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How to Win at eBay:
The Flow of a Typical Listing
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Once an item gets listed, there is often little to no action for days, then a period of several days before the close of the auction in which inexperienced early bidders make low bids amongst themselves.

In the very last few seconds, all the serious bids come in that win the auction.


Checking a Completed Listing's Bid Action

If you think I'm kidding, call up any completed eBay auction.

To call up completed auctions, search for anything, scroll down the page of search results, and under "Preferences" on the left side, click "Completed listings." Look a few lines under the price in any completed listing, click on the "xx bids" link next to "History," and you'll see exactly what was bid when.


The Bid that Wins

The only bids that matter are usually those in the last few seconds. All the early bids that came in a minute or earlier were usually wastes of bidders' time.

Newcomers don't realize this.

New sellers are always amazed at how they're getting no bids for the week of the auction, and then how the bids double and triple in the last few minutes.

New buyers, (most buyers, actually), innocently make $10 bids for $100 items whose auctions start at 99¢, and actually think they are going to win.

As the days roll on, other early bidders (called "pretards" in the trade) come in and bid $12.50 and $15.00. The first guy gets emails, pages or whatever, says Uh Oh! and bids $17 for the $100 item, still thinking he's going to win. Bidders 2 and 3 bid $20 and so on as the week progresses.

These early bidders actually think they're bidding, and get all sucked into it.

Then, at the very last second when they think they've won, suddenly five bids come in from new bidders out of nowhere, and the price rises to $100.

The early-bidders click Refresh a second after the auction ends, and never see the winning bids come in until the deal was already done.


The Inspection and Research Period

The time during which an auction is open is called the inspection and research period. It's usually about a week, but sellers can choose different periods.

When you find something, use the time before the auction closes to research the item and what it's worth. Rarely, but if you need to, contact others and do your research. For instance, if a friend is looking for something, I'll point out listings I think he might want. If a friend and I are looking for the same thing, we'll concur to decide which one of us wants to bid, while the other stays away.

I think eBay disabled our right to contact early-bidders through eBay during the auction. This keeps us from letting them know what we're wiling to bid, and collaborating so that we can keep the unnecessary over-bidding to a minimum.

During the research period, usually a week, research the seller, research the item, and do your homework.


The reason for this research is to determine one thing: exactly what will you enter as your maximum bid the moment the auction ends?

To figure this, first we must determine what the item is worth.


Next: What's it Worth?

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