Tips by Dr. Lori

Online Auction Tips

Online Auction Tips

Quick, convenient, and safe describe the online shopping experience. Online sellers know that the Internet is a retail heaven with secure servers, credit verification programs, and direct shipping. But, how does the Average Joe cash in with just a click? 

At my antique appraisal events, I am constantly asked by audience members where they can sell an item for the best return. I say that before you sell, know what you have and what it is worth. If you do not bother getting this information, you might as well toss your item into the trash. Here are my tips for smart selling online.

Know your Stuff

Steiff monkeyFind out what you have and what it is worth. You need a correct description of your item and its true value. Example: You have a stuffed toy monkey that you are willing to sell for $5. Are you sure that your $5 stuffed animal is not a vintage Steiff stuffed toy monkey worth $1,200? Know what you are selling and its value before you sell. 

Get Unbiased Information

Get an appraisal from an unbiased expert who does not want to buy your object. I think that someone who evaluates your antique’s value should NOT want to buy that object from you. I think that an art and antiques appraiser should NOT offer to buy the item from you. Someone that wants to buy that antique from you may undervalue it just so they can get the antique from you for a low price.  

Recognize an Ethical Appraisal

Ethical art and antique appraisers are required to base their appraisals on actual sales records showing you where similar pieces have sold. A written appraisal must include actual comparative sales records. If your appraisal does not describe the item or simply lists a numerical value without any supporting evidence for that value, get another appraisal. To meet standards set by the US government, art and antique appraisers are required to also certify that they have not made an offer to buy an appraised item and have no present or contemplated future interest in buying or selling the item. Many dealers or resellers don’t want to appraise objects because they do not want to make this statement.

Determine & Set a Price

Determine the value of your item. Your asking price is the amount of money that you would be happy receiving if your item sold. You can set a reserve price. A reserve alerts potential buyers that you will not part with the item for less than the reserved amount. This method attracts serious buyers, not just casual shoppers. Example: If you would be happy getting $750 for your vintage Lladro figurine that you know is worth $1,500, set your reserve at $500, not at $50. This way the final buyer must at least pay $500 for it.

Know your Market

Certain items sell better in certain markets. Pennsylvania Impressionist landscape paintings sell better in Pennsylvania than they do in California. Think broadly about potential markets. Trying to sell a ruler online? Market to school kids and carpenters, but also advertise to TV weather reporters covering a winter snowstorm. 

Have you been thinking about selling some unwanted antiques online but you don’t know where to start? Do you want to take advantage of a worldwide audience? Selling online is easy for the big corporations like Amazon and Walmart, but how do regular folks generate some extra cash by selling over the Internet?

Protect your Privacy

Make sure you protect your privacy and keep your home and business information secure. If you are selling online, it is a good idea to devote one address to your online selling such as a USPS post office box or UPS mailing station. For your own security, don’t use your home address or your work address to accept online payment checks or as your return address when shipping out objects. Pay pal accounts can be set up with ease for online sellers.

Avoid the Dummy

An auction dummy is a bidder for hire. Auction dummies exist in both traditional and online auctions. Some sellers at auctions hire bidders or auction dummies to bid against interested bidders to drive up selling prices. With no intention of buying the object, the auction dummy creates a bidding war. Auction dummies typically use free web based email accounts like yahoo or gmail accounts and try to hide their identities. Most auction dummies have few winning bids, however they can be difficult to spot online. 

Advertise your Sale

Market online to a global audience and off-line to everyone else. Drive people to your online auction with phone calls, postings on other website, and emails. Create a frenzy. Example: When you host a yard sale, you advertise by calling friends, posting signs in the neighborhood, and buying classified ads in your local newspaper. Online marketing requires the same work. It is not magic to sell online, it requires work.  

Don’t be Fooled

Some unscrupulous buyers may try to undermine your marketing by discrediting your item, mocking your marketing, or stating publically that your price is too high. If you receive such emails, that potential buyer may be trying to get you to reduce your price or rattle you into giving up your item too cheaply. Stand firm.

You can do it! 

Follow my tips and be confident. You probably have something that you want to sell online and probably know someone who sold an item online with positive results.

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