The most important piece of advice is to remember the rule of three - you must sell all items for three times more than you paid for them in order to make a REAL profit. Remember, the first 33% recoups what you paid for the item, the second 33% covers your costs (buyer's premium, transport costs, ebay listing and postage costs, ebay final fee, Paypal final fee), the final 33% is your profit. (The other one percent should be handed to a small canine wearing a duffel coat and different coloured Wellingtons. He may be the next Pope, or perhaps Paddington bear.)
Here is a selection of other info which may be of use..
1, Buy what you know. If you know about books, buy books. I know about silver - so I buy militaria.
2, Stay away from things you know little about - or research the subject. You'll get stung if you buy something about which you know nothing. (ask yourself why no one else bid for it). Or treat the experience as a learning curve. I lose money all the time - and never forget my mistakes.
3, Ignore No 2 if you find something so cheap that you can't loose. I often buy boxes of 20 or so books for £1, simply because no one else wants them. There is always at least one book among them which will make me money. Sometimes I buy a box of stuff for the container - where would you get a plastic tub for £1?
4, Don't forget that real life auctions charge a buyer's premium which can add anything from 10-20% to the purchase price.
5, When considering profit remember to take into account time and distance. The box of books you buy for a tenner may have cost double that when you take into account petrol money getting to the auction, parking fees, sandwiches and pop.
6, Be prepared to wait. In an auction of 600 lots no one except traders will bid for more than half a dozen items. Sod's law dictates the lots you want will be late in the day, which means a lot of waiting around. Take pity on furniture dealers. Furniture is almost always at the end of an auction, so furniture dealers tend to be rather more unhappy than most other people. They have more time to think about the things that have gone wrong in their lives and this makes many of them bitter. This of course is said with tongue in cheek, obviously.
7, Never leave an absentee bid if you can avoid it. You will often find that you win the lot for your maximum bid - even when no one else bid against you. Some auction houses hike up bids to make more commission.
8, Try to go to midweek auctions. Most of the hobby buyers are at work.
9. Get to know who are the traders. If you bid against them you will almost always win. They know at what price they can make a profit and most often they will not go higher than that. If you are one bid ahead of them, you will have done okay.
10, Remember, if you lose an auction lot don't fret. There'll be another one along shortly.
11, If you are an auction regular, traders will sometimes try and teach you a lesson by bidding up an item of little value before suddenly dropping out, out leaving you saddled with it. That hasn't happened to me yet, but I have seen it done to others and if you keep your ears open you can often here traders plotting this tactic. It's called dumping.
12, Try and stay friendly with traders. Buying at auction is the way they make a living and they don't take kindly to people taking potential profit from them. I often speak to traders and try and find out which lots they are especially keen on. If I'm not too bothered about those lots I let the traders know I'm not going to bid against them. I have bagged numerous bargains when they have returned the favour. One trader agreed not to bid on a box of books even though he knew they contained three volumes worth at least £100 each. I won the lot for £14 - and all because I had done the chap a favour at a previous auction. He knows I owe him a favour and will call on it in the future.
13, If you want only one item from a multi item lot, find that friendly trader and ask if they want to split the lot. Often you will get the item you want for a knock down price - and you don't get saddled with lots of stuff you don't want.
14, Beware The RING.
Random Thoughts, real world auctions
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25 November 2007
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