Friday, July 15, 2011

How to Research Used Items Before Purchase

Buying items on the used market is a great way to save a lot of money and bring home some very usable items as well. However, as is true in any type of market, you will do well to research used items before you try to buy them used. By becoming a smart shopper, you can avoid or at least cut down on how often you buy a used item only to get it home and realize that there is no remaining value in that item.

The online used marketplace has added a new wrinkle to the practice of purchasing used goods. There is a thriving culture of people who buy used items, fix or restore them, and then sell them for a tidy profit. Once you begin to research used item online auctions, you will learn the terminology that is used to describe the condition of the items being sold.

What does condition mean?
Become an expert at asking questions. When you see the item in an online used marketplace described as “slightly used,” you’d be smart to probe a little deeper about what “slightly” means. Do not hesitate to open a line of communication with the seller to learn just how “used” that item is. Be diplomatic, but if that seller has a used item that needs repair before it can become functional again, it’s better that he or she come clean with you about that. Then you can negotiate a deal with that seller so that they still can sell their used item at a lower cost, but you get a bargain that you can enhance because of your ability to repair broken used items.

When you are on the market for a used item, take some time to learn about it directly. You can find similar items new or in resale environments where you can examine them and learn more about how much effort it will take to return that item to a usable state. You can also find online diagrams and discussions about the restoration process.

A good example is buying a used car. Whether you are buying that car in an online used market or locally, knowing what is wrong with the car and how much it will take to repair it must become part of your thinking before you make an offer on the vehicle. If the repairs will cost $500, you can strike a deal with the owner to reduce the price they are asking. If you are able to do the repair for $200 because you are an expert shade-tree mechanic, then you benefit from your skills. Meanwhile, the seller still gets a sale and you return that good car to full service.  Use this same methodology for any used purchase, not just cars.

Finding used goods either online or at local sales is not difficult to do. With the emergence of large online auction services like eBay and online classified ads like Craigslist, you can often find many similar items for sale. Don’t buy the first used item you find that fits your needs. Take some time and dig deeper. If you find that there are six of those items online and three more at local used item venues, you can then begin to compare prices and the state of repair of the items that you are considering. That makes the used market a buyers’ market because you took the time to make it so.  Using PriceAdvice makes this process even easier, since it provides you with data on average market prices and the ability to refine search results by price, item, best deal, etc.

Be a proactive shopper when you begin to research used items for purchase. Avoid impulse purchases. Keep in mind that the used item marketplace is very active and always changing. If you don’t find what you want today, it will probably turn up tomorrow or next week. Be persistent, be fussy and be knowledgeable and you can make the used item market work very well for you.

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