In the good (Bad) old days, one would have dial up (Many still do), so had to bid about 10 mins before the end of the auction with their last bid to secure their win on the property (Or item) on Ebay.
Now, most have Cable, ADSL or broadband, getting quick speeds, meaning you can "Sneak in and Snipe" an auction at the very end, problem is, many others snipe too now, meaning there is a possible micro bidding war at the end of the auction, you get outbid by 5p and have wasted a week waiting on the property to end.
There is sniping software out there, Justsnipe, EzSniper, AuctionStealer etc, these allow users to come in at the last second and place their bid, nobody knows they were there in the first place, and the person with the highest bid (And usually the second highest bidder) sits comfortable thinking they are going to win, pleased with themselves, no competition, easy...BANG. The auction ends, the person refreshes their browser, and some sniper has placed and shot the auction down, finished, kapoot. The highest bidder is the sniper, BUT it doesnt have to be this way.
The problem with end of auction micro bidding wars are, they are a mini auction in themselves, the war is between the snipers, shooting in the dark.
A sniper may place their snipe 4 hours or more before the end of the auction, then left their computer, thinking they too, will win the auction, problem is that unless the snipe is placed 10 minutes or so before the end of the auction, the person placing the snipe may not actually win the auction, because their highest "Snipe" bid amount may actually be lower than the highest bid at the time scheduled for their ready aim fire. Sniping is not guaranteed to win someone a bid, in fact, in my opinion you are most likely to win an auction by playing with your bare hands, watching the auction, placing your highest bid given the highest bid at the given time.
I'll give an example:
The sniper places the bid at 4pm for the 7pm auction, goes out to the pub for a pint of lager and packet of crisps.
The "Bare hands" bidder is at the pub, then comes home at 6pm.
Meanwhile half an hour later (6:30) the sniper is still sitting it out downing the pints, smugly sitting slumped in the corner sneering, thinking the auction is his "Its mines, its all mines!" since he set up the snipe, nobody knows he is there, his bid will be placed in the last few seconds, he bid £10.99.
6:45 comes, Mr Bare Hands is sitting, having placed his first bid, placing him at the top of the bidders list, his highest bid is, you guessed it, more than Mr Sniper, £11.35 (Or something like that)
Mr Sniper has no idea he's just been had, his Sniping software has let him down badly, it should be tapping him in the shoulder telling him that, even if he is to bid at the last minute, because he underestimated the price toward the end of the auction, his snipe amount is far too low, and there is likely more bids to come. Mr Sniper, is out for the count, dazily trudging up the road, stopping to hold walls, lamp posts, dogs kittens and the likes up, and assisting himself to stay upright too, this guy is so smug, that he still has a smirk on his face even though he is no longer capable of walking, its infectious.
6:55, Mr Sniper is out for the count in the hedge, having just been sniffed and dismissed by a passing dog, Mr Bare Hands is fighting it out with another two bidders, Mr Bare Hands now has the highest bid, 6:59 and Mr Bare Hands waits with bated breath, he knows what he is willing to pay and wont go over this, however he is sitting actively monitoring the auction, in control, knowing where the bids are and what he needs to do. The bids are now at £23.50 (Thats right, prices usually always start low, our auction for Bulgarian property start as low as 99p!, and end up at a completely different price, depending on what the user is willing to pay).
6.59 and 50 seconds, Mr Bare Hands is outbid, places high last bid, the maximum he is willing to pay, clicks on confirm, and refreshes the page, BANG, YAHOO!
Mr Sniper is in the gutter, Mr Bare Hands is clapping his Bare Hands.
Sniping guarantees nothing, dont listen to the hype. With low value items, sniping may be effective (It could actually have possibly worked well in the case above, if done correctly) however waiting until the last few seconds of an auction only lessens your chances, not only could your highest bid be far too low, but if you snipe "manually" wthout the assistance of auto web based sniping software, your computer may crash, your browser may be busy and not refresh, a number of things may happen.
Every week, we get "Complaints" from people who are dissapointed because they didnt win the auction at the end, the usual comment is "Is this still available, I bid at the last second but the internet was slow and I lost the auction" - I say, if you want to guarantee the highest chance of winning an Ebay auction then you have to be there, sitting in front of your computer, at least in the last half an hour, on top of the auction, watching the others, having the highest bid, you have to bid your max within the last 10 mins, because it can take 10 mins for a halted computer to restart!
Good luck and happy bidding!