Auctioneer O'ReelyThis is why we’re here…because this little grey rock sells for 20 million a kilo.
– Parker Selfridge (Avatar)

I just had a strange thought after picking that quote… I bet Giovanni Ribisi would make a good goblin when they eventually make the Warcraft movie!

Anyway, today’s topic is; The auction house. This should be a fairly broad article to give you a good introduction to what the auction house is about and give you some ideas for getting started making money from it. In future articles I’ll go in to more detail on various aspects of this.

The Basics

Located in every major city of Azeroth you will find at least one auction house (there are two in Stormwind for example). These auction houses allow you to trade items with other players of your own faction. You’ll also find auction houses located in the major Goblin towns; Booty Bay, Gadgetzan and Everlook. These auction houses allow you to trade with members of both factions, but carry a higher cost for doing so.

When you list an item, you are charged a small fee (the listing fee) which gets refunded if your item sells. If your item is sold, the auction house takes a cut of the final sale price so you’ll want to keep this in mind when deciding on your asking price. For the same-faction auction houses this is 5%, for the neutral auction houses it’s 15% (damn greedy goblins!)

Selling something is actually very simple; You drop the item you want to sell in to the window, enter the price you want to sell it for and hit the button to list it. Then you can sit back and wait for the gold to roll in. While this will often work, there is more to making gold off the auction house than most players realise. Armed with the correct knowledge, you can cash in on other peoples’ naivety and turn a profit in a number of ways.

Selling

The simplest way to make gold from the auction house is to look at what you have in your bags.

You will find that green or blue quality Bind on Equip items, while worthless to you, could be used by another player. Blue quality items can often sell for significant amounts of money, especially if they are considered “twink” items, for example Feet of the Lynx sell for upwards 300 gold on my server!

Raw materials like ore, herbs and leather are always in demand by people that are either to lazy to go out and gather them for themselves or simply don’t have the professions necessary to do so.

Before selling anything on the auction house you’ll want to check if anyone else is selling an item before you list yours. If they are, list your item for slightly less than theirs (we call this undercutting). You can undercut by as little as 1 copper and know that your item should sell before theirs does.

Reselling

Once you have a small pile of gold yourself, you can dabble with reselling. Looking again at something like those boots I mentioned above, if you see someone selling a pair cheap, say for a couple of gold, you can be fairly confident that you can buy them and relist them for more. The person you bought them from will be happy because they got what they thought they were worth and you’ll be happy because you got what you know they’re worth.

Reselling doesn’t come without it’s risks though. There’s nothing to stop someone else coming along and undercutting you to the point where they’re selling for less than you paid. In this situation, you have a few choices; If you’re confident that you can sell for the higher price, buyout their auction and relist that as well. If you’re less confident, you can always wait for theirs to sell and then list yours again. The worst case is that you’ve made a bad investment, sell yours at a loss and hope you do better next time.

Knowledge is Power

Throughout all of this the most important thing is market knowledge. If you have an idea what something sells for on a good day this will help you decide what to list for when there’s none currently for sale. Markets also tend to shift at different times of the week. For example during the weekends, when more people are playing, prices will be very different to mid-week, when less people are playing. Find out when the big guilds on your server raid, you might notice a spike in the price of consumables on these days. Check the cost of items you can go out and farm with minimal effort, on most servers enchanting materials from classic level 50-60 instances sell for really good money and can be farmed all day long by anyone.

Mastering The Market

Once you understand the basics of the Auction House, there are a number of ways that you can optimise both the time you spend buying & selling and the amount of gold you make. The first, most obvious trick is, rather than noting down average sale prices on scraps of paper, get an addon to do it for you. There’s any number of these available ranging from very simple to extremely complex.

One of the major players is Auctioneer. Personally, I find Auctioneer to be overly complicated with vast amounts of options and modules that most people will never use. It’s a massive addon taking up a solid 12MB of disk space and a lot of memory when running in-game. This may not sound much, but for players with more modest systems this will really affect your performance.

My weapon of choice is AuctionLite. It’s significantly more compact than Auctioneer (under 1.5MB) but still offers many of the core features. You get two extra tabs on the default auction house interface enabling you to search, buy and sell in bulk. It gives you fast scanning, to cache auction house prices for later use and then allows you to display this information on item tooltips giving you an idea of what an item is worth.