Guidelines for Bidding on a Collectible Item on eBay
If you’re just starting out on eBay, chances are you like to shop and you also collect items that interest you. You’ll find out pretty early in your eBay adventures that a lot of people online know as much about collecting as they do about bidding — and some are serious contenders.
How can you compete? Well, in addition to having a well-planned buying strategy, knowing your stuff gives you a winning edge. Bill Swoger and Lee Bernstein, two collecting experts, tell you all you need to know about online collecting basics:
Get all the facts before you put your money down. Study the description carefully. It’s your job to analyze the description and make your bidding decisions accordingly. Find out whether all original parts are included and whether the item has any flaws.
Don’t get caught up in the emotional thrill of bidding. First-time buyers tend to bid wildly, using emotions instead of brains. If you’re new to eBay, you can get burned if you just bid for the thrill of victory without thinking about what you’re doing.
It is extremely important to determine an item’s value, whether collectible or new. But because values are such flighty things (values depend on supply and demand, market trends, and all sorts of other variables), you should get a general idea of the item’s value and use this ballpark figure to set a maximum amount of money you’re willing to bid for that item.
Know what the item should cost. Buyers used to depend on price guides — books on collectibles and their values — to help them bid. Bill says that price guides are becoming a thing of the past. Sure, you can find a guide that says an original Lion King Broadway poster in excellent condition has a book price of $150, but if you do a search on eBay, you’ll see that they’re actually selling for $65 to $75.
Timing is everything, and being first costs. If you're into movie posters, for example, consider this: If you can wait three to six months after a movie is released, you can get the poster for 40 to 50 percent less. The same goes for many new releases of collectibles. Sometimes you’re wiser to wait and save money.
Be careful of presale items. Sometimes you may run across vendors selling items that they don’t have in stock but that they’ll ship to you later. Don’t bid on anything that can’t be delivered as soon as you pay for the item.
Check out the seller. Check the feedback rating (the number in parentheses next to the person’s user ID) a seller has before you buy. If the seller has many comments with a minute number of negative ones, chances are good that this is a reputable seller.