You can’t prosper in the Warcraft economy if you don’t know the market value of the items in the world.
Auctioneer comes with a neat add-on called Informant which displays the selling and buying price of items at vendors (where they generally buy very low and sell very high). As an added bonus, Informant will tell you what professions items are used for.
Auctioneer itself tracks prices in the auction house and gives you an idea of the market value of the items you pick up. It is an invaluable aid in identifying bargains and determining what price to set in your own auctions.
Use the auction house
You can generally buy things cheaper in the auction house than you would from a vendor, and sell things dearer than you would to a vendor. So you really only use the vendors for basic items or stuff that’s bound to you and can’t be sold in the auction house.
Create an alternate character just for auctions
Let’s say you play for the Alliance. Create a new, level 1 human character and run straight to Stormwind and the auction house. Park this character in between the auction house, mailbox and bank. You’ll use the character to perform regular Auctioneer scans and post items for you. You send items to the alternate character in the mail to save you from running back and forth to the auction house. Send him or her some money and possibly some bags for extra storage to get started.
Never throw anything useful away
Informant will tell you when items are useful for professions even if you personally can’t use them. Send these to your alternate character for auctioning.
It’s not only green or better items that are worth posting in the auction house. A lot of white items are good sellers, particularly materials for the professions.
Always set a buy-out price
Whenever posting an auction always set a buy-out price so that those who want stuff right-here-right-know can make an immediate purchase. If you don’t do this they may instead select a more expensive item from another seller who does offer the option of immediate purchase.
Don’t round off your prices
Auctioneer will recommend prices for you based on what it estimates to be their market value. Most often the market value is higher than the auction house itself would recommend to you as a starting price. The prices often have odd numbers of silver and copper coins. If you manually adjust your prices always do the same rather than rounding them off; this will make your items look like they are using the default auction house recommendations.
Do long auctions
Always run 48 hour auctions to maximize the exposure for the items you post to the auction house.
Leverage your other characters and/or guild
If you have more than one character choose complementary professions for each one.
For example, make one character a herbalist/alchemist and use that one character to send potions to the others, saving them money on potions. Make another a skinner/leatherworker; if he is a hunter (for example) he can make leather armour for himself and for any other leather-wearing characters you might have (a rogue, for instance), and supply leather to another character who is a tailor. Likewise, the warrior/miner/blacksmith is another good combination.
If you don’t have multiple characters you can apply the same principles within your guild. The basic idea is to minimize expenses by helping each other. Excess materials can be sold at the auction house.
Generally materials are more profitable to sell than the end products that they are used to make. This is because although people want the end products, they prefer to make them themselves if they can because this enables them to level up their professions at the same time.
One exception to this rule is manufacturable quest items. If an item is needed for a quest and it can only be made by a professional and not bought, then often the item itself can be sold in the auction for a quick buck and will make more money than the materials needed to produce it. Here Auctioneer will help you in determining which items are going to make the most money for you.
For very high level items things get a little more complicated. There are some items which are very coveted and very difficult to make and they’ll fetch insanely high prices in the auction house. You’ll need to use Auctioneer here to help you figure out what the quickest way to make a profit is:
- selling the materials directly
- buying the materials yourself (if they’re not too expensive) and then selling the produced item
- collecting the materials yourself (if they are too expensive) and then selling the produced item
You’ll need to weigh up the costs (both money and time) and the possible profit margins.
Because materials are so important, if you have a character with a gathering profession then you should install Gatherer too (it’s written by the same team who maintain Auctioneer). This will remember where you’ve found materials in the past and help you to find them again in the future.
Keep a journal
Although Auctioneer does a good job of remembering the market prices for objects I find it useful to keep a journal of the items I sell in the auction house. Basically I have a page for each item and every time I make a sale I write down the date, the sale price, and whether the item was bought out or won by normal bidding. In this way at a glance I can get an idea of the market value over time of an item, and which ones are worth pursuing in the future.
Pick up bargains
When you scan the auction house you’re not just scanning to figure out what price you should be setting for the items you sell. You are also looking for bargains. Auctioneer can help you to identify items which are being sold for way less than their historical market value. Here you may find items that you can buy up cheaply and then resell later on at a higher value, or simply stuff that is desirable and which would otherwise be prohibitively expensive.