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Ebay Bidding - An Advanced Pro Tip "The Lie in Wait" method on getting an item you really want also know as "Auction Sniping."

Updated: Mar 11

So every once in a while I will see an item on Ebay that I absolutely want and have fallen in love with. If it is a "buy it now" and at a price I like, I will immediately push the button and buy it. However, there are often times when the item is up for a classic 10 day auction and has a timed ending. I don't always want to tip my hat to the rest of the world for what my ultimate highest bid will be just so that another bidder can have the time and research to decide if they are willing to pay more than I would. By placing a last minute or even at the last few seconds of the timed auction, I can often swoop in and win the auction by using this element of shock and awe and surprise.

What is the best strategy on buying an auction item that you really want and not losing out to another party in a bidding war?

Over the years, we have focused in on one technique which we call "The Lie in Wait " tactic it is also referred to as "Auction Sniping."

This is s somewhat controversial technique and not always appreciated by other bidders, however, it is a perfectly legal maneuver and one that is generally employed by more advanced bidders versus novices.

Read more about Auction Sniping at:

Here are the steps to orchestrate auction sniping or lying in wait.

  1. When you find the timed auction you do not place any bid initially.

  2. Write down the exact time that the auction will end.

  3. Until the auciton ends you will "Lie in Wait" and hope that the auction bids are slow in coming and that the bid price remains somewhat low.

  4. Around 1 hour before the auction ends you will need to assess the situation and see if the auction has had any traction or not. If the item is below the price you want to pay, then you can continue forward. However, if there has already been a substantial bidding war prior to the end of the auction, then you may just have to bow out.

  5. In the scenario where it appears the auction is slow with few bidders and a low price, then this is where after "lying in wait," you now pounce! At around 10 seconds before the auction ends you place your bid and hope that this last minute element of surprise does not give the other bidder or biddders time to reconsider upping what they were willing to pay. Your hope is that they became complacent and thought that no one else was going to show up and that they didn't even put in a much higher auto bid on what they were willing to pay than what was currently showing in the auction. So in example, if the current bid is $775.00 and you are willing to pay $1,250.00, you are hoping that the current bidder's highest bids they were willing to autobid are below the $1,250.00. So if the leading other bidder has a highest auto bid of $1,000 and you pounce in over that, they won't have time to reconsidering upping their offer to outbid you.

I have used this technique several times very effectively. The other bidders usually have no idea that you are there and have been lying in wait the entire time to try to make a last minute power play bid to close the deal before they realize what happened and is now too late for them to bid higher. Unfortunatley, I have also been on the other end of that stick as well. At a recent Ebay Auction for a beautiful mixed metals copper box made by Gorham, I thought I had it in the bag for $767.00. This was the current bid price for over 6 days with no change. At the very last few seconds of the auction, however, a hidden fox lying in wait stole it away from me. I had my highest auto bid at a max of $1,000.00 and thought it was a done deal. The other bidder came in and pounced with a big auto bid that beat my $1,000 and made the next highest bid $1,025.00. I barely was even able to give another bid, but some how got out $1,075. Unfortunately, their auto high bid was still yet even higher than that and they won the item for $1,100.00. My highest I was willing to pay was $1,000, but getting beat out by only $100 kinda sucked. They defiintely outfoxed me and successfully used the lie in wait tactic on me. Definitely try this tactic out some time and let us know if you succeeded with it or not. Hopefully, we won't be opposing each other in future auctions and surprising the hell out of each other.


Here is the auction item we recently lost on by someone else employing the "Lie in Wait" tactic on us to win out. I really wanted the piece badly, but at $1,100 or more I wanted it a lot less than when I thought I had it in the bag for $767.00. Another piece like this one will come along again and hopefully next time it is a passive" buy it now" or hopefully an auction where a fellow fox lying in wait is not also attending.


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Greg Arbutine

Silver Museum Owner

The Silver Museum buys sterling silver made by Gorham.    Please sell your Gorham copper and silver mixed metals pieces to The Silver Museum!

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Dec 14, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Great Auction Bidding Tip! Will try this some time.

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