How to Sell on eBay With an Auction

Here’s how to sell on eBay with an auction, in four easy steps. Just create a product listing then choose an auction starting price and duration. You can also set a “Buy it Now” price if desired.

With an eBay auction, an item is sold to the highest bidder. Selling on eBay with an auction is a good choice for items that might be in high demand and limited supply, such as antiques and collectibles. With an auction, eBay sellers choose:

  • Auction starting price.
  • Auction duration.
  • Reserve price (optional).

We’ll give detail on each of these choices below.

1. Create an eBay Product Listing

To sell on eBay with an auction, first create a product listing. For instructions on how to create an eBay product listing, see our article here.

Generally, to sell on eBay, you’ll need to create an eBay account and find the product you’re selling in eBay’s database. Then create the listing and describe the product.

2. Choose eBay Auction

Once the product listing has been created, eBay will offer a choice between selling the item for a fixed price and selling with an auction. Just click the auction button.

how to sell on ebay auction

2. Select eBay Auction Starting Price

When you sell on eBay with an auction, the starting price is where the bidding starts. eBay recommends starting with a low auction price in order to attract more buyers. The danger of course is that if too few shoppers bid on the item, it might sell for a lot less than you would like.

Take the case of a 4th generation 16GB iPad. The device sells used on Amazon and eBay for about $220. However, eBay’s suggested starting price is $120.

how to sell on ebay auction starting price

One protection against selling an item for too low a price is to set a longer auction duration, or at least make sure the auction lasts through a weekend. That way more shoppers will see the listing and potentially bid on it. More bidding creates a higher selling price.

Another way to avoid selling an item for too little money on eBay is to choose a higher staring price. This will attract less potential buyers, but it’ll also ensure the item doesn’t sell for less than your rock bottom price.

The eBay Auction Buy it Now Price

Adding a “Buy it Now” price when you sell on eBay with an auction is a great way to get the best of both worlds. An auction’s relatively low starting price will attract more buyers, but a “Buy it Now” price can help sellers get the price they want. Buyers who don’t want to wait through the auction can choose to buy the item immediately.

how to sell on ebay auction buy it now price

eBay will suggest a Buy It Now price. It’s a good idea to double check the price of similar used items on eBay and Amazon to make sure eBay’s suggested Buy it Now price isn’t too low. eBay’s goal is to sell items fast so they can collect their fees. While lower prices help eBay reach their goal, a higher price may be better for an individual seller.

In the case of our used iPad, there were dozens of used items exactly like it priced at around $225.

3. Choose an eBay Auction Duration

eBay auctions have shorter possible durations than eBay fixed price sales. While eBay fixed price sales can last 30 days or even forever, eBay auctions can be set to 1, 3, 5, 7 or 10 days. Real estate auctions can also be set to last 30 days.

At the end of the auction, the item will sell to the highest bidder. As with selling on eBay with a fixed price, auction durations should be set to include a weekend, because more shoppers shop online on weekends. In general, the default for eBay auctions of seven days is best. Seven days is short enough to attract plenty of buyers but long enough to drive the final selling price up as high as possible.

how to sell on ebay auction listing duration

4. Choose an Optional eBay Auction Reserve Price

sell on ebay auction switch to advanced tool

To set a reserve price for an eBay auction, switch to the advanced eBay listing tool by clicking “switch to advanced tool” in the upper right hand corner of eBay’s listing page. We’ve highlighted it in yellow below. eBay doesn’t recommend switching to the advanced tool for occasional sellers.

eBay charges sellers extra to add a reserve price. Sellers can set a reserve price on eBay to start the bidding at one price but not sell the item until it passes a second price. For example, you could start the bidding for your iPad at $100 but pay extra for a reserve price of $150. A reserve price guarantees the item won’t sell for less than you want it to.

To avoid fees, eBay recommends simply starting the bidding at the higher price. So instead of starting the bidding at $100 and paying extra for a $150 reserve price, an eBay seller could just start the bidding at $150.

eBay Auction Fees

eBay generally charges fees of about 10% of the sale price of each item when the item sells. The company may also charge an additional “listing insertion fee” of 30 cents per listing, though each eBay user gets to create their first 20 listings free of charge. There are also various other fees to add on certain promotion services, like bigger product pictures or better listing layout.

For a complete list of eBay’s fees, see our article here.