How To Sell Antiques On eBay
Why Aren't Your Antiques Bringing What You Expect On eBay?
Recently I've noticed that a big portion of the new readers of my
weekly newsletter are collectors who don't feel they're doing a good job
selling their collectibles on eBay. Usually they think this because
auction prices aren't meeting their expectations.
A big reason for lower than expected prices is the declining
market. Things are tough and people aren't buying as much. My
buyers are being more opportunistic. If you put a good or great
deal in front of them, they'll buy, but otherwise they'll just
Another reason for declining prices is there are more sellers as
collectors age and start downsizing. This increases the number of
items on eBay competing for the attention and dollars of buyers.
When you add in the sheer number of listings the average eBay
antiques shopper has to scroll past to find something good, it
becomes very hard to stand out.
As sellers we don't have any control over declining prices. We're
price takers. We take whatever someone is willing to pay.
However, we can do things to increase the chances of getting higher
Here's 23 tips for selling antiques on eBay
- Know what you are selling. This means researching your antique on
eBay to see what similar items have sold for, and to see how the
higher priced closed auctions were listed. A price guide is not as
valuable as looking at completed eBay listings.
When you're doing research, pay attention to completed auctions
that sold. This is where you'll find keywords, categories, and
other important details buyers want to know.
If there is a wide difference between selling prices, try to
understand why the more expensive antique brought higher bids. Is
it different? Was the condition better than others? Or, was it just
two bidders fighting and over paying?
- Always use titles with relevant keywords. Most eBay searches are
done with the default title only option. How to find keywords for antiques.
- List your antiques in the best categories. The best category may not be the one
eBay suggests. For example eBay will suggest a book about cast iron
toys should be listed in the books category. The book will get more
attention and bids in the cast iron toys category. How to find eBay categories.
- List similar antiques at the same time and offer shipping
discounts for buyers who win multiple auctions. This increases
cross bidding and ending prices.
- Use photographs that demonstrate the overall quality of the
antique rather than pictures that emphasize the defects. I'm not
saying you should hide damage, but rather that using images showing
defects should be inserted after overall shots. eBay picture advice.
- Know your buyer, and write your auction description for him. I
sell toy trains to collectors and operators. While both care about
condition, the operator is more interested in features than rarity.
Right now I have trains on eBay that are worth less than the
original packaging. I have one sentence describing the condition of
the train, and a paragraph about the original box. My photos also
show the boxes more than the trains.
- Use the jargon a buyer would use to describe your antique.
- Speaking of rarity, don't make exaggerated claims of rarity or
desirability. Listing something as rare or desirable when it isn't
decreases the chances an eBay shopper will look at your other
- Offer international shipping. I offer international shipping on
all but the largest and heaviest items I sell on eBay. It takes 2
minutes to fill out a customs form for a package that weighs over 4
pounds. For lighter packages it takes even less time. In many cases
the foreign bidder will come in second because his shipping cost is
- Don't use abbreviations unless they are widely used by buyers.
Do you know what "MOC" and "OOP" mean? "MOC" is "Mint on Card" and
would be familiar to some toy buyers. "OOP" means "Out of Print" or
"Out of Production" and is commonly used to describer either books
or mass produced collectibles. You'd be better served to spell out
the phrase in the description and title.
- When selling antiques on eBay focus on selling rather than on
preventing problem buyers from bidding. Keep your description
focused on the item being sold.
- Don't save time by listing a lot of unrelated items in one large
lot. I just got a box in the mail from an eBay seller who saved
some time listing her trains by just dumping them on a table
outside and then shooting a few pictures of them lying there. I
paid $26 including shipping for the box load. I'll make 10 times
that when I resell the stuff. This is called eBay Arbitrage.
- List provenance if it's important. An example of unnecessary
provenance is "I bought this at a yard sale and know nothing about
it." A good use of provenance is "This was purchased from the
original owner and has not been cleaned."
- If you don't have experience selling antiques on eBay, start by
listing cheaper items. This way if you make mistakes, they'll be
less costly. Free report Getting Started on eBay.
- Pay attention to eBay fees. I'm always surprised at the number
of people who start auctions at $10 rather than $9.99. It costs 25
cents more in eBay fees for the penny difference in starting price.
Also watch out for unhelpful yet costly listing upgrades. More on fees and listing upgrades.
- List during special promotions. I have a number of expensive,
but thinly traded items, I list during special promotions. In March
2012, the special is free insertions for auction listing to store
owners so I listed the items as auctions with high opening bids.
- Watch your sell through rate. This is the number of sold items
divided by the number of listings. This is important if your buyers
use best match to view search results and categories. Low sell
through rates lower your exposure to these shoppers.
- Use a bulk lister like TurboLister. This is a free program
provided by eBay that allows you to write and manage your auctions
- Don't beat a dead horse. I've been seeing the same overpriced
antiques listings on eBay for years. I look at the same saved
searches every week, and scroll though hundreds of these listings
in every search. Pull the listing and then run it again in a month
- Don't end your items early unless there are no bids. In the last
24 hours of my auctions the prices usually double or triple. Never
end an auction because of an offer to purchase the item outside
eBay. In every case when I rejected or ignored an offer, my antique
has sold for more than the offer.
- Don't assume eBay is the only place to sell antiques. Try a flea
market or antiques show, some ads on Craigslist, or maybe even get a booth in an antique mall.
- Systemize your eBay selling activities. If you get frustrated
while listing items on eBay, you may be disorganized. I've gone and
watched people list on eBay. In some cases I should have brought
popcorn because it was like watching a clown. Here's an explanation of my eBay selling system.
My eBay selling manual explains step-by-step how to research, list
and sell within an efficient framework. With the Auction Revolution
manual, you'll not only get higher prices on eBay, but you'll save
money on listing fees, and save time and aggravation.
Get your copy of the Auction Revolution.
Many of the articles and free reports here on IWantCollectibles were originally sent to readers of my Antiques and eBay Newsletter. Not all articles make it onto the website, and readers also get notices of free reports and special offers.
Most Popular Articles on IWantCollectibles
- Finding Products To Sell On eBay
How to find products to sell on eBay is the most common question I get from my readers. This page has links to all the articles and reports I've written about finding eBay products.
- How To Be An Antique Dealer
The best way to start an antiques or collectibles business. Part 1 of a five part series on being an antiques dealer.
- Understanding eBay Changes 2011
This page covers eBay changes and has links to all articles on IWantCollectibles about working within the changes. Sign up for my free newsletter for articles covering new changes as they are announced.
- Tips for Starting an eBay Consignment Business
Selling on consignment is the perfect way to start on eBay. This article is an introduction to consignment selling, and explains what you'll need to be successful. First in a series on eBay Consignment.
- Shopping For eBay Products At Garage Sales
Thirteen tips for garage sale shopping. Part one of a two part series on garage and yard sales.
- Finding New Products for eBay
If you want to sell new products you need to concentrate on items others are not selling. You need to find sources other sellers are unaware of. That is not hard to do. Here's a list of articles to get you started on the right path.
- eBay Auction Category, Title And Keyword Advice
A series of articles about getting your items found on eBay. Covers category selection, eBay keyword rules, and researching keywords. Finally you'll learn how to write an informative, keyword rich title.