Search This Site

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

In Response to Reality Check On Overstreet Guide Prices and Comic Values!


Recently, I read a letter to CBG by a certain someone who claimed that the Overstreet Price Guide values were extremely over-inflated. The man has been a collector and seller of golden and silver age comics for over 20 years and decided to write CBG about his concerns back in 2008. CBG decided to publish his letter online.

You can read it also by visiting the link here if you desire.

Why am I responding to this letter, especially since it was written five years ago? Well, the author addressed a very important subject that I think those investing in comics should know.

So basically in the letter, the author complains about the reality of Overstreet Guide values being highly more than the actual market value and demand. Here's his quote:

I have to say that most books that I have dealt with, as far as prices realized, do not even come close to what Overstreet lists as values, I don’t care if it’s high grade superhero golden age, or low grade silver age.

I think I should add the author mainly sells at comic conventions and ebay. However, I agree with basically one aspect of his rant.

Now, if we're talking about most modern age comics, then he is absolutely right. You won't even be able to sell most modern age comics at cover prices on ebay.

Even if we're talking about most common issue silver and bronze age comics, you'd probably be selling them for way under Overstreet guide prices on ebay. This is mostly true if they're raw, ungraded comics, which is why I generally don't like unslabbed (raw) comics, nor do I bother with most common issues from any comic era. If I can get a really super deal on them, I may consider it.

Most common issues usually don't sell that great. Unless they are CGC high grade silver or bronze age common issues of a popular title, they might sell near or over guide, but even that is a toss up most of the time.

An unslabbed, raw complete run may look great on paper, but when it comes to selling them, especially as a collection or comic lot, is pretty much a huge loss. Having complete runs often forces you to sell that collection in bulk, and selling a collection in bulk for any title greatly hinders your options in where to sell them for a decent price.

If you don't believe me, do a search on ebay for complete comic runs, and you'll see what I'm talking about. Or, better yet, you can click this link here to see what silver age complete runs sold for on ebay.

Then again, what average collector really has the money to get all these common issues at CGC 9.4 grades? I'd rather get the highest grade CGC key issues that I can afford. At least, they're easier to sell at various places other than ebay, and you'll most likely get near or even over guide prices for many of them.

Nevertheless, the real kicker that made my blood boil a tad was when the author said this about comic dealers purchasing comics:
Hello! One of your faithful long time subscribers here! I wanted to bring up an issue that has not really been addressed & discussed thoroughly & it has become a bit more crucial in these economic times: Overstreet price guide values. I know you guys publish your own guide, but there are a lot of people that use the old stand by, particularly the general public looking to sell their comics. I have been an active buyer & seller of Golden age/Silver/Bronze books for well over 20 years at various local shows, the Chicago comic con, and on ebay, I am also an active buyer of vintage books, so I do feel I do have some long term insight on the market. I have to say that most books that I have dealt with, as far as prices realized, do not even come close to what Overstreet lists as values, I don’t care if it’s high grade superhero golden age, or low grade silver age. This is not just ebay prices I’m talking here, it’s at the shows as well! It’s made buying books from the general public almost impossible, especially when they see these wildly over inflated prices, they think that we are trying to lowball them, when in fact, most books will never come close to actually realizing these prices listed in our “bible”. I know it’s not just me. I am hoping you will publish this in the letters section of your magazine as well! Please, let’s really talk about in depth on this issue!
I would also like to see many more market reports in your fine publication on the heart of the comic book market (gold through bronze).
- See more at: http://www.cbgxtra.com/oh-so-speak-your-mind/reality-check-on-overstreet-prices#sthash.77IUBfMc.dpuf
This is not just ebay prices I’m talking here, it’s at the shows as well! It’s made buying books from the general public almost impossible, especially when they see these wildly over inflated prices, they think that we are trying to lowball them, when in fact, most books will never come close to actually realizing these prices listed in our “bible”. - See more at: http://www.cbgxtra.com/oh-so-speak-your-mind/reality-check-on-overstreet-prices#sthash.77IUBfMc.dpuf
This is not just ebay prices I’m talking here, it’s at the shows as well! It’s made buying books from the general public almost impossible, especially when they see these wildly over inflated prices, they think that we are trying to lowball them, when in fact, most books will never come close to actually realizing these prices listed in our “bible”. - See more at: http://www.cbgxtra.com/oh-so-speak-your-mind/reality-check-on-overstreet-prices#sthash.77IUBfMc.dpuf
This is not just ebay prices I’m talking here, it’s at the shows as well! It’s made buying books from the general public almost impossible, especially when they see these wildly over inflated prices, they think that we are trying to lowball them, when in fact, most books will never come close to actually realizing these prices listed in our “bible”. - See more at: http://www.cbgxtra.com/oh-so-speak-your-mind/reality-check-on-overstreet-prices#sthash.77IUBfMc.dpuf

This is not just ebay prices I’m talking here, it’s at the shows as well! It’s made buying books from the general public almost impossible, especially when they see these wildly over inflated prices, they think that we are trying to lowball them, when in fact, most books will never come close to actually realizing these prices listed in our “bible”. 
This is not just ebay prices I’m talking here, it’s at the shows as well! It’s made buying books from the general public almost impossible, especially when they see these wildly over inflated prices, they think that we are trying to lowball them, when in fact, most books will never come close to actually realizing these prices listed in our “bible”. - See more at: http://www.cbgxtra.com/oh-so-speak-your-mind/reality-check-on-overstreet-prices#sthash.77IUBfMc.dpuf
I have to say that most books that I have dealt with, as far as prices realized, do not even come close to what Overstreet lists as values, I don’t care if it’s high grade superhero golden age, or low grade silver age. This is not just ebay prices I’m talking here, it’s at the shows as well! It’s made buying books from the general public almost impossible, especially when they see these wildly over inflated prices, they think that we are trying to lowball them, when in fact, most books will never come close to actually realizing these prices listed in our “bible”. - See more at: http://www.cbgxtra.com/oh-so-speak-your-mind/reality-check-on-overstreet-prices#sthash.77IUBfMc.dpuf
This is not just ebay prices I’m talking here, it’s at the shows as well! It’s made buying books from the general public almost impossible, especially when they see these wildly over inflated prices, they think that we are trying to lowball them, when in fact, most books will never come close to actually realizing these prices listed in our “bible”. - See more at: http://www.cbgxtra.com/oh-so-speak-your-mind/reality-check-on-overstreet-prices#sthash.77IUBfMc.dpuf
This is not just ebay prices I’m talking here, it’s at the shows as well! It’s made buying books from the general public almost impossible, especially when they see these wildly over inflated prices, they think that we are trying to lowball them, when in fact, most books will never come close to actually realizing these prices listed in our “bible”. - See more at: http://www.cbgxtra.com/oh-so-speak-your-mind/reality-check-on-overstreet-prices#sthash.77IUBfMc.dpuf
This is not just ebay prices I’m talking here, it’s at the shows as well! It’s made buying books from the general public almost impossible, especially when they see these wildly over inflated prices, they think that we are trying to lowball them, when in fact, most books will never come close to actually realizing these prices listed in our “bible”. - See more at: http://www.cbgxtra.com/oh-so-speak-your-mind/reality-check-on-overstreet-prices#sthash.77IUBfMc.dpuf

I have to say that most books that I have dealt with, as far as prices realized, do not even come close to what Overstreet lists as values, I don’t care if it’s high grade superhero golden age, or low grade silver age. This is not just ebay prices I’m talking here, it’s at the shows as well! It’s made buying books from the general public almost impossible, especially when they see these wildly over inflated prices, they think that we are trying to lowball them, when in fact, most books will never come close to actually realizing these prices listed in our “bible”. - See more at: http://www.cbgxtra.com/oh-so-speak-your-mind/reality-check-on-overstreet-prices#sthash.77IUBfMc.dpuf
One main reason why it's hard to buy comics, especially valuable key comics, from the general public if you're a comic dealer is because the public is a lot more aware and less ignorant. I am hoping that I have something to do with that as well.

Now, if you've ever sold your comics to a comic dealer, in which I have and learned from my mistake, you would know that -

1. Comic dealers pay 30% or lower for a comic's grade value!

That means if I sold my Giant Size X-Men #1 CGC graded 9.4 that's guided around $1,400, I'd only get $420 if I'm lucky enough to get it for 30% of guide value from a comic dealer. 

2. Some comic dealers will appraise the comics' grades lower than what they really are to pay less for your comics and increase their potential profits. To be fair, a lot of times most comic owners have an inflated views of their comics' grades as well.

This is only done with raw comics, which is why I always stress CGC! And they do do this! I've actually seen it in action a few times. There's a reason why comic dealers have the reputation of "low balling" those who make the mistake of selling off their collection to them.

3. After you've lost money selling your comics to a comic dealer, they will then price those comics at or near their graded Overstreet values.

Now, if these comics are over-inflated and will "never come close to actually realizing these prices," then why is it that comic dealers then try to turn those comics around near their Overstreet values for that particular grade? That sounds a bit shady hypocritical to me.

Amazing Spider-Man #300 cover
Well, let's talk about the realization of some Overstreet values when it comes to the comic market place on ebay. In May of this year (2013), I sold extra copies of Amazing Spider-Man #300 and 301 in the same auction for $67.00, not including shipping. Both were in VG condition, raw, and listed as such. As usual, I took quite a bit of pictures and noted all the defects I could in the listing.

Amazing Spider-Man #300 is guided at $18.00 for VG. Amazing Spider-Man #301 is guided at $4.00 for VG. Individually, the prices sold for each comic was $33.50. Minus the ebay, Pay Pal fees, shipping cost, and cost of the comics themselves, the profit was around $24.00 per book.
 
Another example is when I sold my extra copy of Uncanny X-Men #141, which was a raw VF- for $76.00, including $4.00 shipping for a grand total of $80.00. This was also sold on ebay in the month of May 2013 also.

My fees were:

Listing fees: None
10% Final Value Fee: $7.60
10% ebay Shipping Fee: .40
Pay Pal Fee: $2.62
Shipping Fee: $3.95
------------------------------------------ 
Total Fees: $14.57

X-Men #141 cover pictureSo, my profit was $65.43. What's the guide value of X-Men #141? It's listed as $34.00 for a solid VF. That price was more than realized and even sold over guide. Then again, I did sell this comic, as with ASM #300, when both were extremely hot on the market, and both comics did make my list of the top key X-Men comics and the top Amazing Spider-Man key issues to invest in. You can click on both of the links to see what those key issue comics are.

So, yes, not only did the comics sell over their over-inflated prices, but I also got a pretty good return on investment for them. Not great, but better than if I sold them to the letter's author or another comic dealer.


Giant Size X-Men #1 CGC 9.4 image
Now, I do agree that most low-grade, unslabbed common issues sold on ebay are sold way under guide, but the author of the letter stated that it didn't matter whether they were high grade or low grade comics. That's wrong.

In July, a Captain America #104 CGC 9.4 sold for $199 bucks. The guide price for that comic at that grade is around $140-$150.

To further my point, an Iron Man #36 CGC 9.4 sold for $79.55. Guide has that issue tagged around $50, and like the Captain America #104, Iron Man #36 is a common issue.

Although the letter was a rant about the over-inflated Overstreet Guide prices, I think the real reason behind it is that the author was mainly pissed that it's harder to rip off the general public when it comes to buying their comics super cheap. When it comes to that, there's no way I'm willing to sell comics I invested in for 30% or less of it's guide value to him or any other comic dealer. Would the author of that letter be willing to do that? I didn't think so.

Now, don't get me wrong here. What the author and comic dealers do is the nature of the business. As I've always said before, it isn't their job to pay you what you're comics are worth. It's their job to sell comics and make money.

However, on the flip side. It's your investment comics and your job to research and learn how to get the most return out of your comic investments. It's not your job to make sure comic dealers can get your comics on the cheap to profit from.

The problem with this guy's pathetic rant, is that many comic dealers still are able to get valuable comics cheaply. Maybe not as often as before, but there are actually still people who bring in their comics to comic shops to sell at or even lower than 30% of guide value. Why people still do this is beyond me. I guess, some are desperate for cash which is understandable. Things happen in life.

However, some are just lazy and don't want to be bothered. A lot of times they inherited these comics, which is why if my kids show no interest in learning about comics they ain't getting my collection. No way am I going to give anyone investments that I worked hard to accumulate over the years just so they can sell my thousand dollar or higher comics for two-hundred each. I've also seen this happen as well.

Anyways, the guy who wrote the letter is only using ebay as his main gateway in selling comics to make a profit, and that is extremely hard. Talk about competition!

He doesn't have a brick and mortar store where ignorant or desperate people can bring in their comics so he can "low ball" them and get their comics for pennies on the dollar. He probably didn't even have his own online comic site during the time he wrote that letter.

Which brings to me to the other main reason why it's harder for comic dealers to shaft comic collectors when selling, and that's because there are more available options for the general public to sell their comics other than to just dealers. If you invest in the right comics, selling them will be so much easier with the invention of the internet. I'm not just talking about selling comics on ebay either.

In some cases, you may want to sell comics on ebay if you check what comics you have that are dropping (majority wise) near or over their grade and guide values. There are some that will as I've shown you from my personal examples, but watch out. Ebay and Pay Pal fees chew heavily into the returns on your comics. You have to calculate whether you'll make a profit on your return that satisfies when you sell comics on ebay.

On the flip side, you may not want to sell certain comics on ebay, because you may get even less money back on them than from a comic dealer. There are other avenues to sell comics online like Comic Connect, ComicLink, and mycomicshop.com where you can consign your comics. The fees are even less than ebay with some around 12%, 10%, and even less at some other places. You still do have to pay for shipping to ship the comics out to the company, however.

Incredible Hulk 181 cover
Like I said, it's all about the right comics you invested in. Places like ComicLink, ComicConnect, and mycomicship are still picky about what they allow you to submit to them for consignments. Certain comics must meet a certain grade in order for them to be willing to sell your comics in their market place. Also, there's a minimum value comics must be worth in order to be sold as consignments at these online comic market places as well. Most even have auctions every month, but as far as I know, they do not have auctions for entire collections or complete runs. Why else do you think I'm so coo-coo over key issue comics?

So, if you have a bunch of common issues that aren't high grade or not graded by CGC or PGX, you severely limit your options in places to sell those particular comics and getting decent prices in return in terms of the market place today. That could change in the not so distant future, but it's the reality now.

When I research what I've sold for what and what's selling for what, I see the opposite of what this guy is ranting about. The Overstreet Guide prices are way under-valued on quite a few comics as well.

I know Overstreet is not perfect, but Overstreet is pretty much the standard in the comic market. Thousands of comic retailers and collectors use the guide to determine what to price their comics for sale as well as at what price to buy. 

Despite his complaints, I'm betting the author of that letter uses the Overstreet Guide, too. He's just pissed that it's harder to "low ball" the general comic collecting public out of  their comics for cheap nowadays.

And, I'm personally glad that it is!

6 comments:

  1. Hey TCM,

    I was just wondering if you have any tips on how to price CGC graded comics when selling on Ebay. For example, we all know that the Ant-Man movie is coming out in about 1 month and the Marvel Premiere 47 & 48 are heating up. I have both book but they happen to be CGC SS at 9.0 and 9.2 respectively. I am struggling with whether or not to sell them before the movie comes out and if so how much to put them on the all-mighty ebay for. Any words of wisdom?

    -GN

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gocollect or look up eBay's sold prices. If there are none for CGC SS at your grade look up Universal prices at that grade.

      Also depends on whose signature it is. If Stan Lee, he usually commands $100 to $200 depending on the key issue. Not always the case though.

      Look up prices on eBay for current auctions. Are there any CGC SS 9.0s listed? Whose signature is it? Find out what other sellers are asking and determine if they're selling or not by looking up the completed listings. You should be able to gauge prices for buying and selling that way.

      Delete
  2. First off, I am the writer of the “pathetic rant” you are referring to. I’m going overlook your personal opinion/assault of my character & will address your post in detail. I am a little insulted by some of your statements, so I wanted to respond in depth. I must also state, I have been a regular browser of your site for some time, and have overall enjoyed your site/articles.

    First off, let’s talk about buying comic collections. Most people that are active vintage comic book buyers, especially Key Book/CGC/High Grade (investment minded) buyers are quite familiar with the market, and know the best places to maximize their returns when they decide to sell. They generally are not going to bring their CGC and key comic books down to a traditional comic book store or dealer when the time comes to sell their books. Again, they already know where to sell & how to sell. Most people that visit your site, are most likely already advanced collectors themselves
    (continued)

    ReplyDelete
  3. What kind of people are most likely bring their books into stores or dealers? The general public, NOT knowledgeable comic book aficionados with all kinds of high grade/key/CGC Marvel/DC Super-Hero books! Rarely do entire collections of choice/easy to sell material get offered all at once to a dealer. Many collections don’t even have many/any premium Marvel & DC Super Hero comics within the collection, let alone the “good stuff” (the key books that everyone wants & that will can sell instantly). What kind of collections does the general public bring in? Usually a mishmash/hodgepodge of all kinds of comics: Dell’s Westerns, basic Harvey titles, crappy Charlton comics, silver/bronze Archie,Classics Illustrated, a few romance comics, Gold Key titles, general funny books, 1980’s/1990’s junk, comics of recent vintage, and sometimes with a sprinkling of better items. And let's talk about grades/conditions too. While collections come in a variety of grades (mostly lower), there are sometime high grade books included. I currently have a thick stack of early 60's super high grade books including: Uncle Scrooge's from #40-60's, and they are in spectacular NM condition. Current OPG value? $240 per book, and that price is quoted for a 9.2. You can't get a fraction of those prices anywhere on any venue (in my experience). Also, I have a nice pile of VF/NM Dell & Gold-Key Zorro's that happily sell you for 30% of current OPG, these have a supposed value of around $90 each, I can't sell them at that price. How about random non-key Sea Devils or Rip Hunter in high grades, Jimmy Olsen & Lois Lane (keys excuded), how about any random silver-age Sgt Fury's (besides a few, like #1 or #13), or 12 cent Millie the Models, many other mainstream titles too. I can go on and on about books that don't fetch OPG value. My experience with the general public (and many do try to be prepared to sell by buying the OPG), is that they look at these false OPG prices, and assume the pricing is 100% accurate, it's not.
    (continued)

    ReplyDelete
  4. What you tend to speak about are key comics, and usually key comics in high grade, and/or CGC'd. Most general vintage comics are hard to sell for guide. Key books operate much differently than general vintage comics. In addition, that article was written during the recessionary/economic downturn, and also before the current movie/TV hype era, vintage comic sales were hurting for awhile, real bad! Several of the books you state that sold for more than guide (X-Men #141,etc) sold higher than guide, due to the instantaneous & unpredictable price gains that we have been experiencing in this current hot movie era we are in, by the way which is unprecedented, BUT ONLY FOR KEY BOOKS, not every book, not even most books.

    Don’t assume that everyone who buys comic collections (stores or dealers) is out to rip someone off! So, if I buy collections, I'm not supposed to make any money, or that is some unethical? If I make a profit, than in your opinion, I’m “ripping someone off”? If someone is willing to pay someone 30%-50% of the value of a collection, and saves you tons/possibly hundreds of hours of work and headache, that’s a bad thing? I am tired of people making general blatant comments like “don’t sell to a store, they will rip you off", that’s just not true. Now, I’m not suggesting that there are people who wouldn’t try to take advantage of a situation, but to make it seem like every dealer will “rip off” people, seems like a scare tactic.

    I can’t tell you the number of times, when buying collections, that I actually tell people that their comics are worth MORE than I am paying them, but that I have to make a profit for my effort, I’m not doing this as a community service, sorry. I even tell people the specific websites where they can sell their comics for more, but they also know it can be a major hassle for them. Most people that sell comic collections to dealers and stores, don’t want to commit the time and effort it takes to do this, (it really can take a lot of time), and they just want to cash out, it’s that simple. I buy comics from people WHO DON’T want the hassles associated with retailing the comics themselves. Anyhow, I just wanted to let you know about how I see the market. I appreciate your site, but there are other perspectives to look at and consider. I have made many people happy with respectable offers, and it's always good to have "dealers" that buy collections. It gives people one more option for a place to sell comics, and is sometimes the easiest/fastest way to liquidate & get paid ASAP.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In the words of the immortal comic book guy- Worst. Response. Ever. All those words, but in short just basically saying: you can"t do that!! only I can do that!!

      Delete