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No, we’re not talking about the woodwind instrument. OBO is an essential acronym if you want to be an online seller. Keep reading to find out why.

Or Best Offer

OBO stands for “or best offer.” It’s an acronym that sellers use to denote that they’re willing to accept a price outside their initial ask. This acronym is usually added at the end of the listed price in online marketplace websites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. For example, a post might read “$500 obo.” This initialism can be written in both uppercase and lowercase.

This acronym applies to all kinds of items, from smaller objects like individual pieces of clothing to more expensive things like electronics and vehicles. You’ll often see this item in posts where someone sells many objects at the same time and is pricing them “off-the-cuff.”

Sellers can also use this acronym if they aren’t entirely sure of the value of the item they’re selling. For example, you might not be sure about the resale value of a years-old phone, so you might quote it at a price you see online then invite people to negotiate with you.

RELATED: How to Sell Your Laptop, Phone, or Tablet for Top Dollar

The Origin of OBO

You can trace OBO back to the earliest days of online selling, as online forums, message boards, and classified websites emerged. The term’s earliest entry in the internet slang repository Urban Dictionary dates back to 2004 and reads, “Or best offer. Used in classifieds sections.”

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It became even more common online as online selling became the default way of getting rid of things around your house. It’s also a used on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Auctions vs. OBOs

Something that may be confusing is the difference between an auction on a website like eBay versus an “OBO” selling post.

Auction sales typically involve setting a base price and asking people to bid increasing prices on the item based on their perceived value. This means that there’s no actual cap on what the price of a particular item could be. While some sellers include a “Buy Now” price that allows users to skip the auction process, many people still participate in bidding in the hopes of getting a better price.

OBO posts serve as an invitation for prospective buyers to negotiate. It’s essentially a signal that you’re willing to accept less than your listed price. However, it also signals that there may be multiple people making an offer on the same item and that they’ll be comparing offers from different buyers before deciding who to sell it to. Depending on the rest of the post, OBO may also imply that the seller is willing to negotiate through non-monetary terms.

Other Than Money

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Non-monetary terms can mean a lot of things. It could include bartering, which is trading objects of similar value. A seller willing to compromise on their selling price might be open to receiving items, or a mix of money and objects. For example, someone trying to sell a phone might be willing to accept a combination of a lower-powered phone and cash.

A similar factor that comes into play during person-to-person negotiations is payment methods. Many sellers prioritize receiving money in cash, direct transfer apps like Venmo, or even cryptocurrency. These are alternatives to commerce-oriented platforms like credit cards and PayPal, which may take a percentage out of transactions and take longer to process. That means you might be able to negotiate a lower price if you can pay through a direct channel.

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Lastly, OBO might come with a sense of urgency. Suppose someone is trying to sell an object quickly because they’re moving or need the money soon. In that case, they may be willing to sell at a lower price if they can complete the transaction immediately. That means they might take an early offer even if they feel that they can get more money in the future.

How to Use OBO

If you’re a seller, using OBO is relatively simple: add the acronym to the price that you have listed in your post. This is an instant signal to prospective buyers that you’re open to negotiating the price. You can use it in both lowercase or uppercase.

Here are a few examples of the acronym in action:

  • “SELLING: My 3-year tablet, $900 obo!”
  • “Must go today! This couch, $40 obo.”
  • “$300 obo. Also willing to accept Amazon Gift Cards!”

Good luck, and happy shopping!

RELATED: How to Prepare a Computer, Tablet, or Phone Before Selling It

Profile Photo for Vann Vicente Vann Vicente
Vann Vicente has been a technology writer for four years, with a focus on explainers geared towards average consumers. He also works as a digital marketer for a regional e-commerce website. He's invested in internet culture, social media, and how people interact with the web.
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