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eBay Home and Garden Tips

Make eBay one of your home and garden marketplaces

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eBay Home and Garden Tips

eBay can be both a great place to buy and a great place to sell home and garden goods

Photo: Shippee / Dreamstime
Many eBayers don’t immediately think “home and garden” when they think about eBay, but in fact eBay is amongst the top three retailers (top two if only online retailers are counted) in the home and garden market in the United States. eBay offers home and garden shoppers a unique range of goods from around the world, while offering home and garden sellers—especially small and medium-sized sellers—access to markets outside their local area.

  • For home and garden shoppers, therefore, eBay should be one of your first destinations, especially if you’re looking for unique, indigenous-craft, or one-of-a-kind items.

  • For home and garden sellers, eBay is one of the best places to be since it has a proven track record of moving home and garden goods and is a destination that buyers are clearly aware of.

Whether you’re buying or selling, here are some tips to make your home and garden experience on eBay a good one.

eBay Home and Garden Tips For Shoppers

Shopping online for home and garden goods can present special challenges, most notably around shipping methods and product assembly, since home and garden goods may be very large and bulky and may arrive in unassembled fashion. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Be aware of shipping costs. Furniture is particularly at issue here, but so are many smaller decorative items that may be made of stone, plaster, brass, or other materials, or that may involve significant bulk (bags of soil, for example, or lawn furniture). Especially with free shipping becoming more and more popular, it can be easy to miss a high shipping cost and pay more than you want to.

  • Remember shipping delays as well. If you’re buying for an occasion like a wedding or for a time-sensitive project like some kinds of seasonal home improvements, pay special attention to estimated shipping and handling times. Home and garden gear on eBay may have to be sourced from warehouses, custom-assembled upon order, or in some cases shipped from overseas, all of which can add delays. If the listing isn’t clear and time is important to you, ask the seller about timing.

  • Measure carefully and read descriptions carefully. Pictures can be deceptive, even when the seller doesn’t mean to be. What looks like a lovely outdoor iron lamppost for your backyard can quickly disappoint when it arrives and turns out to be a desk lamp in the shape of a 19th century lamppost. Similarly, an absolutely fabulous wardrobe can seem less so when it turns out to be so tall that it exceeds your ceiling height. Here, too, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask the seller questions about dimensions if the listing isn’t clear.

  • Keep a keen eye open and look for quality. Once again, pictures can be deceptive. What looks like a mirror framed in nicely finished hardwood can turn out to be a plastic imitation or painted plaster piece worth considerably less than you thought. Read descriptions with a fine-toothed comb, and if in doubt, ask questions about materials, workmanship, the quality of materials (grade, thickness, etc.), assembly methods (glue, staples, welding, etc.), and item condition.

  • Don’t confuse indoor and outdoor goods. A surprising number of indoor goods can seem at first glance to be outdoor-safe and vice-versa. Look for signals in the item description about whether goods are indoor- or outdoor-appropriate. Once again, if in doubt, ask.

  • Remember that replicas are common. You may be the shopper for whom a replica 18th century ship’s lantern is as good as the real thing, or for whom a generic version of a power tool fits the bill as easily as the similar-looking name-brand version. Or, you may not. In either case, read closely enough to catch words like “replica,” “reproduction,” “equivalent,” “replacement,” and so on. Once again, if in doubt, ask—especially if the price in question is a very tempting one.

  • Be sensitive to logistics and regulations. Remember to prepare for other types of regulatory or compatibility issues before buying. Be sure that your home can supply a gas line before buying a gas appliance, for example, or that your home can safely supply adequate current on the circuit you have in mind before buying an electrical appliance (check its energy specifications to be sure). In a similar vein, look into local regulations about secondary structures before you buy a gazebo or other backyard structure on eBay—no good comes of paying and waiting for cumbersome or heavy materials to be shipped only to realize that you’re not allowed to continue with the installation.

  • Comparison shop. Finally, don’t just assume that you’re automatically getting a better deal by buying on eBay. There’s a reason that Home Depot and Lowe’s are the stores ahead of eBay in home and garden sales—the have local retail establishments nationwide that can simplify shipping, and their prices are often very goods. Be a smart consumer and you’ll get the best deal possible.

  • Be aware of feedback. Because home and garden goods can be difficult to handle and ship expertly, think twice before buying major, complex types of goods (backyard lawn and garden tools, major home appliances, bulky construction materials) from someone with very little feedback (who likely has little eBay experience) or questionable feedback.

  • Check a seller’s eBay store. Many home and garden sellers have a wider variety of goods in a wider variety of sizes, colors, etc. than are listed as regular auctions or fixed-price listings on the eBay website. If you like items that a seller has to offer, look for the “Visit store” link on the right-side of the auction listing to browse through their online store and the goods sold there.

While these tips are things that home and garden shoppers and buyers should keep in mind, there are also a number of things that home and garden sellers on eBay should remember. Read on to find out what they are.

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