Best Online Appraisal Services

Heritage Auctions is our top pick for all valuables

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Do you have some old antiques passed down from a family member just taking up space in your attic? Or maybe you've come across some amazing garage sale finds and wonder what they may be worth. If you are looking to sell some of your valuables or get a formal appraisal for insurance or tax purposes, you'll need a reputable online appraisal service.

We’ve put together our top picks for online appraisal services to help you find the best place to find the value of your collectibles. While some offer simple free estimates, others provide formal valuation services to help you document and protect your valuables. Whether you have a small collection of jewelry, or a large collection of fine art, these are the best places to get your items appraised online.

Best Online Appraisal Services of 2021

Best Overall: Heritage Auctions

Heritage Auctions

Heritage Auctions

Why We Chose It: As one of the largest online auction houses, Heritage Auctions provides free and paid expert online appraisals for antiques, coins, sports memorabilia, art, and much more.

Pros
  • Free appraisals available online

  • Easy-to-use online submission form

  • Paid appraisals from experts

Cons
  • Free appraisals are for auction purposes only

  • Paid appraisals may take up to 4 weeks

Heritage Auctions was founded in 1976 and has become one of the largest auction houses in the U.S. It has since grown to become one of the largest online auction houses, and staff in-house experts, including numismatic experts, licensed appraisers, gemologists, and more.

Heritage offer two types of appraisals:

  • Free appraisal: This appraisal service is for those looking to consign items with Heritage for sale at auction, though there is no obligation to sell. Users can quickly submit their item details online, including uploading pictures, and an appraisal will be emailed.
  • Professional appraisal: Heritage has a team of experts on staff and offers paid appraisal services that are valid for legal or insurance purposes. Appraisal costs vary by type of appraisal and items to be appraised. You will need to contact one of the experts directly for a quote and details on the paid appraisal service.

Appraisals are available for all types of items, including currency and coins, art, antiques, jewelry, sports memorabilia, historical items, and other collectibles. Heritage also provides price guides for items for a quick reference on industry prices.

To get started with Heritage free appraisals, fill out the online appraisal form and attach pictures of your items if you have them. If you are interested in professional appraisal services, contact one of Heritage's appraisal experts directly.

Most Reputable: Sotheby's

Sotheby's

Sotheby's

Why We Chose It: Sotheby’s has built a reputation for high-quality appraisals and auctions for valuable collectibles, such as fine art, jewelry, and other items. With over 250 years in business, it is the industry standard for luxury valuations.

Pros
  • On-staff experts in fine art, jewelry, etc.

  • Free appraisals available

  • Formal appraisal services

Cons
  • Free evaluations may take up to 7 business days

  • Free appraisals assume you consign your items with Sotheby's

Sotheby’s is the oldest and largest auction house for fine art and jewelry in the world. In business since 1744, the house has built a stellar industry reputation and expanded to operate online and locally in over 40 countries around the world.

Sotheby's offers free price estimates for jewelry, fine art, and other collectibles online, allowing users to submit item details and photos for evaluation. It also provides valuation services for tax and insurance purposes, designed for high-end collections and items.

To get started with a free Sotheby's estimate, fill out a simple online form and submit it. Evaluations take up to seven business days. For paid valuations, contact the valuations team directly for details.

Best for Instant Quotes: WorthPoint

WorthPoint

WorthPoint

Why We Chose It: WorthPoint aggregates historical auction data to show the most up-to-date valuations for fine art, jewelry, and other collectibles. This gives users instant access to value their own items.

Pros
  • Online valuations from over 550 million items

  • Authentication tools available online

  • Free trial available

Cons
  • Monthly fee for access

  • No formal appraisal service available

WorthPoint is an online valuation service that collects historical auction data on collectibles to help users determine the value of their items. The site has amassed a database of over 550 million historical prices for fine art, antiques, jewelry, and collectibles.

WorthPoint also has a collection of over one billion photographs as well as a “marks” library to help users authenticate their own items. WorthPoint is a paid service but gives instant pricing valuations based on historical and real-time auction pricing.

To get started with WorthPoint, users can sign up for a free seven-day trial (and look up pricing on seven items). After the free trial, users pay a monthly fee for access to the library (roughly $23.99 per month or $199 per year).

Best for Real Estate: Zillow

Zillow

Zillow

Why We Chose It: Zillow is the foremost home valuation service available online. With millions of data points from publicly available and user-submitted information, Zillow offers house price estimates that are typically within 2% of a home's actual selling price.

Pros
  • Free to use

  • Over 25 years’ worth of data to value homes

  • Usually within 2% of actual selling price

Cons
  • Not an official appraisal

  • Cannot be used for insurance or tax purposes

  • May be inaccurate, depending on your locale

Zillow is the original home estimate service available online and has been in the business of providing free home valuations since 2006. Users can find a free valuation of most homes in the U.S., and homeowners can “claim” their home and update the details on Zillow to get a more accurate “Zestimate.” However, these valuations are not official appraisals, and cannot be used when purchasing, refinancing, or insuring a home.

Zillow also purchases homes through its Zillow Offers service and also manages rental properties, among other services.

To get a free estimated value online, simply go to Zillow’s online valuation tool, input an address, and Zillow will instantly show you the home’s value.

Best for Antiques: Christie’s

Christie’s

Christie’s

Why We Chose It: Christie’s is a long-standing auction house that provides free auction valuations as well as formal appraisal services for antiques, including fine and decorative arts, jewelry, photographs, collectibles, wine, and more.

Pros
  • Free estimates for auction value

  • Formal appraisal services

  • On-staff antique experts

  • Valuation days for in-person appraisals

Cons
  • Formal appraisals may take weeks (or more)

  • Free estimates only available on items Christie's approves

Christie's was founded in 1766 and is one of the largest high-end auction houses in the world. The company specializes in antiques, fine art, and rare collectibles of high value. It offers free appraisals online for items clients wish to consign with Christie’s, as well as formal appraisals for tax and insurance purposes.

Christie’s has an expert team that specifically manages estates, trusts, and appraisals for high-value collections. It not only provides appraisal services but can also help clients transition their antiques and collectibles from one generation to another, as well as provide formal evaluations for IRS and insurance purposes.

For free appraisals, users can submit the details and photographs of their items through Christie’s online form. For a formal appraisal service, contact Christie’s appraisal team for more details.

Best for Insurance Purposes: Bonhams

Bonhams

Bonhams

Why We Chose It: Bonhams offers formal appraisal services on the basis of retail replacement or open market values that can be used for insuring your art or collectibles.

Pros
  • Formal insurance valuation appraisal services

  • On-staff experts available online or in-person

  • Free estimates available for consignment purposes

Cons
  • Valuations between U.K., E.U., and U.S. differ

  • Results may take weeks (or more)

  • Fees based on hourly/daily rate

Bonhams is a top-rated global auction house that offers free and formal appraisals. With a focus on fine art and jewelry, Bonhams has experienced jewelers and gemologists on staff, as well as appraisal experts to help value your items for estate and insurance purposes.

While free appraisals are only for auction estimates, formal appraisals are a more in-depth evaluation of your items, with the purpose of providing an accurate replacement value. The appraisal report can be supplied in a variety of formats including; a bound document, a password-protected webpage, or a PDF document. Bonhams will also arrange follow-up appraisals to ensure the valuation of your items is always up to date.

If you are interested in an insurance valuation from Bonhams, email valuations@bonhams.com and an expert will be in touch.

Best for Appraisal Certificate: Value My Stuff

Value My Stuff

Value My Stuff

Why We Chose It: Value My Stuff is a simple online appraisal platform that provides a certificate of value for replacement or auction estimate purposes. 

Pros
  • Easy-to-use online form submission

  • Appraisal certificate emailed as PDF within 24-48 hours

  • Item valuations and certificates can be managed online

Cons
  • Prices start at $30 per item

  • No information about “in house experts” available

Value My Stuff is a new online appraisal service that works with “auction house experts” to give appraisals for your items online. Appraisals are turned around within 24-48 hours and start at about $30 for a single item. If you need to evaluate multiple items, larger blocks of “credits” can be purchased at a discounted price.

All appraisals come with an official certificate, emailed to you via PDF. These certificates list the auction and replacement value (for insurance purposes), though they do not provide “authentication” for your items. 

Value My Stuff is a simple online appraiser for tracking your collectibles, obtaining appraisal certificates for your items, and getting real-world valuations from auction house experts. To get started with Value My Stuff, simply fill out their online form, attach any relevant pictures, and pay for the service to submit.

Final Verdict

Appraising your belongings online can feel like a scam, but there are many legitimate businesses that can get you real-world valuations to help you understand what your property is worth. If you are looking for a simple price valuation to see what your items will sell for, using a free appraisal service will help you get a relatively accurate market price. Services like Zillow (for real estate) and WorthPoint (for collectibles) use real-world selling price data to show you what you can expect from selling your personal property.

If you need a formal appraisal for insurance or tax purposes, working with a bespoke auction house service, such as Sotheby’s, Bonhams, or Christie’s, will give you a more detailed report from an industry expert, which is valid in a court of law. We chose Heritage Auctions as our top pick for its extensive offerings of free and paid expert online appraisals.

How to Choose the Best Online Appraisal Services

When looking to have your valuables appraised, there are a few things to look for in an appraiser:

Industry Reputation: Make sure the company appraising your belongings has a history of providing great service and evaluating items like yours. Auctions houses with centuries of experience or a company with positive media mentions is a plus.

Certified Experts: When looking to appraise jewelry, art, or other valuables, finding someone who is industry certified is a must.

Transparent Pricing: Don’t sign up for a service without seeing all the details on what it will cost. Some online appraisal services show you exactly what it will cost, while others require you to talk with an expert to price the evaluation.

Easy to Use: If you’re getting an appraisal online, a confusing or outdated website is only going to make the process more difficult. Look for well-designed online tools to help you submit the details of your item securely.

Online Appraisal Services vs. Desktop Appraisal

While both online appraisals and desktop appraisals can refer to getting an appraisal without physical inspection of your items, desktop appraisals are more commonly referred to in real estate appraisals. 

Online appraisal services typically refer to free or paid appraisals for items such as art, antiques, currency, or other collectibles. These services help individuals find the value of their belongings, and can help with insurance and tax purposes as well.

A “desktop appraisal” refers to a home or property appraisal that occurs at the "desk" of the appraiser based on home details, photos, and tax records. Most real estate transactions require the appraisal of a property or home, which usually means a physical inspection from a professional appraiser. But in some cases, a desktop appraisal will suffice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Online Appraisal Services Expensive?

Most online appraisal services are not expensive, but some can be. In fact, many of them are free when being used for auction estimates, but formal appraisals can get very expensive, with some billed by the hour or at a daily rate.

Can I Receive an Instant Quote Using Online Appraisal Services?

Some services provide instant pricing estimates, such as Zillow (for homes) and WorthPoint (for valuables). These estimates are basic valuations for selling the item and cannot be used for insurance or tax purposes. Most appraisals will take at least 48 hours or more for an official, written appraisal.

Do Online Appraisal Services Use Experts to Conduct Valuations?

Quality online appraisal services will have on-staff certified gemologists, antique appraisers, auction house experts, and other industry experts to review your valuables. Other online services don’t employ the experts, but rather, consult with them to get their direct valuation for your items.

Can I Obtain a Certificate for Insurance Purposes Using Online Appraisal Services?

Many online appraisals provide a PDF valuation certificate that contains a “replacement value” that can be used by insurance companies to insure your items. That said, most of the free appraisal services do not provide certificates of valuation and are simply for re-selling or auction estimate purposes.

Methodology

We reviewed 11 online appraisal services and chose the best ones based on industry reputation, expertise, pricing, ease of use, and transparency. We looked for companies that offer a variety of appraisal services, including free value estimates, as well as formal appraisal services for insurance and tax purposes.

We only included online appraisers that work directly with industry experts and licensed professionals that can accurately evaluate valuable items, such as fine art, jewelry, currency, and other collectibles. While many of the services may be expensive due to offering personalized evaluations of higher-end items, we included many free options for online appraisals as well as low-cost services for formal appraisals.