Friday 20 July 2018

There's cash in the attic... but you've got to put it online first

USE THE FORCE: If no one bites at your deal, make them an offer they can’t refuse
USE THE FORCE: If no one bites at your deal, make them an offer they can’t refuse
Louise McBride

Louise McBride

A devoted Star Wars fan is expecting to raise enough money to buy a family home for himself and his wife - by auctioning the remainder of his collection of vintage Star Wars figures on Tuesday.

Craig Stevens, who lives in London, has been collecting Star Wars toys since he was a child. It's certainly stood to him. Last month, he raised over €50,000 when he sold the bulk of his collection at the British toy auctioneers, Vectis Auctions. The second half of his collection, which includes Han Solo in his Hoth outfit and Luke Skywalker in his Bespin fatigue, will be held on Tuesday. Record prices are expected to be fetched.

Mr Stevens's story shows just how valuable vintage toys and old memorabilia can be - particularly if he manages to raise enough money to buy a home. Mr Stevens used Vectis Auctions, an auction house which holds live auctions and accepts bids by telephone, post and online.

For most of us who have held onto - or stumbled across - collector items however, the easiest place to sell them is often online. So how can you boost your chances of making big money when doing so?

ONE

Pitch your price right

You could lose out on tens - or perhaps, hundreds - of thousands of euro if you don't pitch at the right price.

It is worthwhile therefore checking the results of specialist auctions, such as those held by Vectis, Bonhams or Whyte's, to find out what price you could fetch for a collector's item.

For example, a 9.5cm Boba Fett vintage figure - from the Star Wars movie The Empire Strikes Back - sold for more than €20,000 at Vectis last month. The figure, by the old British toy company, Palitoy, was part of Mr Stevens's collection. A similar-sized Obi-Wan Kenobi figure sold for €5,624 at the same auction, while a Darth Vader fetched over €2,000.

Of course, Star Wars figures aren't the only things which could fetch you a fortune online. Batman equipment sets manufactured by the Ideal Toy Company in the 1960s could fetch you thousands of euro (or more).

Rare dolls by the German doll manufacturers Kammer & Reinhardt often change hands for hundreds of thousands of euro.

Margaret Thatcher's handbag sold on eBay for about €164,000 almost 15 years ago - more than 300 times what she had originally paid for it.

As well as checking auction results, it is worthwhile visiting collector forums on the internet, as these too can give good guidance on what something should be priced at.

Remember, a toy in a sealed package can be worth twice or three times as much as a loose toy - so never throw out the packaging of an old toy until you have checked its value.

TWO

Time it right

You'll get a better price for something when there's a big demand for it - so be clever.

"If you have a convertible to sell and the weekend looks sunny, get it on eBay," said Mike Sheard, creator of FatFingers.com - a website where you can search for misspelt (and therefore usually cheaper) items on eBay.

Similarly, 24 football shirts sold on eBay every hour ahead of the Brazil World Cup, according to a spokeswoman for the website.

The weekend is usually the best time to sell something on eBay as there tends to be more people bidding then than in the middle of the week.

Time your auction, however, so it closes on a Sunday evening between 8pm and 10pm.

"The best time for an auction to finish is a Sunday evening - it's the busiest time on eBay," said Mr Sheard.

Avoid listing your item in the middle of the night or early in the morning.

"Listings that end in the middle of the night will be seen by less people," said a spokeswoman for eBay.

THREE

Stand out from the crowd

As eBay is visited by over 19 million British and Irish people every month, it is one of the biggest online marketplaces out there if you have something to sell. Its sheer size, however, means you must do what you can to make your item stand out from others.

"The title is vital," said a spokeswoman for eBay. "The first thing that buyers see is the item title. You only have 55 characters to get their attention, so make them count. Include details like size. Make sure you include all available information when you're describing your item and use good, clear pictures."

Starting at a low price can also be a good tactic as it will attract more bidders. Clearly however, you're unlikely to do this if you're putting rare and valuable memorabilia up for auction.

Bad spelling will work against you on eBay.

"Spell your item correctly - otherwise it makes it harder to find on eBay," said Mr Sheard. "Ensure too that it is listed in the correct category - the easiest way to find this is to search for similar items and see which categories are popular. Take your own photos - people want to see exactly what condition your item is in. Take good photos without using the flash - most camera phones have great cameras but a photo in daylight really helps sell an item."

FOUR

Know what will sell

Don't waste your time trying to flog off stuff which won't sell. Cheap and common books, cds and dvds will usually be difficult to sell. So too will worn out clothes and heavily used consumer electronics and power tools. You'll often struggle to find buyers for bulky or oddly shaped things, such as furniture and white goods, because they may be hard to ship.

On the other hand, laptops and tablets are amongst the most popular items bought and sold on eBay, according to Mr Sheard. "The big sellers are the iPad, Kindle Fire and Samsung Galaxy Tab 3," said Mr Sheard. "A second-hand video game can fetch a good price, especially if it's a new or rare title. Second-hand LCD televisions are in great demand. A quality coat is a big seller this time of year. When it comes to mobile phones, the iPhone, Motorola Moto G and LG G3 rule this category."

FIVE

Don't underestimate the costs

You will face a raft of charges when selling on eBay, including fees to eBay itself, PayPal fees and shipping costs. So it may not be worth your while selling on eBay - if the price you secure barely covers your costs (if at all).

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