Flipping has been one of the most efficient ways of making gold in World of Warcraft for a long time. The basics are the same as always. Buy low, sell high. Today we will take a trip down memory lane for some of us looking at an old flipping market, why it worked, and how you can use it to identify markets where flipping is possible.
Why does flipping work?
This is actually a very good question to know the answer to. In general you would not expect people to be willing to sell their items far below market or to buy their items far above. Despite this there are consistent opportunities in the game that allow you to resell items for 20%+++ profit margins.
Your greatest friend is as always other people’s laziness. Players who are infrequent users of the auction house will likely care more about getting gold fast than getting a lot of gold. And on the flip side players will care more about getting what they need than slightly overpaying for it. This also depends on the price of the item you want to flip. You want the price to show significant variations over time.
In addition to this you want items where the value is either hard to gauge or where the reason someone would want the item is not evident to the average player.
Causes of price variations
price variations in World of Warcraft are caused by two things: Variations in demand and variations in supply. Variations in supply can be caused by lots of things. One example is the felblight from Warlords of Draenor. The primary source of this was Kazzak kills and he reset once a week. Supply would spike up on reset day as everyone killed him and wanted to sell and then fall of through the week.
Variations in demand is more obvious. For flipping 101 BoEs for example you might not sell any for a couple of days before suddenly someone is out gearing a new twink and you sell 4 items of the same armour type within 10 minutes.
To sum up, if either the uses or the supply of an item or group of items is characterized by large spikes, then you can usually flip it profitably.
An example: Flipping 77-79 and 84-85 greens
Before patch 6.0.3 the item levels of items you could get dramatically increased between the expansions. Greens from Cata zones were an order of magnitude better than gear from Wrath of the Lich King zones. Cata zones could drop items with level requirements down to 77. If you bought these on a 77 character you were leveling you started one-shotting Northrend mobs. The powerspike was large and well worth it. The same held true for the 84-85 bracket from Cata to Mists.
Throughout Mists these two items categories were widely known as one of the best flipping markets in the game. I remember religiously reading Power Word: Gold to learn the ins and outs .
How did it work?
The normal approach I used was to buy the greens below 75 gold using auctioneer searches. I would then repost them with a normal price in TSM of about 300-400 gold.
Volume was great and I actually dominated the market on my realm to such a degree that whenever I changed my normal price settings the market price changed within 2-3 days.
Why did this work?
This market was perfect for flipping. Demand was very spiky. People buying these would buy mor than one at the time. If you were stocking items for a lot of slots then you would get sales.
Supply was also highly variable. Items would show up on the AH whenever people got drops and tried selling them. The majority of players did not realize the value of these items and you could always find more deals.
In addition you had laziness working for you on both ends. People selling these usually didn’t realize they were valuable and would happily sell them cheaply. On the other side the flip prices were still low enough that you had no problem moving product, people would pay up with no questions asked.
What did I learn in this market?
I learned several lessons during my time in this market in Mists of Pandaria. The most important one is that the price level influences your sales. If my inventory started increasing I would reduce my normal price. This would drive the prices down and I would usually sell more stock. Then I adjusted it up again If I started running out. The method was very inventory intensive and I used 4 different groups I moved around in guild banks to stock the AH.
People are more price sensitive in luxury markets like alt gearing and mounts, so you should keep that in mind. I utilize this to use larger undercuts than 1c for all of my luxury items.
Identifying flipping markets and some more examples
I’m going to include a couple more examples of old and current expansion flipping markets here and a small note on why they worked well.
Medallion of the Legion: Demand was very spiky as people buying this wanted to speed through the WoD flying achievement. Supply was also irregular and based on Garrison resources.
Elixir of the Rapid Mind: Demand for these was very strong and this was an “I want it now” item. Supply was irregular and based on Garrison missions.
Legion BoEs, “sell now” mentality for the majority of players. Irregular supply. Extremely spiky demand, people buying one will buy more to gear a full character. Price is hard to gauge unless you have TSM.
Legion Materials: Spiky demand caused by people buying for crafting sessions. Supply is spiky and you can have periods of over supply when large scale farmers post a lot of stock.
Identifying flipping markets
Hopefully this should give you some ideas on what you want to look for when identifying items that can be good for flipping. The main characteristics you are looking for can be summed up:
- Uneven demand
- Uneven supply
- Hard to gauge the true value of items
- Large differences in relative value between buyers and sellers
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