Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Reserve Price


The reserve price is a minimum price set by the seller in an auction, below which they are not willing to sell an item. It serves as a safety net to ensure that an item doesn’t sell too cheaply to an undesired price level. If bidding does not reach the reserve price, the auctioneer is not obligated to sell the item, thus protecting the seller’s value.


The phonetics of the keyword “Reserve Price” is: /rɪˈzɜːrv praɪs/

Key Takeaways

  1. The Reserve Price is the minimum amount that a seller is willing to accept for an item in an auction. It is set by the seller and acts as a safety net to ensure they receive an acceptable amount for their goods or property.
  2. The Reserve Price is typically kept confidential and hidden from bidders. If bids do not meet or surpass the reserve price, the seller preserved the right to reject the highest bid, thus making the item unsold. This mechanism protects sellers from selling items below their valued worth.
  3. On the other hand, a high reserve price could dissuade potential bidders from participating in an auction, potentially leading to a lower final price. So, it’s crucial for sellers to fix a realistic reserve price based on the good’s estimated value and market trends.


The term Reserve Price holds significant importance in business and finance as it refers to the minimum price the seller is willing to accept for an item in an auction. This price safeguards the seller from having to sell their item at an undesirably low price. The implementation of a reserve price protects the seller’s investment and ensures they receive an adequate amount of compensation, particularly when the market is volatile or the item’s value is high. If the bidding doesn’t reach the reserve price, the seller is typically under no obligation to sell the item, thus minimizing potential loss. Therefore, the reserve price is an essential strategic tool in auction-based transactions that provides a safety net for sellers.


A Reserve Price serves as a vital safety net for sellers in an auction setting, ensuring that their item does not sell for a price less than what they deem acceptable. The reserve price is the absolute lowest amount the seller is willing to accept for an item. It allows sellers to protect their financial interests by preventing the loss that would occur if the item was sold well under its real market value. Before the auction, the seller sets the reserve price, usually kept confidential, and the auction house tries to meet or exceed it during the bidding process.This economic strategy encourages both buyer participation and fair price realization. From the sellers’ perspective, the reserve price reduces the risk of a poor outcome, e.g., when there is lower bidder turnout or bidders with low valuations. For potential buyers, they are often more motivated to participate in an auction when they know there’s a possibility of acquiring an item below a certain value. However, they don’t know the reserve price, making the bidding process competitive and fair. Hence, the reserve price performs an essential function by providing a minimal guarantee to the seller while maintaining buyer competition.


1. Real Estate Auctions: A homeowner looking to sell their property may set a reserve price of $200k with an auction house. This can be kept confidential between the seller and the auctioneer. Even though initial bids might be lower, the property won’t be sold unless a bid meets or exceeds this reserve price. 2. eBay Listings: Consider an eBay user who is selling a rare vintage baseball card. They don’t want to sell it for less than its estimated value, let’s say $1,000, so that’s the reserve price they set. All the bid amounts will be visible to the bidders but they won’t know if the reserve price has been met until it actually has been.3. Art Auctions: An artist or art seller may set a reserve price on a piece of artwork to ensure it does not sell for less than its worth. For example, a famous painting may have a reserve price of $1 million. If bidding does not reach this amount, the artwork will not be sold.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Reserve Price?

A Reserve Price is the minimum price that a seller is willing to accept for an item being sold in an auction. The seller is not obligated to sell the item below this price.

Is the Reserve Price disclosed to bidders in an auction?

This can depend on the auction rules. In some cases, the reserve price may be disclosed, while in others it is kept confidential.

How does the Reserve Price affect the bidding process?

If bidding does not reach the reserve price, the item will not be sold. This can affect the strategy of bidders, who may be encouraged to bid higher to meet the reserve.

Can the Reserve Price change during an auction?

The Reserve Price is set prior to the auction and typically does not change during the auction. However, the seller does have the right to change it under certain circumstances.

Why would a seller use a Reserve Price in an auction?

A seller uses a Reserve Price to ensure that they do not sell the item at a price lower than they are comfortable with. It protects the seller from selling their item at a loss.

What happens if the Reserve Price is not met in an auction?

When bidding does not meet the reserve price, the item will not be sold unless the seller decides to lower their reserve or sell at the highest bid.

Does every auction item have a Reserve Price?

No, not all auction items have a Reserve Price. Some items may be sold with no reserve, which means they will be sold to the highest bidder regardless of the bid amount.

Is there any benefit to the buyer regarding the Reserve Price?

Yes, the Reserve Price can be a point of reference as it might give a general idea on how much the seller values the item. Nonetheless, the actual value or worth of an item is typically determined by the highest bid.

Related Finance Terms

  • Auction
  • Minimum Bid
  • Starting Bid
  • Bid Increment
  • Absentee Bid

Sources for More Information

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More