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Bidding on eBay: Do Your Research First

Preparation is the key to getting the best deal when you bid on eBay.

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eBay is the shopping meca of the Internet. You can buy almost anything,usually at a good competitive price. But before you just click on and start bidding, you may want to review some of the strategies used by successful bidders.

Determining What Motivates the Seller to Sell

Anytime you are trying to purchase something from someone it helps to know what motivates them to sell. Of course for most, it is the prospect of making money, but how much profit they hope to make is what one really wants to know before getting into a bidding war.

eBay Seller Options

Sellers on eBay have some choices to make about how they will aution off their product on eBay.

(Tip: The term "reserve" is a preset price for an item that is decided on by the seller. If that price is not met during the auction period, then the seller is not obligated to sell.)

If a seller wants to attract a lot of bidders in hopes of starting a bidding war, he may decide to introduce the product at a low price with no reserve. This would also be a good direction for sellers who really do not have much to gain or lose as long as they get something for the item they wish to sell, such in slightly damaged or "as is" merchandise.

If a seller wants a guaranteed price and nothing lower, they may set the starting price to meet that minimum. This attracts bidders who are looking for a specific item and are willing to pay more to buy it.

If a seller wants to be really aggressive and attract a lot of bidders, they may set the starting price low, but place a "reserve" on it to guarantee that they get the price they need for the item. If the reserve price is not met by the end of the auction period, the seller is not obligated to sell the item.

Since placing a reserve on an item costs the seller money, many will choose the second option in order to safeguard the minimum selling price of the item.

Research Before Your Bid

Research the item you wish to bid on. If you are bidding on a Disney figurine, for example, find out what its value is, and what it is selling for on eBay. One good way to do this is to search the closed auctions to see what people paid for the item in the past.

Also do a search in "current auctions" for the item you are wanting to purchase. If, for example, it is for the Disney figurine you would type disney+figurine+goofy (or whatever characture you are wanting) into the search field and hit enter.

At this point you will want to compare product descriptions carefully. A Disney figurine made of porcelain is going to be a lot more valuable than one made of plastic. Determine what particulars are important to you. Do you want the item to come with its original packaging? Do you care if it is slightly damaged? If the product description does not answer the questions, move on to the next auction.

Wise Steps Before Bidding

One mistake many newcomers to eBay make is that they jump right into auctions with high bids in hopes of winning the auction. It is fun to win, but it may not be the most frugile or safest route to go.

First Step - Who is the Seller?

eBay has what is called "seller feedback" which is where people who have dealt with a particular seller rate their experience. For every positive remark they receive one point. For every negative remark they have a point subtracted off their total. Do not just take a high rating at face value.

Go to the next step and click on the seller's name and read the most current activity being posted. If in the last month he had more than one or two negative remarks, it would be best to skip this seller and find one that has a better rating.

Remember, a high feedback rating does not necessarily mean current happy customers.

Second Step - The Real Cost of the Item

Determine the bottom line of what the seller will really be charging for the item. Some will hike up the shipping cost or charge handling fees. By looking on the UPS website you can find what a normal charge is for shipping and insurance and see if it falls inline with what the seller is quoting. If it isn't pretty close to being the same, then the seller is untrustworthy and it is best to move on to another auction.

Third Step - Decide When to Bid

Many people hold off on bidding on an item until the end of the auction period. This is done to try to keep the price down and avoid a bidding war or to slip in at the last minute and grab an item at a super low price. Others will use the "Watch" function of eBay to monitor items they are interested in but not ready to bid on. The bidding action appears on your "My eBay" page and you can monitor the activity until your ready to jump in.

Next > Bidding on eBay: Smart Bidding Practices

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