The Real Deal: Finding the True Price

How much is the Braun juicer really worth?
Turns out about $50
My dad says the true price of something is what other people are willing to pay.

Don't you just hate it when your parents turn out to be right?!

 Ebay really drove this point home for us. Some of the prices there are amazing! And not in a good way, usually. We have a lot of family and friends who ask us for help selling things online. One of the things we stress is looking up completed auctions. So far no one who's asked us to sell an item for them has known about this feature, which is why I'm writing about it.

Seriously, we can't stress checking sold listings enough.

Sellers can ask any price (and often do). Just because they ask $1 million for a jean jacket doesn't mean it is actually worth that much. You need to see what actually sold (or didn't sell) and the real selling price.

And with all the years we've been doing this we are still caught by surprise -- so we always, always check. This is important for both buying and selling (have I mentioned that we're collectors as well as flippers?), so we use this function a lot. A LOT!

Stelton fondue pot sold for about $100
Not only have we seen outrageous prices on eBay, but sometimes we've seen them at thrift store and garage sales! My husband loves collecting bikes and several times has seen crazy prices on them and wonders WTH? Then he pops onto eBay and, sure enough, someone there is asking a similarly high price -- but it's not a completed sale, just wishful thinking. Don't get sucked in!

And it really cuts down the risk of buying things to resell. Recently we found some Frankoma pottery. When we lived in Alabama this stuff was hugely popular at auctions so we got excited thinking we had something good. Some of it still sells for amazingly high prices on eBay, but some collections either weren't selling at all or for what we thought were dirt cheap prices.

Here's what we did recently:

  • The way we look it up is do a search on eBay for the item we're price-checking. Be as specific as you can. If you don't know exactly what you have, this search is good for that, too. For instance, I didn't know what that Frankoma piece was, so I just did a search for Frankoma until I found a pitcher in the same pattern (it was called Wagon Wheel), although in a different color.
  • Next, I did a new search adding Wagon Wheel to Frankoma. Turned out it was a sugar dish with the lid missing. And the color looked brown to me but turned out to be called desert gold. When I added the word “sugar” to the same search it turned out there were 54 selling that day, which told me that it is pretty common. Plus the one we found was missing a lid and a lot of the items selling were sets of creamers and sugars with lids, so already it wasn't looking good.
  • We reluctantly put it back on the shelf because the price was as high or higher as the eBay price and it turned out to be really common and incomplete.
DIRECTIONS: Using the eBay app for iPhone look near the top of your search for Filter. Scroll down to the options. If I am interested in selling I use the Completed Listings. This comes up with the same item you were searching for, but only sales that are over. So I can see what sold (the prices are in green) and what didn't (red). Both are useful!

If it's mostly red I probably won't take the risk.If the search is for something I am interested in buying, say a piece for one of my collections that I don't have and think is cool, I will pick the Sold Listings option (which also will turn on Completed Listings).

Mostly, I'm checking to make sure that I am not going to pay $20 for something sold online for $5.

On my desktop computer it looks a little different. The choices are now located at the left-hand side of the search result. Midway down, under the heading Show Only, there are three options including Completed Listings and Sold Listings. For buying or selling this is one of our most useful tips.

We hope it helps you! You can get more great tips in our new book!

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