2 min article

Non-binding bid policy

In most product categories on eBay, when you place a bid in an auction it's considered binding – when you win an auction, you're agreeing to complete the purchase. However, there are some categories where bids don't create a formal contract between the buyer and seller.

For motor vehicles and real estate, bids are considered non-binding. When you bid on an item in these categories, you're expressing a strong interest in buying the seller's item, but no formal purchase contract is created if you're the winning bidder. For more details on non-binding bids, please see our full policy guidelines below.

Frequently Asked Questions


Why are bids in these categories non-binding?

Properties and vehicles are usually high-priced items, and their sale is often both complex and subject to a variety of laws. As such, it will often be necessary for potential buyers and sellers to exchange additional information before completing a transaction.

Read our full policy

Non-binding bid policy overview

A non-binding bid is a bid that shows a buyer's interest in purchasing an item, but it doesn't create a formal contract between the buyer and the seller.

All bids made in the Real Estate and eBay Motors vehicles categories are considered non-binding.

Remember, bids placed in any other category are a legal commitment to purchase the item. We strongly encourage you to read the other terms for more information.

Make sure your listing follows these guidelines. If it doesn't, you may be subject to a range of actions, including listing removal, limits on your buying and selling privileges, and suspension of your account.

What are the guidelines?

Allowed Allowed
  • Using listings to find buyers who are interested in purchasing your item
  • Including information about what buyers will need to do next (for example, deposits, transfer paperwork, and transportation options) in your listing
  • Adding a reserve price to your listing so that your minimum price is met
Not allowed Not allowed
  • Bidding without the intent of completing the purchase
  • Retracting a bid on an item that doesn't fall into a non-binding bid category
  • Backing out of the transaction due to buyer or seller remorse
  • Backing out of the transaction because buyers didn't place a high enough bid and the seller didn't add a reserve price
  • Stating in the listing that bidding could result in a binding obligation to complete the purchase

Some examples

Example of a non-binding bid:

Mary lives in Ontario and is the winning bidder on a car on eBay Motors listed by a dealer in British Columbia. Upon checking the paperwork, Mary learns that the car doesn't comply with the emissions requirements of Ontario and can't be registered there. Mary is not obligated to purchase the vehicle.

Example of a binding bid:

Steve is bidding on a new rug for his living room and he wins the auction. Later he finds out that the rug isn't big enough to cover his floor and he wants to back out of the sale, claiming the bid was non-binding. Because the rug wasn't listed in a non-binding bid category, Steve is obligated to pay for the rug.

Other terms

Buyers shouldn't bid on an item unless they intend to buy it. However, completing the purchase may depend on things like inspections and financing. We strongly encourage sellers to include information in their listings about the requirements a buyer will need to follow (such as deposits, transfer paperwork, and transportation options) after the listing is over.

While eBay can't guarantee the completion of the sale or require members to complete a sale when a listing isn't binding, our rules require sellers and buyers to follow through with the sale in good faith.

Why does eBay have this policy?

In most cases, a bid on eBay is a legally binding contract between the buyer and the seller. Due to state laws and the complexities of real estate and vehicle transactions, bids in those categories are non-binding.

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