Part 1 How to sell-
If I were to tell you right off the bat the three most important steps to take in order to maximize your gain on the auction house, it would undoubtedly be; timing, timing and timing. In-game economics works very much the same as in real life, and that is through a supply and demand system. Scarcity leads to high prices and abundance has you trying for days and days on end until you give up and lower the price to a point of no profit. Well, the question is, could such a system be somewhat predicted? Is a simulated economy with no material gain easier to control than the stock market? In some ways yes, and I will be sharing some of my discoveries so far concerning the best methods of selling and buying on the auction house. It is important to also take note of different server populations as well as the majority of players playing from a specific time zone.
First of all, if you are looking to sell items of high value, do it when the cluster is most active and a lot of players are logged in. Take advantage of all holidays and most of all the weekends! Most of the high priced valuables sell the best if placed on the auction house Friday at noon and left for 48 hours. This gives you enough chances of having your item spotted by someone and also a large enough window of time in which he can come back and check his bid whenever he pleases. It always pays off to study the market well before planning to put valuable items on it, observe trends and see how much competition you are facing. It is possible that many people start selling with the beginning of the weekend thus you might be able to speculate some of the prices and the demand of your item. Crafting ingredients such as Sturdy Hide or Silver Ingots tend to sell well while recipes and some crafted goods have a hard time being sold even during high peak activity. This brings another factor into the equation, seeing what is worth selling and what is better off selling to the vendor. Usability, level and uniqueness are just some factors of consideration when deciding to sell an item. As mentioned, a Silver Ingot has many branching possibilities of usage therefore a greater chance of being sold. A crafted necklace can only fit a certain class of a certain level with a certain profile, hence reducing your chances.
Bid vs. Buyout
To make explanations a lot easier, I will refer to an invented term called the auction factor. That can be obtained by dividing the buyout by the initial bidding amount. So, for example, you put out a crossbow for 200 silvers buyout and a 40 silvers initial bid, that would be an auction factor of 200/40 = 5. As shown in the image below, you are given a perfect model of how NOT to put an item on the auction house. The concept behind the buyout is to convince the player to buy the item at the higher price so he does not have to wait for the ending bid. This is crucial! You must have your auction factor calibrated in such a way to convince your buyer to always go for the buyout! As a selle,r you always want to push players for a buyout, not for bidding. Through this method you can obtain a significantly higher profit. The image shows the player selling the Sturdy Hide having already 1 bid which suggests early activity even though the item has been recently placed. Now, as a bidder you want to get this item as cheaply as possible since you are provided with the possibility of doing just so. Most of the bidders will wait for the last hour(s) to throw in a bid and hopefully be the last one to get it. My estimate is that by bidding so the item will never go over 50-60 silvers. This is a complete waste as some of the winnings of a 50 stack of hides can surpass 300 silvers, depending on scarcity.
For a generalized selling strategy, I would suggest going for an auction factor of about 2 to 3. That means your buyout should always be a maximum of twice to three times the amount of your initial bidding. You always have to guarantee a safe enough margin for your buyout in order to never have bidding come close to it but at the same time convince your potential customers that the wait is not worth the time. Risk taking might pay off on numerous occasions and all of us come across those wonderfully schemed auctions that have no buyout. This can be truly advantageous when dealing with a lot of competition on your item. To make your auction seen, lower the price enough to create some stir amongst the bidders. However, make sure it is high enough for you to reach market level and make a profit by the end. For example, you want to sell some Ruby Shards and you see there are quite a few people already on with multiple amounts set for the remaining of the next two days. Let us say the average for one Ruby Shard is about 400 silvers and you decide to start it at 300 silvers, without a buyout. Now, you are set below market average and will surely get attention, yet there is no guarantee you will reach 400 silvers or more by the end of your auction. If you need to sell an item badly this might be the way to do it and minimize your losses, or with some luck get an unexpected surprise. Again, it is all about timing and when you decide to go forth with the placement.
Since all of us are crafters, it is important to use your skills in order to sustain your costly habits. Only craft what sells!! Study the market and see what can be sold for the greatest amount and requires the most basic of ingredients which you can obtain. On numerous occasions I have bought recipes over and over just because a necklace would sell highly and never seem to run out of demand. If you have no recipe that uses a certain ingredient, such as Rich Iron, then sell the ingredient itself. If you are selling ore, sell it as ore and not ingots because you are broadening your prospective buyers to crafting levelers. After getting further and further into this realm of auction house dealing you will encounter many perverse situations which can do nothing but infuriate you. Yes, I am talking about those special cases such as the under-sellers. Everyone is selling for four times the amount but he decides getting rid of the item is much better than making any money off it. A clear example is shown in the following image where a player has placed an item for 2 silvers, and no buyout. Given the scarcity at the time all three sellers might get their item sold, depending on its usability and uniqueness. The first bidder has 8 bids and not even 3 silvers made. My presumption is that he will get no higher than 40 silvers by the end of his auction since players will realize the best chance to get the item will be at the last moment. The last auction on the list might actually be the winner profit wise. We are clued in on this by the time remaining which indicates he placed the auction after the player above him. He purposefully chose the amounts since he knew both would sell.
If your item refuses to sell do not rush! Items of high value can be stored away and auctioned off again in a week or so when the demand changes and more people get a chance to level to the item’s range. There is no need to lower prices unnecessarily or try desperately to sell it. You may try the Trade channel a few times however there is no guarantee anyone will answer since most of the people prefer to do their business on the auction house. Putting your item cheaper could guarantee a sell but at the same time it might not. Make sure you leave a margin for profit and never undersell. Most importantly players need to treat game economics a lot more seriously and organize themselves in order for maximizing profit. There is never a surplus of gold in our pockets and all of us know that. So why not repay our efforts for collecting or crafting these items?