As promised, here’s something to keep your whistles wet. I don’t normally write on weekends, but since I don’t see myself needing more than one non-hunter post a week, weekends are when I have room for gold making. Arbitrage is the act of helping goods flow from one market to another, ideally taking advantage of price differences. This used to be much easier on PvE realms than PvP realms because you were not allowed to have an alt on the opposite faction with a PvP realm, but since this has recently changed, this advice concerns all my readers.
Here’s the thing- this is dirt easy, and annoying enough that you can make lots of money if you keep at it while others get burned and drop out.
Now, in principle, you can do this with very few tools. The one I’ll introduce here, however, is the “AHSearch“addon. This allows you to save and categorize auction house searches. I have a category for all the markets I’m interested in, and this saved me the trouble of typing out what I want info on every time. Combine this tool with an auction alt on both factions, and a friend or a second account (because you can’t buy your own auctions) and you have all the info you need. Now, the goal here is to buy something on one side (hereafter called the “buy side”), transfer it to the other side (hereafter called the “sell side”), and resell it for a profit.
Lets talk first about choosing your product. You have a bunch of things to consider when you choose what to move-
- The price difference on both factions is obviously very important as that’s what your profits will be based on.
- Liquidity: how fast you can sell something. If you choose to buy something that’s almost never purchased on the other side, you can end up holding onto stock for a long time. If there’s enough profits, this can be ok, but you have to be able to afford it.
- Deposit fee: the more something costs to auction, the more money you need to invest up front, and the more you lose if your items go unsold.
- Granularity: if you are moving a brand new BoE epic, you are putting a lot of your eggs into one basket compared to moving something like ore. If something goes wrong (see next section), you’re up the creek without a paddle.
Where should you start? I’d personally suggest you look at products you’re familiar with already- whether you buy them a lot, farm and sell them a lot, just so long as you know enough about them to figure out how fast you can sell them, and for how much. I’d also recommend looking at northrend ore, herbs, eternals, leather, enchanting mats, and cloth. These are all very liquid markets. Everyone and their cousin are already doing minipets and faction specific stuff- don’t bother. You’re not looking for people who shop for achievement fodder in gadgetzan, you want to take the fact that horde farmers are selling saronite ore for half the price that alliance farmers are.
Now, how do you transfer goods from one faction to another? You need a friend or a second account. Essentially, you post your stuff for sale on the buy side, and then have your friend pick it up on the sell side, ideally coordinating over vent or something. Now you have a choice here- you can post your items for very small amounts of money and pay almost nothing to the neutral AH, or you can post it for what it’s worth, give your friend the money to buy it, and pay the neutral auction house cut of 15% (compared to 5% on the faction AH). This means no matter what, you pay 15% of your transfer price, however there’s no risk of poachers.
Poachers? Huh? Well, basically these are people that park an alt with a couple of gold in front of a neutral AH, and try to buy stuff for less than it’s worth. If you elect to list your stuff for 1c each in stacks of 20 and this poacher is faster than your friend, you will be giving him free stuff. I am a fairly conservative guy, and I hate financial risk. What do I do?
Here’s an important calculation most people never think of. In order for you to lose money while risking poachers, they have to be able to steal 15% of your stock. If you can mitigate your risk and over the long term, lose less than 15% to them, you’ve come out ahead. Let’s go over how to mitigate your risk.
First, use auctioneer. Have your buddy use it too. Set up the options so you can buy out an auction by right clicking on it with no confirmation box. This will give you an edge against stupid poachers. The smart ones, however also do this. Trick number two: put up a “canary auction”. Post quantity one of whatever you’re moving, say cobalt ore, at 1c buyout, and watch out for that to disappear. If it does, you know there’s someone trying to get your stock, and you can stop, log off, and come back later. Also, this benefits you because poachers who use illegal programs to buy cheap good way faster than a player can will always pick up these canary items, and warn you of their presence. Post a few more of those randomly once you see them being bought, and start a ticket for a GM- if it’s clear that they’re botting, the next time you try this, they may have been banned.
The other thing you can do about automatic buying bots- post your stuff at a low price, but still above their minimum threshold. You pay less neutral AH fees, and aren’t offering a deal good enough for a poacher to pick up.
Now that you know how to pick stock and move it cheaply, the only thing left is to sell it on the sell side market, and spend your profits!
Next guide (sometime this week) will be on how to properly set up a production value chain (like leather -> greens -> enchanting mats -> enchanting scrolls).