Selling an Expensive Item on eBay
August 4, 2022 11:12 AM   Subscribe

I have a 2017 iMac that Apple will only give me $250 for if I trade it in. eBay listings for that model + its extras are going for ~$1100. This is tempting me, but I've never sold something so expensive on eBay before, and something tells me it's going to be scary. Should I go with the safe path even though it'll give me a pittance in return, or take a gamble to recoup some of the value? I paid ~$3k for the iMac originally and it's still in beautiful condition.
posted by The Adventure Begins to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There's always the middle ground - Facebook Marketplace and local delivery, cash in hand, somewhere you trust. It's definitely worth it, the official trade-in is nice and easy, but it's not always the best economic value.
posted by Kyol at 11:15 AM on August 4 [7 favorites]

What Kyol said is exactly what I did when I sold my iMac. I sold it via a local group, and actually got a similar amount to what I would have on eBay, because the buyer also found it to be lower-risk and lower-hassle (and didn't need to pay for shipping).

I will say, when you're setting the price, make sure you're actually looking at completed/sold items. Lots of things get listed on eBay for much more than they will eventually sell for, and if you expect that much, you might be disappointed.
posted by primethyme at 11:27 AM on August 4 [8 favorites]

I've sold tens of thousands of dollars worth of very expensive stuff on eBay (for someone else). Everything went smoothly. I never had a single problem with a buyer or with getting the money. Lowballers can be annoying, but those offers are easy to ignore, and you can set up your listing to reject them automatically.

But you need to check to see what similar iMacs have actually sold for (i.e. look at completed listings), and not just what people are asking. I find it very hard to believe that after the release of the current M1-based computers, that anyone would pay $1100 for a five-year-old computer when they could get a new 24" iMac for $200 more, or a Mac Mini and a monitor for less — both of which would be massively faster. Unless yours has its RAM maxed out and has one of the top-end video cards, there's not much incentive to pay that much. And even then, it's a five year old computer.

I sold a slightly older iMac with 32gb RAM and a 1TB hard drive last year on Facebook (I didn't use marketplace — I just posted that it was for sale, so an acquaintance bought it) for $500, and that seemed reasonable.

Also, see what Ebay's commission is on computer sales (I think it's between 10% and 15%), and estimate the value of the time you'll spend answering questions, packing the thing up, and shipping it off, and see where that puts you in terms of gross profit.
posted by jonathanhughes at 11:28 AM on August 4 [9 favorites]

Swappa is another option.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:43 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]

Be sure you are filtering by items that actually sold in order to get a true idea of the market value.
posted by manageyourexpectations at 1:51 PM on August 4 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: LOL good call, I'm looking at maybe $500-600 when seeing recently sold items. My specs are a bit higher than what's being listed:

iMac i7 4.2GHz 27" (Mid 2017) 3TB Fusion Drive

So maybe I'd collect a little more.

I've never used Facebook Marketplace. How should I make sure I'm protected on there?
posted by The Adventure Begins at 2:58 PM on August 4

FYI it seems to be possible to buy a couple parts and repurpose a 5K iMac into a display for another computer. I’m considering that as an end of life plan when mine’s no longer a viable computer, although your own willingness to attempt it may be different than mine. I upgraded the SSD in mine using an iFixit kit last year and it was about a four hour process, fully an hour of which was just painstakingly removing adhesive residue from the display glass. I’d be willing to do that again to preserve the investment in that 5K display.
posted by fedward at 4:34 PM on August 4

Facebook Marketplace is just a slightly higher profile version of craigslist, so you'd put up a posting saying a 2017 iMac and the specs, your asking price, and a picture, local pickup only, cash only. You'll get the usual flakes - "can you ship?" "Western union?" "I'll pay $50, tops" "can I trade for a case of velveeta?", but eventually someone serious will come along, then you just sort of nail down the details and you make the exchange at Starbucks or your local PD or wherever you feel safe.

But that's about the end of it, Facebook doesn't need to be involved in the transaction beyond bringing the seller and buyer together. You aren't shipping your computer off to a stranger who will claim it was lost in shipping or that you shipped them a brick, and you aren't getting paid with an overdrafted check - the buyer has your old computer, you have cash money.

The only complication is that since it's an imac, you'll want to think about how you can demonstrate to the buyer that you aren't selling them a completely dead computer. A laptop will run off battery for a little while, but you'll want to find an outlet.
posted by Kyol at 5:11 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]

Swappa was literally made for this.
posted by flamk at 12:31 AM on August 7

Ebay isn't scary if you have a very clear "you bought it, no returns." I'd go for it.
posted by tiny frying pan at 11:32 AM on August 7

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