Learn to buy and sell antiques and collectibles

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 wait.

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 prices.

Here's 23 tips for selling antiques on eBay

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. Always use titles with relevant keywords. Most eBay searches are done with the default title only option. How to find keywords for antiques.
  4. 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.
  5. List similar antiques at the same time and offer shipping discounts for buyers who win multiple auctions. This increases cross bidding and ending prices.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Use the jargon a buyer would use to describe your antique.
  9. 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 listings.
  10. 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 higher.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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."
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. Use a bulk lister like TurboLister. This is a free program provided by eBay that allows you to write and manage your auctions easily.
  20. 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 or two.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.

Terry


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.

Ted at his desk.

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