"For sale" ad rules/etiquette

  1. How is “$xxx or best offer” supposed to work? I understood it to mean the prospective buyer makes an offer lower than $xxx, and if the seller doesn’t get a higher offer over some reasonable time frame, they may choose to accept that offer. Is that correct?

  2. Seller posts a “for sale” ad with a fixed price on an online classifieds site. Person A e-mails the seller saying “I’m interested, but I have some questions about the item.” An hour later person B e-mails the seller saying “I’ll take it.” Does the seller have an obligation to answer person A’s questions and give him/her a chance to commit to the deal, or can/should the seller ignore person A and sell to person B?

  1. If it is something I really want I let them know I’ll pay the asking price. If it is something I’m sorta intrested I’ll wait a few days then offer a price I’d be more willing to pay.

  2. I would expect person B to get the item. First person to pay the asking price wins. A courtousy email to person A letting them know the item is sold would be expected.

Contracts are about making and accepting offers. In case A, the seller is offering the item at $xxx, bt lets it be known that offers less than that will be considered, but not necessarily accepted. (If you offer at $100, but the only offer that comes back is for $5, you really do not have an obligation to accept that because it’s the “best offer”).

In case B, asking questions is not the equivalent of accepting an offer, or even an indication that you are interested in buying at all. So the seller has no obligations to the person asking the questions at all, though it would be courteous to say that the item has been sold.

I really can’t see the point of ‘or offer’ modifiers in classified ads; it’s almost a guarantee that you won’t get your asking price. If anyone is of the barganing oeuvre, they’re going to make you an offer even if you haven’t explicitly invited offers, and I don’t think it’s likely to attract more interest, except perhaps from very ruthless bidders who might see ‘or offer’ as a sign of weakness and hope to drive the price right down.

I agree with Mangetout. You don’t want to say OBO. Just say $1000 and let those who care to take the bargaining stance have at it. If you won’t accept a lesser offer under any circumstances, say $1000 FIRM. You will only be bothered by those truly interested in giving you what you want for it.

Not sure how to handle the multiple inquiries part of your question, but most people know that a person is trying to unload something and will follow the First Come First Served rule. Cash in hand is “first” for most people.

Oddly enough, many ads I’ve run with OBO don’t result in any bargaining - I generally get what I’ve asked.

I’m surprised. I’ve always thought OBO meant more than the asking price; that the set price was a minimum, and the seller has no objections to a bidding war.

I always figured OBO meant that your main goal was just getting rid of the damn thing, but here’s a ballpark of what you’d hope to get for it.

Well you learnt something new today then. Unless you want to buy something I’m selling at least, in which case please do offer more than the asked price :slight_smile: