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How to Set a Starting Price for Your eBay Item

eBay requires you to set a starting price, also called a minimum bid — the lowest bid allowed in an auction. You may be surprised to see stuff worth tens of thousands of dollars starting at just a buck. These sellers haven't lost their minds. Neither are they worried that someone could be tooling down the highway in a $100,000 sports car they bought for the price of a burger.

Setting an incredibly low minimum (just type it in the box without the dollar sign but with the decimal point) is a subtle strategy that gives you more bang for your buck. You can use a low starting price to attract more bidders who will, in turn, drive up the price to the item's real value — especially if, after doing your research, you know that the item is a hot seller.

If you're worried about the outcome of the final bid, you can protect your item by using a reserve price (the price the bidding needs to reach before the item can be sold). Then you won't have to sell your item for a bargain-basement price; your reserve price protects your investment.

The best advice is to set a reserve price that is the lowest amount you'll take for your item and then set a minimum bid that is ridiculously low. Use a reserve only when absolutely necessary because some bidders pass up reserve auctions.

The more bids you get, the more people who will want to bid on your item because they perceive the item as desirable. A hot item with lots of bids draws even more bidders the way a magnet attracts paper clips.

Before you set any starting price, do your homework and make some savvy marketing decisions. If your auction isn't going as you hoped, you could end up selling Grandma Ethel's Ming vase for a dollar. Think about your strategy.

When entering a starting price, type only the numbers and a decimal point. Don't use dollar signs ($) or cents signs (¢).

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