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Where to Start the Bidding in Your eBay Auction

When you set the starting bids on your eBay auction, setting the bidding too high scares away new bids. Also, as in the case of the reserve-price auction, if the bidding begins too high, novices might be afraid that the bidding will go up out of sight and they'll never win the auction.

Some sellers begin the bidding at the price they paid for the item, plus an additional amount to cover fees, thereby protecting their investment. This is a good tactic, especially if you bought the item at a price far below the current going rate on eBay.

To determine the current going value for your item, use eBay's Completed Listings search. If you know that the item is selling on eBay for a certain price and that there is a demand for it, starting the bidding at a reasonably low level can be a great way to increase bidding and attract prospective bidders to read your auction.

If an item is in demand, and people are actively buying, start the bidding low. Retail stores have done this for years with ads that feature prices starting at $9.99 or $14.98. Even television commercials advertising automobiles quote a low starting price. To buy the car shown in the ad, you may end up paying twice the quoted price.

When sellers know that they have an item that will sell, they begin their bidding as low as a dollar or even a penny. Because of the eBay proxy bidding system (which maintains your highest bid as secret, increasing it incrementally when you are bid against), it takes more bids (due to the smaller bidding increments) to bring the item up to the final selling price.

The downside is that new bidders who aren't familiar with the system may bid only the minimum required increment each time they bid. This can be frustrating, and they may quit bidding because it might take them several bids to top the current bid placed by someone who's familiar with the proxy-bid system. Very few of us know the proxy increments by heart, so (as a refresher) here they are:

Proxy-Bidding Increments
Current High Bid Bid Increment
$0.01 to $0.99 $0.05
$1.00 to $4.99 $0.25
$5.00 to $24.99 $0.50
$25.00 to $99.99 $1.00
$100.00 to $249.99 $2.50
$250.00 to $499.99 $5.00
$500.00 to $999.99 $10.00
$1,000.00 to $2499.99 $25.00
$2,500.00 to $4999.99 $50.00
$5,000.00 and up $100.00
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