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Smart Buying

Sell With Success Online

Nine tips to help you unload your stuff and snag a good price.

Ready to clean out your attic? Whether you opt for an online auction, shopping mart or classified Web site, these strategies will help you find a buyer for your wares. (Learn more about your e-selling options in The Art of the E-Deal.)

1. Buy before you sell. Learn how the process works, and build a reputation for honest dealing.

2. Research prices. Surf other sites to find out what constitutes a fair price, and focus on completed sales, says Ina Steiner, an industry analyst on AuctionBytes. "Just because an item is listed for $100 doesn't mean it's going to sell at that price." For potentially high-value items, use an appraiser.

3. Start small. Limit your first sales to one or two low-value items, and keep in mind that some items, such as books, are easier to ship than others.


4. Leave the Matisse to the experts. You may want to save the good stuff for an auction house, says Steiner. "Auction houses know who the collectors are."

5. Use strong key words. Your item will stand out if your listing title uses brand names and defining characteristics, such as "Coach houndstooth Hobo bag," as opposed to "designer bag."

6. Include several pictures. Most sites let you post at least one image free. It's worth paying extra for a gallery shot that appears with search results to give browsers a preview of your offering.

7. Time the close. Try to close on a weekend during the day, when more people are paying attention.


8. Tend to business. List shipping and payment options clearly, and send your item out promptly. Poor fulfillment will spoil your feedback.

9. Tell Uncle Sam. Even if you're a casual seller, talk to your accountant about tax obligations. The IRS wants to know, "Is this a hobby or a business?" says Steiner.

Also: Learn how to Buy With Confidence and Share Your Online Auction Stories