No matter what the economic situation may be, nobody's immune to finding themselves in need of quick cash. If you've found yourself in a position where you need to liquidate something fast, a local pawn shop may be the solution that you need. Pawn shops can help you whether you're just looking for a short-term loan till payday or you want to sell something outright. Unfortunately, some people hesitate to do business with a pawn shop solely because they don't really understand the process. Here are a few things that you should know to help you make the most of the situation.

Make Sure You Understand the Loan Terms

Pawn shop loans aren't like a traditional bank loan, and they're also different from a payday loan. Don't go into a pawn shop for a loan assuming that you already understand the terms just because you've worked with a local payday loan company - it's a totally different experience. You don't need to worry about being taken advantage of in pawn shops as you could be in other places, because they are regulated by more than a dozen federal statues in addition to any existing local or state laws.

Pawn shops usually loan a percentage of the value of the item you bring in on the understanding that you'll pay the loan amount plus the interest and any other fees by the date determined on the loan papers. Every pawn shop has different loan terms, so while the pawn shop down the road might ask for payment within 30 days, the one across town may allow you to make small payments weekly provided that you pay it within 90 days.

You also need to clarify how long the pawn shop will hold your item if you're late on a payment. Typically called a grace period, some pawn shops will offer you a day or two to pay the loan in full and reclaim the item before they put it out in the shop for sale. Don't assume that every shop has the same grace period, either. Some may not even offer one, putting your item out for sale the day after you miss your payment. These are important things to know about, because they could be important factors in getting your item back.

Some pawn shops have a longer grace period so that they can investigate the item and ensure that it isn't stolen before putting it out for sale. In those cases, you might be able to get the item back before that period is over, but you should expect to pay a higher fee due to the missed payment. Ask about a fee schedule when you borrow so that you are prepared.

You Can Always Try to Negotiate

Some inexperienced and first-time pawn shop customers believe that they have no room for negotiation at all and that they must either accept or decline the amount offered by the pawn agent. The truth is, you have the freedom to shop around and negotiate. Don't hesitate to price the item with several shops to get the best price if you have time. Just remember to ask for the quote in writing with a note saying how long it's valid so that you know exactly what your options are.

Also, while some are more open to negotiation than others, you can always try to negotiate the amount that's offered. If you're offered an amount that you feel is close, but you were hoping for a little more, you don't have to be afraid of countering the offer. Make sure you can justify it, though. Being able to justify the amount you ask for (either by documentation or other details) may increase your chances of having your counter offer matched by the broker.

For example, if you're pawning a piece of jewelry, bring an appraisal. When you have the appraisal to show the broker, you may have a better chance of getting a loan for closer to the amount that the piece is worth.

Your local pawn shop could prove to be a trustworthy place to get the cash you need when you're facing an emergency. Talk with a local pawnbroker (like those from Desert Jewelry Mart & Coins) today to see what your options are.