Submitting a Best Offer
What is a Best Offer?
A best offer is when a seller sets a "Buy it Now" price but then also allows you the potential buyer to "Make an Offer", this is the price that you are prepared to pay for the item. The seller will then review your best offer and decide to either accept or decline. Please remember when submitting a best offer you are entering in to a contract with a seller and are obligated to purchase the item if your offer is accepted. On this understanding you should always make sure that the offer you submit is acceptable to you.
What is a Reasonable Offer?
Quite often when sellers set a "Buy it Now" price they will have done some research into the price of recently ended listings, this allows a seller to set a reasonable "Buy it Now" price.
Any registered ebayer can do this, the easiest way is to search for an item as normal, and when the search results appear click the box titled "Completed Listings" on the left hand side of the page. This will bring up all the recently ended items that match your search criteria, it is a great way of helping you decide what a reasonable offer is.
Condition and Postage
However as the buyer it is also important to take into consideration the condition of an item. When you are looking at the completed listings you may find a few items that ended at a price well below the "Buy it Now" price of the item you are thinking of submitting an offer on. This could be due to the items condition, as items labeled as "New" or "As New" generally achieve a better price than "used" or "faulty/spares or repairs" labeled items.
It is also important to consider postage costs. Many sellers do put a very reasonable postage cost on an item and even offer various different postage options to keep costs low, having said this there are often ebayers that put inflated postage costs on an item, you should bear in mind these costs when submitting your best offer.
Can I Email the Seller?
The answer simply put is yes, in many cases this is encouraged.
As a buyer recent changes to ebay allow you to make more than one official offer on each listing. However you can email a seller first to see if they find your best offer acceptable. Sellers are only human and most will be happy to talk to you about a potential best offer, you must remember that they would not have put the best offer option in if they were not open to offers.
If your best offer gets declined you are able to make another offer but also you can still "buy it now".
However although all sellers are not the same generally they will not accept silly offers for example if an item is placed at £ 9.99 then a seller is unlikely to accept £ 4.99 or less, if they do then you have been very lucky. Many sellers on ebay are running a business and as such looking to make money, it is important for a potential buyer to realize that there are many fees involved in selling on ebay and receiving funds through paypal that accepting silly offers will make them no profit.
When to Make an Offer?
There is no point in waiting to submit your offer to a seller, in fact the best time to submit a best offer is straight away. This will minimize the change of another person either using the "Buy it Now" option or submitting an offer better than yours. Ebay will make the seller aware of your best offer through email however not every seller is online all day and there are often delays in best offer emails reaching sellers, for these reasons it is a bad idea to wait until the final hours or minutes of a listing to make an offer.
How Long Does My Offer Last?
An offer will usually last for either 48 hours or until the auction ends (if this is less than 48 hours). If you have not heard from a seller in this time they will usually have decided against accepting your offer or just simply be busy, it is also possible on rare occasions that they have not received the best offer notification email (ie it has been sent the their spam box), so it doesn't hurt to let a seller know you have made an offer, as they can then view the offer on the listing page.
Recent changes to ebay now also allow sellers to set auto decline or accept prices on all their "best offer" listings, if this is the case you will receive an instant response to your offer.
What is a Counter-Offer?
New and very recent changes to ebay now allow sellers to make a "Counter-Offer". This is a way that the seller can reject your offer but make you aware of a price they would accept, for example if the "Buy it Now" price is £ 9.99 and you offer £ 4.99 they can then say no but i will take £ 7.49. If you accept the "counter-offer" as before you are entering in to a contract and are bound to complete the transaction.