Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Selling Loot on eBay, some Pros and Cons

First off - The Simple Dollar has a great post up on Ten Tactics for Improving Your Luck. I love articles like this - they make me smile. Check it out if you get a chance - there is some good stuff in there.

So, last night my friend David brought over our friend Jen's eBay stuff. He had four big boxes of things she left with him to sell when she moved. He didn't get around to it, so the bundle has been passed off to me. The deal is simple - I do the work of selling them on eBay, we split the profit 50/50.

It is an incredibly generous offer and I am so, so happy she offered it to me!! However, this is going to be a little trickier than selling mom's stuff. For one thing, mom can't get online and see my listings. She just hands me the stuff and it is out of site, out of mind. Especially since all the profits go to me. So, while I try to put together good listings, I know that I am the only one who will gain (or lose) from what I do. With Jen, I want to make sure I am doing this the best that I can. I am going to go a little further in researching the items and taking the photos. Her stuff falls into a lot of that pop culture collectibles stuff, that frankly, I don't know a lot about.

The other thing that is hard for items like these is the difference between "worth" and "sales price." This is a concept that I deal with a lot, since I work for a company that does appraisals on homes. Ok, say you have a $80,000 home, then you put $25,000 into it fixing up the kitchen. How much is the home worth? The answer - whatever people will pay for it.

If in your area homes are only selling for $80,000 then you could put $180,000 into it - the home is still "worth" $80,000. However, say similar homes in your area are selling for $250,000. Well then, your home is worth that. Something is worth what the market will pay.

The tricky part is when it comes to emotion. You love your house, you love your kitchen - it is that perfect shade of pale green that makes your bleary eyes still look good in the morning. You know how much you spent, you know how great it is - it should be worth more. But it is isn't.

And the same thing goes with eBay, but on a much more concentrated, quick paced level. An item on eBay is only worth what people who have seen your auction during those 7 days are willing to pay. Sure, you can look up and see in some collector's book that it should be worth $100s of dollars, but that does you absolutely no good if you can't find a buyer for it. In fact, it costs you money, because each time you list something, eBay charges a fee. (And the higher the price, the higher the fee.)

My goal is to somehow walk the line between pricing the items at a level someone would reasonably bid on, but high enough that Jen and I both make a profit. I put three of her magazines up today as a test and will try a variety of items over the next couple of weeks. Naturally, I will post about it here.

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