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The problem you mention is the traditional one when individuals buy bonds. You must usually hold them to maturity because selling them prior to maturity usually means you can only sell to your brokers bond desk at whatever price they are willing to offer you.

Secondly, you usually do not know what the market value of the bonds is because most are traded over the counter and prices of sales are not published. (Even bonds listed on the exchanges are rarely traded with small investors at published prices.)

Brokers usually call this the bid ask spread. They make money off the differential between what they buy them for and what they sell them for. The differential can be quite large and there is little you can do about it other than get quotes from several bond dealers before you accept one.

But note that many factors seem to be involved. Small lots of bonds are especially difficult to sell.

You could be better off to 1) take a close look at when the bonds mature, and 2) consider using them as collateral for a bank loan rather than selling them if you need cash sooner. Hold them to maturity if you can manage it; sell them only if you must.
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