I’ve sold several thousand items on eBay by now, so I have a reasonably good idea of how the process works. However, the first step that I take with any new potential item for sale is almost always the same – I do my homework to evaluate the resale value and market for a particular item.
Many people believe in order to establish the value of their items, they simply need to go online to match-up the item, and that’s what they can expect to get when they sell it. This strategy is only partially correct – yes, you can go online to see how identical / similar items are currently priced for sale, but that does not necessarily mean that is what the items will actually sell for. Ever heard of retail price versus resale price?
When I estimate the resale value of an item, I seek out the prices for the same / similar items that have recently sold, as they serve as much better predictors as to what future items will sell for. This is particularly important step to do for rare or valuable items.
In eBay, all you have to do is change your search preferences slightly to find this info. After searching for your item, simply select the “Sold Listings” box on the left side of the webpage. If you could imagine eBay as a huge store with nearly anything for sale in the front of the store, this small change in search preferences now gives you access to the backroom of the store, where everything that has sold in the last 4-6 weeks can viewed, including prices.
After locating the sold items, next you’ll want to sort them by “Price + Shipping: highest first”, which will list the items with the highest resale value at the top of the page. This is important because it provides a baseline for comparison between items that have recently sold for the most money and your particular item. If your item happens to be in better condition or more complete than the “top” item, there’s a good chance that it may resell for more. Oftentimes though, most items fall in the mid to low range, as they have flaws.
If you can’t find what you’re trying to research on eBay, Liveauctioneers.com can be a great alternative, as it compiles sales data from a number of major auction houses throughout the United States. Simply sign-up for a free membership, which will allow you to browse both upcoming and live auctions, as well as sold results from past auctions.
If you still can’t find what you’re trying to research, you may need a paid subscription to a specialty website or a good reference book, of which I have many of both! Just send me an e-mail with a brief description of the item (including condition and reference marks) and I can typically find it and provide a free sales estimate with a few minutes of searching.
The original article can be found in the August 2013 issue of Southern Neighbor available here: www.southernneighbor.com.