasons. Take an example here. We just went in with our neighbor on getting a pontoon boat, and boats are super, super, expensive if you've never owned one. My wife is a lake girl, both of my girls are lake girls, and they want to get out on the lake this year, and it's just like “am I gonna be holding on to this particular card here just because, you know, I think it's gonna maybe go up another $5,000 or $10,000? Or am I gonna go ahead and buy that boat and get all these experiences and memories that are going to last an absolute lifetime?” I mean it's hard to sit in that chair and tell those three people no. So always sell something if you get a chance to do that. Of course, don't be going into debt on doing a boat; those things are money pits, but if you get a chance to do something like that man sell the card you will feel so much better about it in the long term.

That's what I'm all about is long-term health in the hobby, but also for our personal finances and all of our relationships as well.

#7: Hobby interests are changing.

You're just not interested in the hobby anymore, and this is okay to admit. I mean everybody gets burned out sometimes. People come into the hobby, they leave the hobby for a while, and you know then they come back again. It really just depends on what your current situation is. But hey if you're burnt out, it's okay man. Say “you know what, I don't want to be involved in cards anymore. Maybe I want to do autographs, or I want to do crypto, or I want to do something else, stocks.” Whatever it is that you want to do, it's okay to admit it. You can always come back to the hobby, but don't feel like you're anchored into the hobby because you've put so much money into it and now you've got all these cards. If you're not interested anymore, sell the cards. Move on to something else that interests you. Life is so short man. Follow that passion, whatever it is, and use your sports card collection to help fund that. So hopefully this helps you decide whether or not to sell a card.

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