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Why is it that some cars sell well on ebay and others sell badly.

Luck? Partly.

Skill? Mostly.

False bidding? Sometimes.

It’s true that luck plays it’s part when you’re selling on Ebay, get two or more right people at the same time and you could be onto a winner. But, there are plenty of techniques you can adopt to improve your chances and realise more money for your car.

I’ve sold plenty of cars on Ebay and have improved my technique over the last few years to the point where I’m confident enough of achieving a good price that I can let my auctions run with no reserve, while I'm sure there's room for improvement, it works well for me.

Don’t let your auction run for too long - 10 days is simply too long for the internet generation, people just get bored and stop watching. On the other hand, 1 or 3 days might well be too short and might not get seen by enough people. I recommend 5 days if you’re in a rush and 7 days.

No reserve - It’s a risk but often one worth taking. It really gets people going, combine this with a low start price and an auction that’s not too long and you’ll interest more people.

Good points before bad points - I always start with a brief description, then the good points, including recent work, history, general condition etc. Bad points next and then end on a positive description. If it’s a good example then say so, if it’s a bad example then say so but also point out it’s cheap and with no reserve.

Always be honest - Don’t describe something as mint for the year, it’s either ‘mint’ or it’s not, regardless of it’s age. If there are too many marks to list individually then you could generalise, for example, ‘There are a few small scuffs and spots of corrosion as you would expect from a car of this age’. Good photo's will show a cars condition better and be more trusted than a seller’s opinion.

Low starting price - it will spike peoples interest, combined with no reserve it makes your car seem accessible and affordable. The more bids you encourage the more popular your car will look and the more people will be inclined to bid.

Clean your car – It sounds so obvious but so many people don’t seem to bother. You may not normally clean your car but just this once, make a proper job. Get the degreaser and an old toothbrush out, do your wheels and engine bay and all those little bits you normally leave. It gives the car a much better overall feel and first impressions mean everything on Ebay.

Standard is best – It’s an irony that people want to buy standard cars and then stick aftermarket tat on them:

  • clear indicators – bad
  • 21 inch spinners – bad
  • Loud exhaust – bad

The fact is you will get more for a standard car and selling the parts separately than selling it all as one full stop. Only one person will lose out. There aren’t any exceptions to the rule, even if you’ve got expensive alloys fitted to your car, they’re still worth more sold separately, and the car will be more desireable with standard alloys. Rule of thumb, divide and conquer.

Good pictures and plenty of them - don’t use other peoples or manufacturers photos, it makes it look like you don't own the car. Don’t use your phone no matter how good it is, a proper digital camera with a decent lens is the proper way to go. Set the resolution to the highest setting. Ebay will reduce the resolution when you upload them but you’re better starting off too good. You’ve got 12 free photo’s so use them all, walk round the car and make sure you cover everything. A few long shots, close ups and shots of any damage you’ve mentioned. It’s a good idea to shoot MOT’s, service history and any extra’s that go with the car, while it won’t show detail, it will give an idea of how much history the car has and leave a good impression. If you're up to the task you can host your photo's elsewhere and link them in the advert, this will allow you to achieve much better quality.

Spelling mistakes – we are not, for the moment anyway, part of America, so for the record, ‘tyre’ is not spelt ‘tire’. When you buy something you’ve ‘bought’ it not ‘brought’ it. Don’t forget we invented the language so have some pride and use the spell checker built into Ebay’s text editor.

Plan to end your auction at the right time – Schedule your auction to start so it ends when the sort of people you’re selling to are online. The last hour, nay the last 10 minutes are the most important. Peak internet usage is lunch times and evening, especially at the weekends. Personally I always end mine around 9.00 pm on Sunday, the kids are in bed, people have the time to be online and it’s between programmes.

Clear layout – avoid one big sentence. Split up the good and bad points using bullet points. Don’t use a massive red font for example, it just gets annoying trying to read it. Use paragraphs, that’s why they exist. Don’t waffle or tell prospective buyers why they want to buy it, patronising people is best left to car dealers.

Don’t make your advert too long - In any advert, the pictures are the gold, and people want to get to them ASAP. Too much text and they’ll get bored before they get to them.

Don’t get greedy – If you’re car is desirable or rare or cheap it will make good money, perhaps even more than you could otherwise get. If you’re selling a Ford Mondeo then it needs to stand out for its condition and value, because there’s a ton of them.

Know your target audience - selling a classic 1970’s Mercedes is a totally different experience from selling a Citroen Saxo VTR and you should word your advert accordingly.

ZERO or LOW rated bidders - Request that they contact you with a landline number before bidding. Fraudulent bidders are getting more and more prevalent which is a real pain for the rest of us. You can set your auction to allow 'Pre-approved' bidders only but this will definitely stop genuine people bidding too and should only be used for extremely rare and/or expensive cars. If you do get bad bids, cancel them as soon as possible and then block the bidders. The links to these useful pages can be found in the Help section.

Reply to your questions openly - Post your questions at the bottom as it will save you replying to everyone individually, it also makes you look honest and open and people are more likely to want to buy from you.

Reserve’s, whether to disclose or not - on one hand you inadvertently set the top price for your car if you do disclose, on the other hand, if it's low enough it may encourage more bidding. I usually disclose my reserve, sometimes it works out and I get substantially more and sometimes I don't even reach it. Definitely not an exact science.

BIN price, how it will affect your price - If you use a ‘Buy It Now’ price, people automatically limit what they expect to pay. If it’s too high it will stop people bidding, If it’s too low it will automatically limit what people will bid.

Offer delivery - even if it’s through a third party, it's one more reason to buy from you rather than someone else. A simple £? per mile price will allow people to work it our for them selves and you'll have to answer fewer questions.

Don’t just cut and paste from manufacturers websites – People will spot it! They’ll probably have read the magazine articles and because they're a reasonably savvy lot, they don't trust manufacturers information. It also makes you look lazy and unimaginative.

Title -  Don’t just put ‘Ford car’, we know it’s a ‘Ford car’, it’s in the ‘Ford car’ section. Put (in capitals) ‘1996 FORD MONDEO 1.8 GLX – IMMACULATE CONDITION’

Ebay options:

  • Gallery – good (you've got to use the gallery option and make sure you use your best photo first)
  • Featured £9.95 – good (it seems like a lot but you'll almost certainly get it back and more besides)
  • Home page featured £49.95 – bad (only use it if you're selling a rare car)
  • Subtitle – good, as long as you’ve got something to say (don't just repeat yourself)

Finally, if you care about your advert you more than likely care about your car, and visa versa. This comes across to buyers.

If you've found this guide useful please vote below, thanks for looking.


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