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Top Tips For Winning Auctions on eBay

Shopping on eBay is about getting great products whether brand name items or unique collectibles at a value price. But more than that, shopping on eBay is FUN! Participating in an eBay auction offers the same dynamic interplay of skill and psychology that makes playing Tournament Poker such a thrill. If you are new to eBay, you may find online auctions a little intimidating at first (I know I did), but don’t be deterred. And besides, who doesn’t need a little more fun in their life? If you are an eBay auction veteran, I’d love to learn and share your favorite bidding strategies.


SET A LIMIT. Have a clear idea of how valuable the item being auctioned is TO YOU and determine the maximum amount that you are willing to spend to obtain it. This will prevent you from getting caught up in the excitement of the auction and spending more money than you can afford.
DO YOUR RESEARCH. Check eBay’s Completed Auctions to see if this is something that comes up for auction on a regular basis or a one-of-a-kind item (next to the eBay search bar is a link entitled Advanced Search, click it, enter your search key words, then tick the box below entitled Completed Listings Only). Checking the completed auctions will also give you an idea of the dollar range that this item is currently selling for on eBay. The Advanced Search function also allows you to search in eBay Stores (Under the heading STORES in the menu box on the left hand side of the screen, click the subheading Items In Stores). You may find your item for sale in someone’s eBay store or on a Buy It Now basis at a price that is comparable or even cheaper than it sells for at auction.

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX. Think outside the box when searching for auctions to bid on. There are many different ways of saying the same thing (for example, hat, cap, beret, tam, fedora, and cloche). A sweater may look tan to you, but to someone else that color is beige, taupe, khaki, or camel. One person’s platter is another person’s plate or tray. Some variants are more commonly searched than others (thereby decreasing the pool of potential bidders).
BE CREATIVE. Search for misspellings of search key words (for example, Spainish versus Spanish, or Ladro versus Lladro–I can only imagine how many misspellings there may be for a word like Turquoise). Sellers often misspell key words in their auction titles and those auctions may not appear in typical buyer searches. Also, search for both the singular and plural form of the item (for example, shoe and shoes). If you are searching on a compound word–like candleholder or backpack–try making them two separate words (candle holder and back pack).
BE SELECTIVE. Although eBay is an international marketplace and people are shopping 24 hours a day 7 days a week, it still pays to seek out auctions that end at unusual times (for example, between 12:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. PST or PDT on a weekday, or between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. PST or PDT on a holiday). If there are multiple auctions for the same popular item within in a short time frame–let’s say, within a 5 minute period (or less)–focus your energies on the later ones (in the hopes that other interested parties will get jammed up bidding against each other on the earlier auctions, while you slide through largely unopposed).
CHECK THE BID HISTORY. The bid history may give you a clue as to who your competition is, how badly he or she wants the item, and how closely he or she is watching the auction (you’ll find the History link below the Item Location next to the Gallery Picture). If someone is consistently bidding on a given auction, the bidder in question wants that item BADLY. If someone has placed a bid within a half hour (or less) of the auction’s closing time, chances are that he or she is closely monitoring the outcome. In either case, your best bet is to make a big play to win the item with just seconds to go.
BID AN UNTYPICAL DOLLAR AMOUNT. Don’t bid $9.99 or $10, but $10.12. Instead of bidding $10.50, bid $10.62. Bidders naturally gravitate toward even dollar amounts, increments of .25 cents, or numbers that end in .99 cents. In a race situation, there is a good chance that you will trump the competition if you bid an odd dollar amount.
IF YOU HAVE A QUICK INTERNET CONNECTIONand are available to make a last second bid, make your last bid with about 30-45 seconds to go (or less). If the item being auctioned is vitally important to you, you might want to check out sniping software. There are programs like AuctionStealer that will automatically place your maximum bid with just seconds to go (Auctionbytes has a chart comparing different sniping programs in the Cool Tools section of its menu box).
IF YOU ARE MAKING A LAST SECOND BID on an auction, don’t raise the current bid by a few cents, raise it by a significant dollar amount. If the current bid leader has a higher maximum bid, you may not have enough time to bid again before the auction closes so make your bid count (nothing is more frustrating than losing an auction by a few pennies).
BONUS TIP–BID LIKE A PRO. Open two windows on the same auction. In the first window, go through the preliminary steps of placing a bid on your desired item (click Place Bid and enter your maximum bid amount in the box, but DO NOT press Continue). In the second window, monitor the progress of the auction refreshing the screen frequently to watch for last minute bidders. In the final seconds before the auction closes (20 seconds or less), select the first window, press the Continue tab, and click the Confirm Your Bid button.

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