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Tips for Buying on eBay

Win More, Pay Less!

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Whether you're a newbie just getting started, or you've been buying on eBay for years, there are a number of things you can do to find more items you're seeking through online auctions, and, in some cases, pay much less than you would elsewhere. Want a few ideas?

Look for seller mistakes. Is one of the items you collect or regularly buy on eBay commonly misspelled or misidentified by sellers? You'll know if you frequently find it happening in the "brick and mortar" world of antique shops and shows. Chances are these types of errors will be occuring online as well. If so, conduct your searches for both the correct and incorrect terms to broaden your results. Other bidders may not think to look for incorrect information giving you a leg up on the bidding competition.

Consider an automated sniping service. If you're not familiar with the concept of sniping, it's actually jumping in during the last few seconds of an auction to place a bid. You don't give other bidders the opportunity to counterbid when you snipe. This bidding strategy has been manually employed by savvy bidders for quite some time now. More and more buyers are using online services are available to help automate the process these days, including yours truly.

Consider search keywords. Searching too broadly can yield way too many results. Being too specific can eliminate results you'd like to see. If your first search brings up thousands of auction listings, consider adding a word like "vintage" to eliminate newer items. Adding a color or date to your search query can also help. On the other hand, if you add too many words to your search query you'll end up with a pretty short list. Start with a basic search like "flow blue" and then add words like "vintage" and "pitcher" until you get the results you're seeking. Save your favorite searches and then access them any time through your My eBay page.

Pay attention to shipping charges. Shipping and handling charges can really boost the cost of your finds if you're not careful. Read auction descriptions before bidding and e-mail the seller if you're not sure how much you'll be charged for delivery on a particular piece. Sometimes it's more cost-effective to find what you're seeking locally.

Keep tabs on favorite sellers. Whether it's a seller you've found some great bargains through in the past, or just someone who seems to pick items that suit your taste to a tee, you can add that person to your favorite seller's list. Check in with them often to scoop up any Buy It Now offerings they might list from week to week. You can also add them to your favorite sellers list through your My eBay page or immediately after you leave positive feedback by simply clicking on the link provided.

Pamela Y. Wiggins, About.com's Antiques Guide since 1999, is the author of "Buying & Selling Antiques and Collectibles on eBay." Click here for more information on Pamela Wiggins.

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