Buying at Auction Tips

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Where can I find bargains to resell at auction?

Win Every Time at Bulk Auctions

It's easy to win the bid every time at a bulk auction...just bring more cash than the other guy! Most units go for between $100-$500 (average about $300) and most bidders only bring about $500-$600. You never know what's behind the door; a unit could be filled with collectibles and/or antiques! Be careful and don't advertise to others which unit you are interested in. Just make sure you've got enough money to close the deal with the highest bid if you see a unit you really want.

How do I find out a good price range to win a bid at auction?

Search Completed Auctions

Search completed auctions of similar items for information, such as the selling price and the shipping costs. This will give you a good idea what you will need to bid in order to win the auction.

Should I start bidding in the auction early with one quick bid?

One Quick Opening Bid

Submit one quick bid early in the auction to establish yourself, then wait until the bidding is almost over. Otherwise, you are just building up the bidding price against yourself.

Will searching for a commonly misspelled term help find an item?

Search Using Misspelled Terms

Be careful with your spelling when searching for auction items. Alternatively, watch for the opportunity a seller's bad spelling can bring to you. If you know of a common misspelling of the item in which you are interested, put that in as a search term. Other buyers may be missing this item because of the bad spelling and you may be able to buy the item for its minimum bid. I once got a great deal on a signed photo of Keven Kostner (Costner)!

Can I get some great deals if I visit lesser used auction sites?

Visit Lesser Used Auction Sites

You can find some great deals on less popular auctions sites, such as and Yahoo. In fact, some sellers do very well by buying items on some of the lesser used sites and then reselling them on eBay.

Is it important to check the history and feedback of a seller?

Investigate Seller

Many online auctions will let people simply list the items they wish to sell without verifying the merchandise actually exists or that it is described accurately. Large companies, like eBay, cannot guarantee that every auction participant will keep their promises, so, if possible, check the history and feedback of the seller before you buy.

How can I eliminate other bidders as I get close to my maximum bid?

Increase Your Bid Amount

If you want to scare off your competition as the bidding gets close to your maximum bid, start increasing your bids by $15, $20, $25 or more. In most cases, only the most serious bidders, those who want the piece as much as you do, will stay in the game and continue bidding. If you're lucky, your competition will drop out.

Is there a way to check out the history of other bidders?

View History of Other Bidders

Check out the other bidders. eBay allows you to look at a short term history of other bidders eBay buying habits. Do the other bidders bid low hoping to get items in which no one else is interested? Or, do they bid again at the last minute. If you really want the item, it's wise to know your competition.

How can I narrow down my search for specific auction items?

Narrowing Your Search

Narrow down your search for specific items as much as possible by carefully choosing search terms. On eBay, putting quotes around words will yield results for items with that exact phrase.

Is it okay to make an offer on an item that doesn´t have any bids?

Make an Offer

It never hurts to make an offer on an item that receives no bids or doesn't reach its reserve price. Many times, the seller will be happy to make a deal with you. When someone makes me an offer after the auction, I usually agree, as long as the offer is reasonable.

Should I bid if the shipping and handling fees are not clear?

Shipping & Handling Fees

Never bid on an item if the shipping and handling fees are not clearly spelled out in the auction listing. That great deal you just got for $4.95 just might have a $20.00 or more S&H fee attached to it. Although it's against the rules, some less than scrupulous sellers make their profit on the S&H, not the actual selling price of the item.

Should I send payment for an item if the price is unreasonably low?

Too Good to Be True

If you know the price you are paying for a specific item is unreasonably low, compared to the true value of the item, think twice before you bid. This could be a case of "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

Are there some opportunities I should look for to get a bargain?

Look for Opportunities

Look for opportunities among naïve sellers. Many sellers are not familiar with the items they are selling at auction. They may not know when they have an item of value and have it listed at a very low minimum without a reserve. Another common mistake that sellers make is putting the item in the wrong category. The true collector may never find it there, making it a great bargain!

Are there some sources of information for investigating a seller?

Better Business Bureaus

Good sources of information, when investigating an auction seller, are the state or local consumer protection agencies and Better Business Bureaus in the state and city where the seller is based. Check with your local agencies and BBBs to obtain the contact information.

Should I ask the seller questions about an item?

Check Listings Carefully

Do your research! Know all exactly what you are looking for. Check the listings carefully and don't hesitate to e-mail the seller if you have questions about an item. Remember, the seller may not be an expert on the items she's selling. Search closed auctions for similar items to learn the selling prices.

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Kristle Jones