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Summary:

Conventional wisdom and a knowledge of Apple’s hardware upgrade cycles suggests the iPad 2 will be an evolutionary update, not a revolutionary one. Even so, it’s hard to avoid upgrade fever. Here’s how best to sell your existing iPad to fuel the purchase of your next.

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Conventional rumor wisdom suggests the iPad 2 will be an evolutionary update, not a revolutionary one, with the biggest feature additions being cameras and maybe an SD card slot. Of course, the iPad 2 will be faster, have more memory, and the display resolution may be higher, but why upgrade at all if you’re happy with your current model?

$140 is why.

That’s how little nine months of use on my 16GB Wi-FI iPad cost me (not including tax) after selling it for $475. A resale value of 95 percent of the original purchase price sounds insane, and it may be, but only if you’re buying at that price. For sellers, it means a new iPad every year is well within reach.

Selling: In-person or Online

If you live in a large city, you may want to sell your iPad through a free classified service like craigslist. If so, the rules are simple: Arrange for a cash only, in-person sale. I suggest meeting the buyer at an Apple Store, where the buyer can try out the iPad on the Wi-Fi network, or even have a Genius look it over. Don’t forget to bring your receipt to prove ownership and sale date.

If a local sale isn’t possible, eBay is your best bet. Love it or hate it (I mostly fall into the second camp), eBay probably offers the greatest potential profit when selling an iPad, and possibly the most risk, too, but the risks can be mitigated. For example, I chose not to sell internationally, despite the likely reduction in final sale price. I also stated I would not sell to new eBay members that appeared to have registered just to bid on my iPad, nor members with a lot of negative feedback. Arguably, I could have put myself in violation of eBay policies and been sanctioned, and I would have had to pay fees on a cancelled auction, but that’s nothing compared to selling an iPad and not getting paid at all. To that end, I also required a PayPal account with a confirmed address.

Apple iPad 16GB Wi-Fi *Warranty* *Free Shipping*

Auction titles on eBay can have up to 55 characters. The above title has 42, covers specifications and why this iPad is better than others, at least once people start selling iPads out of warranty. (The iPad hasn’t yet been available for a year, so technically they’re all under warranty right now.) Besides the title, a picture of the actual iPad and a short description is all you need.

For the picture, a presentation on woodgrain floor or table works best; not so much on a messy desk or upholstered surface. You can also link to pictures hosted elsewhere and avoid additional eBay image fees. As for the description, be honest about the condition of the iPad, including battery life. List everything you’re selling, all of which should also be in the picture. Explain why you’re selling the iPad. Make sure you give the date you bought it, and remind potential buyers they can extend the warranty another year by purchasing AppleCare.

Reiterate the conditions of the sale, whether or not you ship internationally, types of payment accepted, and what the return policy is. I would never buy a used iPad without the option to return it, so I wouldn’t expect others to. I gave three days to contact me about a return, requiring the buyer to pay return shipping costs.

Once the sale is made, wipe the iPad. You can do this on the device by going to Settings > General > Reset > Erase all Content and Settings. Charge it, shut it down, clean it thoroughly, and pack the iPad and all accessories in the original box. Pack that box in a larger one filled with styrofoam peanuts or other packing material. Using a form of shipping that provides tracking and requires signature for delivery is a must. UPS Ground is my shipper of choice. Remember, free shipping to the buyer sets your auction apart, but it does reduce your profit, as do using eBay and PayPal, but all of these measures reduce your risk and make the sale that much more likely to go through successfully.

Profit, Loss, and Value

I purchased my iPad for $500, plus another $40 in sales tax. It sold for $475 on eBay. Auction fees are 9 percent, up to a maximum $50, auctions being the least expensive in terms of fees when selling on eBay, plus another $2 insertion fee. For me, the total in eBay charges was about $45. Adding to that a $15 charge from PayPal for handling the monetary transaction, and about $15 to ship via UPS across the country, and the total cost of my iPad was $615. Subtracting the sale price, my iPad cost me $140 for nine months of usage, or about 50 cents a day.

At 50 cents a day, or less, upgrading to a brand new iPad every eleven months is a value proposition that’s hard to beat. Anyone else selling in anticipation of new hardware, or have any other advice for potential sellers?

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  1. You know… ebay has some buyer protection policies in place so you don’t have to be so paranoid. If you don’t get paid you simply don’t ship your product and you can write an appeal to ebay and they should relist it for free.

    PS I can’t wait for the next iPad because it will likely mean a serious drop in used iPad prices. Which means I may actually be able to get one.

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  2. I’d love to do this… however, I don’t think I could go without my iPad for that long. :-(

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  3. Wow…$475…people are stupid…Appple.com refurbished section $429 with free shipping, comes as a brand new one would with a different box and a fresh one year Apple warranty like a new product…no smudges, scratches fingerprints or wear of any kind…new case and battery…people are stupid…if you buy any used Apple product for more than Apple’s refurbished products you better be getting a boat load of accessories…good job at suckering an idiot…

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    1. Well Jonathan..For someone talking about how stupid people are you sure don’t sound like the brightest bulb around.

      As to the article, I’ve sold plenty of items on eBay simply to buy the latest version but between giving eBay/Paypal their cut and shipping I’m using Craigslist instead.

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  4. I agree with Nic. You would have to sell in the next month, which means being without the device for 2-3 months depending on when the new one comes out. That would suck.

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  5. @Jonathan – some of the buyers cannot buy locally or via the Apple store. If you are willing to ship overseas, you can actually make a profit. I’ve done this with my iPhone every year, so leave out the monthly carrier costs and I’m making money by using the best phone out there. I fully expect to upgrade my iPad yearly as well, just not quite at a profit.

    The profit part comes because many want iPhones without contracts as well.

    Having said that, people on eBay do get caught up in the auction battle – its a sellers market for the most part.

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  6. I managed to go even one better which I’m really rather proud of myself for. I’m a massive user of eBay (even though I really don’t like them all that much).
    Anyway, here’s my story; I purchased my iPad 32GB WiFi model through my work for £425 (store price: £499 – my company claimed back the VAT). Just sold it on eBay for £420 + £15 Insured Postage. So total sell is £435, my buyer paid via Bank Transfer (so no PayPal fees) which then got me thinking…
    I sent an email basically asking if, once they’d received the iPad and was happy with everything, if they’d be willing to let me send a “mutually cancel transaction” which would enable me to have my FVF credited back to my account. As a “thank you” I’d send £10 back to the buyer. The buyer was more than happy to do so but this, of course, meant that we wouldn’t be able to exchange feedback, which they were fine with.
    So the breakdown;
    £425 – purchase price (£499
    £420 + £15 p+p = £435 (total sold price)
    £427 (£8 shipping)
    £417 (£10 to seller)
    £415 (approx £2 listing fees)

    So a years ownership has cost me approx. £10

    For all you righteous folks out there – I don’t feel guilty as 1) this is the first time I’ve ever done such a thing and 2) I’ve been a member of eBay for close to 8 years with over 2000 100% +ve feedback – they’ve made a small fortune out of me, make no mistake. Also, the buyer has just purchased a product which, if they’d gone direct to Apple, would now cost £510 (due to the recent VAT rises here in the UK).

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    1. Righteous people? You have to be righteous to recognise someone has broken the law and is now encouraging others to do it by publicising it?

      Couch it how you like pal. You’re just the same as the other selfish jerks that are ruining the UK.

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  7. I was thinking about this, and after reading your article I went ahead and posted my 64G 3g iPad. I listed it for $675, with a buy now price of $729. The iPad sold in 2 hours for the buy now price. I had all accessories and original packing, plastic film and all. The buyer was very happy.

    So it cost me $100 and a few bucks in ebay/paypal fees to use an iPad for 8 months. Best of all I’m ready for iPad 2 or what ever it’s called.

    DarkHorseMBA

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