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 sale. However, there are some categories where bids don't create a formal contract between the buyer and seller.

In our real estate and businesses categories, bids are considered non-binding. When you bid on an item in these categories, you agree to give the seller access to your contact details and, in turn, they can get in touch about a potential sale. 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 businesses 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 sale.

Read our full policy

Non-binding bid policy overview

Certain types of items cannot be sold through the auction or fixed price format on our site. Therefore, we have a separate policy for those types of items where placing a bid neither constitutes a legally binding contract or obligates the seller to sell the item. The high bidder is not obligated to purchase the item either. If you list these types of items on eBay, the listing cannot result in a binding contract to buy and sell the item, but is merely a means of introducing interested potential sellers to interested potential buyers. Furthermore, insincere bidding is not permitted.

Violations of this policy may result in a range of actions, including:

  • Limits on account privileges
  • Account suspension
  • Forfeit of eBay fees on cancelled listings
  • Loss of PowerSeller status


Some examples

The following types of items must be listed in the appropriate "non-binding bid" category (if such category exists), and may only be listed to solicit indications of interest for the item:

  • Real Estate (e.g., homes, real property)
  • Businesses (e.g., stock sale of businesses)

Mary is selling her house and has received many bids on the property. The listing closes with a high bidder and Mary is ready to close the sale. Unfortunately, the high bidder decides not to complete the transaction. Upset with this buyer, Mary tries to file for Final Value Fee credit through the Unpaid Item process. Mary, the seller, is in violation of the non-binding bid policy because bids on real estate are not contracts.

Example of a binding bid: Steve is bidding on a new rug for his living room and he wins the online auction. Later, he finds out that the rug is not big enough to cover his floor and he wishes to back out of the transaction, claiming the bid was non-binding. Steve, the buyer, is in violation of the Unpaid Item policy because the rug he was bidding on is not covered under the non-binding bid policy.

Additional information

In addition, we recommend that when you list any of the types of items outlined above you seek legal advice and the aid of an appropriate licensed professional. The purchase and sale of these types of items is complicated, and subject to a wide variety of laws, including those of the local jurisdiction and the country in which the item is located. If you list any of these types of items to solicit indications of interest you may, but are not obligated to, contact anyone who responds to your listing to discuss the sale of the item, subject to the terms of the Privacy Policy.

Visit Seller Help to find details of any policy issues with your account or listings, and get the information you need to quickly resolve them.

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 complexities in certain real estate transactions, bids on some categories of Real Estate on eBay are non-binding.

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