eBay, The World’s Online Marketplace®, and without doubt a great place to buy signed items, but only if you know what you are doing, as buying on eBay without the right knowledge could end up being a very costly exercise.
I have been dealing full time in autographs for over 20 years, achieving over 25,000 transactions on eBay alone, given talks on eBay, attended eBay University and even broadcast a live workshop on fake autographs from eBay head office in London, but I can still sometimes get fooled into buying worthless rubbish via the site, so if I can be fooled, think how easy it must be to fool a newcomer to the wonderful world of eBay!
Trying to buy anything signed on eBay can be something of a nightmare, at best you might just get something that’s genuine and has only cost you a few pounds, but at worst, you can be ripped off for many hundreds of £’s for something that does not even arrive on your doorstep! On the other hand, by following a few simple rules, you can consistently find some real gems, and bag yourself more than a few bargains.
Over the past 10 years I have learned a lot of things to help anyone buy safely on eBay, and here I hope to show you a few tricks and some rules that will help you sort the wheat from the chaff.
Because it is the world’s largest online marketplace, it has become the world’s largest market for forgers and dodgy dealers! Do a search any day of the week for signed items on eBay and you will find that hundreds of fake items in amongst the many good items offered by respectable dealers worldwide.
Learning to spot a fake autograph requires many years experience and a trained eye, so here we will concentrate on showing you the things to look for that will allow you to spot the fraudulent seller rather then the fraudulent item, as this is a little easier.
Let us assume you have been searching for a Frank Sinatra autograph, and have finally found what you think to be a good one on eBay. You should of course do some basic checks on the signature itself, as only by making these checks and comparisons will you learn how to spot the real from the fake. There have been some articles published on Sinatra’s autograph, so with a few clicks on Google you should be able to find some help. If you are a keen collector, then you should have already invested and read some reference books such as the Ray Rawlins books, or at least a copy of the Sanders Price Guide. Again Google or Amazon can be useful here, and doing your homework is all part of the process of buying autographs.
Remember that I am only concentrating here on bad sellers, and not bad autographs, but there are may articles that can help with the autograph side, so search them out and read them.
Always check everything you can about the seller via eBay, and there are lots of ways you can do this. Always read the full page at least twice, making sure you check all the sellers details etc. Assume him to be a fraudster and find reasons to trust him, rather than the other way around.
1/ Check their feedback for the same or similar items. If the item you are after is rare (as is Sinatra) then have they sold or do they have any others? Use Goofbay (Google it) to check what they have sold in the past 90 days as eBay only allow you to check the last 30 days. This alone can sometimes tell you all you need to know.
2/ Do they have many other rare and hard to find signed items? Have they sold the same ones over and over again over the last few weeks? Are these items repeatedly sodl at a lower price that other well know dealers are offering them at?
3/ Are they using ‘Private auctions’ look out for that little bit that says, ‘this is a Private listing, your details will not be disclosed to anyone’ What does that mean? Well it really means the seller is hiding something, and despite what they may state in their auctions, it’s not because they are protecting you from spam emails or sellers with similar items. Their probable real reason is to prevent you from finding out the truth, because by using Private Auctions or Private Bidding, they are trying to stop you from finding out what they have sold in the previous weeks, and are preventing other eBay users from warning you about the possible fake item you are bidding on.
4/ Where are they located? In the location spot they may say they are ‘The best on eBay’ and try and hide their real location from you. Some of these so called ‘dealers’ are running their scams from another country, Spain, France, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Singapore and Australia all have forgers who have targeted the UK, because they simply can’t get caught by UK Police or Trading Standards. Don’t just accept what the item location says. If they are a registered on eBay as a business seller, then they will have their full business address at the bottom of the page. In addition, click on the sellers ID top right next to their feedback and that will also tell you which county they are in.
5/ Read their feedback, see what other people say about them. But surely I here you say, all these fakes and scams will all show up in the feedback, but why should they? The seller has sent out the goods on time, which the buyer believes are authentic (otherwise they would not have purchased in the first place) and so the buyer leaves feedback accordingly. It could well years before the buyer finds out the truth, and then it’s too late. Feedback should always be checked, but don’t rely on it, it can be faked (shill bidding) boosted (by buying cheap items) and does not always tell the truth about the seller. Use it as a guide only, and look deeper to find out the truth. You may be able to find out where the seller buys from by checking the Feedback from sellers tab (click on the number in brackets next to the seller ID, and then ‘From Sellers’ tab), this will show you the items that the seller has purchased on eBay, and can be very enlightening! This feedback page can tell you more about the seller than they want you to know, so take a good look! I have seen many sellers on eBay that have 100% perfect feedback, but have never sold a genuine signature in their life!
Those 5 pointers should help you to make create a much better picture of the seller, but there are still other things to look for.
One scam that is sometimes employed is for the seller to show the real thing, but send you a fake. I have been caught with this one more than once, and there is no real way to be sure any seller is doing this, but if you check their past sales you can sometimes spot the exact same image more than once.
The really clever ones only start relisting the same items after 30 days, which is why you should use Goofbay to check every seller before bidding, as this allows a 90 day search.
Some sellers will have more than one account, but alternate between them. This allows them to sell on one account for say 7 days, and then move to another account selling similar items for another 7 days and so on. If they get caught out on one account, they simply switch to another. You will find that sellers who do this often offer different items on each account, and change the location to try and put you off the scent, but will still make the same spelling mistakes, use the same terms or description etc, so a little detective work here can really pay off.
Always remember that you will not be the only person to have found that Frank Sinatra signature starting at 99p that is guaranteed to be genuine! Hundreds of other very experienced collectors and dealers will also have searched for the same thing, and if they believe it to be genuine, then they will be biding as well. So if at the final curtain the item only fetches 50% or less of what you would expect it to go for, then the chances are that the dealers and collectors have stayed away because they did not like it.
In my experience, a genuine item listed to start at a low price, will normally finish at around 75% or higher of what a dealer would offer the same item at with a fixed price. And if you have been doing your homework, you will already have a good idea of what that Sinatra signature is worth won’t you?
There was once a seller in Italy who offered World Cup 1966 and other football signed covers on a weekly basis. He would show the real thing, but then send out his own a fakes. He would also make a second chance offer to the under bidders, thereby selling several of the same fake item at the same time, and would also accept offers from buyers before the item ended. These he would ask to be paid direct via PayPal, but of course they would also get a fake one. It was a clever con, and does still happen, but if all his buyers had read this guide, very few would have been fooled!
If a seller will not accept PayPal, then I would be very careful about buying from them. PayPal does have its pitfalls, but from a buyer’s point of view it offers you enormous protection. If a seller wants to use some form of payment other than Paypal or will only accept cash, then just walk away, as this is not only risky, but is also breaking eBay rules regarding payment, and the seller should be reported to eBay. If you should get ripped off using this payment method, then eBay will not help you.
What about those wonderful COA’s? Any good dealer will tell you the same, that they are not worth the paper they are printed on. Sure, a good seller will provide one, and it should always have their full contact details etc printed on it too, but always remember that a COA proves nothing, other than possibly where you bought it. An item is either genuine or not, and no COA, even one with triple holograms, DNA, matching numbers, or a fancy ribbon will ever make a sows ear into a silk purse! And those sellers that suggest their items can be proven authentic by some third party authenticator or forensic examiner? Forget it, even one of the ones used by eBay has been proven to authenticate both printed signatures and autopens as genuine, and indeed a number have recently lost the ability to have their COA’s even mentioned on eBay!
What if the seller is a member of XYZ Association? So they might be, but does that Association actually exist? Does it really mean anything or could anyone join? I have seen a number of sellers who have simply made up the name of an association and in two cases even created a website to go with it. In every case, always check that the Association exists, and that the seller is a member and that they also have other members as well! The only Associations for any dealer that are worth being a member of are the PADA, AFTAL or the UACC (but only as a Registered Dealer, not just a member).
Always avoid one-day auctions, only a fool or a fraudster uses these! One-day auctions are used to try and make a quick kill, and are the favourites of the eBay ID hijackers, those people that send you those Phishing emails! Once they have your ID and password, they hijack your ID and then upload auctions for anything that will sell quickly (they don’t have the goods, so it really can be anything). They only use 1-day auctions, because it normally takes eBay at least 24 hours to react to someone reporting a hijacked ID, so giving the scammers a full 24 hours to upload the auctions and make the sales. The money of course goes into a hijacked PayPal account and then to a foreign bank somewhere. Tip! Never use the same password for your eBay account as for your PayPal account.
By getting to know a few of the good dealers, you can build up a rapport with them and be able to ask them advice about other items. I speak with other dealers on a daily basis, and this enables us to learn form one another and pass on valuable information. I and almost every other dealer I know are always happy to help with any aspect of collecting autographs get to know a few real live dealers, rather than just those ‘virtual’ dealers on eBay, and you may be surprised at what you might learn!
There are many other things to be wary about when buying autographs on eBay, I have covered the important things here, but you still need to be careful, so keep your eyes open, check every detail, and if it seems too good to be true, well, it probably is!
Where to Find Those Efficient and Hardworking Affiliates?
Everyone wants a hardworking affiliate, employee, associate, partner, or even spouse, and why not? It’s the next best thing to doing the work yourself. However with the massive outbreak of work and income opportunities available online, how can you beat everyone else and find that one (or more) ideal person who will make your online business explode with success? Here are some of the most ingenious and uncommon ways to snag the idea affiliates for your affiliate program
Direct Sales Agents
Direct sales people are really one of the most enterprising, hard-working individuals in business. They mostly work on commissions or rebates and are willing to literally go door-to-door offering their products to anyone and everyone they bump into. Imagine how much easier their job would be if they could be an affiliate and simply work via the Internet and a mobile device or desktop.
Also, most direct sales people tend to carry more than one brand in their product arsenal so signing up as an affiliate would be almost the same type of work but using a different approach.
Colleges and Universities
Many college kids would be interested in a part-time income opportunity if it would mean funds to help pay for their education, loan, or partying. All you have to do is make sure to offer them products they can endorse as a student.
Did you know that the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest annual report show that 75% of U.S. businesses used freelancers in 2011? Freelancers earned a whopping US$990 billion in 2011 which is a 4.1% increase from the previous year. The only industries where the number of freelancers decreased were in insurance, finance, and construction. Most probably your affiliate program isn’t a part of these 3 industries.
Furthermore, online business and finance experts are predicting the growth to increase incrementally every year even with an economy that is improving. People just want income security and more control over their earnings. With the spate of lay-offs, it’s understandable why many would prefer to work as an affiliate than as an employee.
Scout For Them At Affiliate Conventions
There are annual affiliate conventions held in different cities around the country. You should try to catch one when it is held somewhere near your location. The average turn-out for these types of conventions has increased regularly over the years. Last year, many of them were sold out weeks before the event.
The US Census Bureau has said that as of 2012, 15% of Americans are poor, 43% of young adults depend on their parents to some extent for money. Even more surprising is that the median income of young adults in 1982 was $31,583 and last year it was $30,604 for the same age group! Income is dropping and people are looking for ways to earn additional income outside of their 9 to 5 jobs. That’s where you can come in playing the hero and helping others realize their dream income.
Finally, go online and talk about your product. Make the affiliate marketers come to you and have the luxury of picking the best candidates. You will need some help in marketing your affiliate program so target a marketer who’s experienced in affiliate program and SEO.
Recession Is Here… Six Costly Mistakes Home Sellers Make During Recessions And How To Avoid Them
The U.S. is officially in a recession. What is a recession? A recession is a business cycle contraction or general economic decline due to significant drop in spending and other commercial activities. Most pundits and politicians will blame Covid-19 crisis for the recession, but even pre-Covid-19 the proverbial writing was on the wall.
The U.S. had over 120 months of economic growth, which was the longest expansion in the modern history. Other indicators, such as negative yield spread on treasuries (long term bonds having lower interest rates than short term T-notes), were pointing to an imminent change of the economic cycle and an impending recession. The only real question was: when and how bad?
Then Covid-19 came… If the cycle was going to change anyway, Covid-19 acted as a huge and unexpected accelerant to make the recession much more immediate and severe.
Inevitably during recessions all classes of real estate, including residential homes and condominiums, will be negatively impacted as lower consumer spending and higher unemployment rates affect real estate prices and marketing times.
Here are the six costly mistakes home and other real property sellers make during recessions and how to avoid them:
Mistake #1: This will pass and real estate market will be hot again soon
First thing to remember is that real estate cycles are much longer than general economic cycles. Even if the general economy recovers, which eventually it always does, a typical real estate cycle takes as long as 10 to 15 years. The cycle has four key stages: Top, Decline, Bottom and Rise.
Let us consider the last real estate cycle, which lasted approximately 14 years:
- 2006 – Prices hit the Top
- 2006 to 2012 – Prices Decline
- 2012 – Prices hit the Bottom (Trough)
- 2012 to 2019 – Prices Rise*
- 2020 – Prices hit the Top
- 2020 to? – Prices Decline
*NOTE: In 2016 the national residential real estate price index reached its pre-recession 2006 peak levels. It took 10 years for the real estate market to recover.
The way to avoid this mistake is to recognize that real estate cycles take years to run and plan accordingly. Additionally, nobody knows for sure when the prices will hit the top or bottom until after the fact.
Mistake #2: Low interest rates will make the economy and real estate market rebound
Between 2006 and 2011 the interest rates (Fed Funds) were continuously cut by the Federal Reserve Board and went from low 5% to almost 0%. However, that did not stop the real estate recession and depreciation of property values.
Undoubtedly, low interest rates made the economic decline and real estate recession less severe and saved some properties from foreclosures, but it still took six painful years for the real estate market to hit the bottom and then four more years for the prices to go back to their pre-recession levels.
Some markets had never fully recovered. For example, residential home prices in some parts of California, Arizona and Nevada are still below their 2006 highs.
To avoid this mistake, one needs to realize that although low interest rates help stimulate the economy and the real estate market, they do not cure them.
Mistake #3: I don’t need to sell now, so I don’t care
If you do not need to sell until the cycle plays out, which typically is over ten years, then you will not be as affected, especially if you have a strong equity position, limited mortgage debt, and solid liquid assets.
However, it is good to keep in mind that “life happens” and either professional or personal circumstances can change and we may need to sell property before the downturn runs its course.
Furthermore, if a property has a mortgages and its value declines to the point being “upside down,” meaning the mortgage loan balance exceeds the value of the property, then the options of selling, refinancing or even obtaining an equity line of credit, will be significantly limited.
This does not mean that everybody should be rushing into selling their real estate if there is no need to do so, just keep in mind that circumstances may and often do change and property options will be affected, so plan in advance. As one wise proverb says: “Dig your well before your thirst.”
Mistake #4: I’m selling, but I won’t sell below my “bottom line” price
This is a common and potentially very costly mistake. Generally speaking, every seller wants to sell for the highest price and every buyer wants to pay the lowest price. That’s nothing new. When selling real estate, most sellers want to achieve a certain price point and/or have a “bottom line.”
However, it is important to understand that the market does not care what the Seller, or his/her Agent, think the property value should be at. The market value is a price a willing and able buyer will pay, when a property is offered on an open market for a reasonable amount of time.
Overpricing property based on Seller’s subjective value or what is sometimes called an “aspirational price,” especially in a declining market, is a sure first step to losing money. When a property lingers on the market for an extended period of time, carrying costs will continue to accumulate and property value will depreciate in line with the market conditions.
Additionally, properties with prolonged marketing times tend to get “stale” and attract fewer buyers. The solution is to honestly assess your selling objectives, including the desired time-frame, evaluate your property’s attributes and physical condition, analyze comparable sales and market conditions, and then decide on market-based pricing and marketing strategies.
Mistake #5: I will list my property for sale only with Agent who promises the highest price
Real estate is a competitive business and real estate agents compete to list properties for sale which generate their sales commission incomes. It is not unusual that Seller will interview several agents before signing an exclusive listing agreement and go with the agent who agrees to list the property at the highest price, often regardless if such price is market-based.
Similarly to Mistake #4, this mistake can be very damaging to Sellers, as overpriced properties stay on the market for extended periods of time costing Sellers carrying expenses such as mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, utilities and maintenance.
Furthermore, there is the “opportunity cost” since the equity is “frozen,” and it cannot be deployed elsewhere till the property is sold. However, the most expensive cost is the loss of property value while the real estate market deteriorates.
During the last recession, we have seen multiple cases where overpriced properties stayed on the market for years and ended up selling for 25% to 40% below their initial fair market values.
The solution is to make sure that your pricing strategy is based on the market, not empty promises or wishful thinking.
Mistake #6: I will list my property only with Agent who charges the lowest commission
Real estate commission rates are negotiable and not set by law. A commission usually represents the highest transactional expense in selling real properties and is typically split between Brokers and Agents who work on the transaction
Some real estate agents offer discounted commissions, in order to induce Sellers to list their properties with them. But does paying a discounted commission ensure savings for the Seller? Not necessarily.
For example, if the final sales price is 5% to 10% below property’s highest market value, which is not that unusual, due to inadequate marketing, bad pricing strategy, and/or poor negotiation skills, it will easily wipe out any commission savings and actually cost the Seller tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenues.
The solution is to engage an agent who is a “Trusted Advisor,” not just a “Salesperson.” A Trusted Advisor will take his/her time and effort to do the following: 1) Perform Needs Analysis: listen and understand your property needs and concerns; 2) Prepare Property Analysis: thoroughly evaluate your property and market conditions; 3) Execute Sales and Marketing Plan: prepare and implement custom sales and marketing plan for your property; and 4) Obtain Optimal Results: be your trusted advocate throughout the process and achieve the best possible outcome.
Finding such a real estate professional may not be always easy, but it certainly is worth the effort and will pay off at the end.
In conclusion, this article has outlined six costly mistakes real estate Sellers make during recessions and how to avoid them. The first mistake is not understanding that real estate cycles are long and take years. The second mistake is a misconception that low interest rates alone will create a recovery. Another mistake is not realizing that circumstances may change and not planning in advance. Mistakes number four, five and six pertain to understanding the market value, proper pricing and selecting the right real estate professional.
By understanding and avoiding these mistakes, real estate Sellers have significantly better chances of minimizing the negative impact of a recession while selling their properties.
Useful Tips To Build The Best Gaming Computer
Every gamer will want their computer to be the best gaming computer among their peers. Sometimes, with a little knowledge and tips and tricks, it is possible to build the best gaming computer and show it off to your peers. This article will show you how:
1) You can’t get the best gaming computer from computer retailers
If you want to get the best gaming computer, you have to build your own. Different gamers have different requirement for their gaming machine. Unless you are willing to pay a high price, you will not be able to buy a commercial computer that fulfills all your gaming needs. The only option you have is to build your own gaming computer.
2) You don’t have to be rich to build the best gaming computer
It is not necessary to burn a hole in your pocket to build the best gaming computer. With some due diligence, do some market research and compare prices around the marketplace. Merchant such as TigerDirect and NewEgg give regular discount to their products and you could save a lot of money if you catch them during their promotional period.
3) Most expensive parts do not have to be the best part
Sometime, the latest model or the most expensive model does not have to be the best part for your computer. It requires various components to work together to form the best computer system. When choosing a computer part, what matters is how well it can integrate with the rest of the components. Compatibility is more important than individual performance. What use is there if you spend lot of money on the latest quad-core processor and find that your motherboard doesn’t support it?
4) You don’t need to change the whole PC to own the best gaming computer
It is a misconception that you have to change the whole gaming machine to build the best gaming computer. If you already have a good barebone system, what you need to do is to upgrade the necessary parts and your gaming computer can roar back to life instantly.
5) Brand is important
Unless you want to see your computer system malfunction every few days, it is important that you purchase the parts from branded manufacturers with strict quality control. Motherboard brand such as Gigabyte, ABIT, ASUS are some quality brands that you can consider
If you follow diligently to the tips stated above. You will be on your way to build the best gaming computer. While price can be an issue, it is better not to scrimp on important computer parts such as motherboard, CPU, RAM and graphics card as it will cost you more to upgrade in the future.
Where to Find Those Efficient and Hardworking Affiliates?
Recession Is Here… Six Costly Mistakes Home Sellers Make During Recessions And How To Avoid Them
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