Below is a reader question I received about potential slowing of their flipping markets after their return from a break in playing.
I decided to ask them permission to use their questions and my answers as a blog post because I think it not only addresses general uncertainties that many people have when doing flipping markets but also offers some good advice for those in the 77-79 and 83-84 flipping markets who may feel their markets are shifting of somehow slowing.
Read on past the jump to see their questions and my responses.
"I've been a sort of silent follower of yours for quite a while now, probably over a year. When you first started preaching (I suppose) the success of your 77-80 cataclysm green market I jumped on board, while I wasn't having quite as much success as yourself as I think my server pop might be somewhere between medium and low I was making good gold, more than I was in my other endeavors.
I took a bit of a break, unintentionally, I sort of just stopped playing, upon returning maybe, 4 or 5 months ago, I continued with the 77-80 green market, and also started buying and flipped 83-84 MoP greens, and the Uber Blues you've also found success with.
The inherent inflation that comes with each expansion meant I was making more gold with relatively similar sales, however in the last 4 weeks of so I have noticed almost a complete crash in these markets over the board (MoP and Cata greens, and also Uber Blues) to the point where I'm lucky to sell a handful of these items a week now.
So, my question is, what's changed? Is it my server population that was just unable buy the amount of stock that I had accumulated leading to dotted sales here and there, or is it a change in the Alt character meta-game so to speak and people just don't want to buy these items anymore, are there better ways people are gearing there leveling alts?
I used similar pricing structures per your suggestions (295g for all cata greens, 685g for all MoP greens, and 1250g for all MoP Blues) I lowered the price structure of my Uber Blues because I couldnt see my server approving of upwards of 2000g for these items. It should be noted that I only sell armor inside this market and have steered clear of weapons because I don't feel confident enough to purchase weapons other classes actually need.
Thanks Jim, I hope you can shed some light on the current state of this market in relation to the server I am on, I'm seriously considering server swapping, and your guide on doing this is very helpful."
"My guess is that you have some new competition. I've seen sales increase on my server.
Search for some of your items in the default AH interface and make note of anyone else selling similar items at similar (high) prices as yourself.
Search for a few of those players on theunderminejournal.com and look at the other items they are selling.
If they are selling many of the same items as you you may have new competition.
You can also do this by searching in the default AH interface for a specific level range (77-77 for example) and sorting the auctions by seller.
I think that the lowering of XP from 85-90 that is coming in 5.3 is spurring some players to level their characters to 85 in preparation.
Another thing that may be slowing your sales is that there may be a lot of cheap items that have built up on your server since you've been gone.
People may simply be buying these and not yours. If that's the case I would recommend searching and buying the items (cheap as usual, 45g and less for example) and storing and/or vendoring items that you have three copies of.
This will clear out the market and allow your items to sell. Also you'll need to maintain the market by buying these items on a regular basis.
Even if new competition or cheap items isn't the reason that you aren't getting sales don't stop selling these items.
Like I mentioned above in 5.3 there will be a lot of people looking to level and your 83-84 MoP items could see a large spike in sales.
Either way hold the course and just work your way back into the markets. I don't like to make any rash decisions until I've given any new situation or change in the market at least three weeks. In three weeks what seems like a trend can turn out to be only a minor blip.
Sometimes we sell less. Sometimes we sell more.
In the 77-79 and 83-84 market sales come in fits and starts. Some days we sell 3 items to three different people and some days we sell 10 items to one person.
Good luck and let me know how it turns out."
I received the following response.
"After a quick look, I don't appear to have any solid competition, its just a few different people here and there just selling what I imagine they have looted, and they undercut me, which doesn't bother me with 1 or 2 items here and there. I should also note that I have a pretty strong grip on the market, I would say for all 3 markets I would have anywhere from 70% to maybe 90% of the stock which leads me to believe that maybe the server population is just dropping off, or perhaps in the current state of the game most players are gearing up for raid content on main characters, the latter sounds more realistic I think.
Your point on maybe cheaper items, namely the armour vendors found in The Jade Forest, just beating me out by convenience, or price is interesting and I'm not sure if there is anything I can do about that short term.
I'll keep persevering with the market because history shows they are solid.
One last thing, what are your thoughts on maybe transferring to a higher population server, would this be counter-productive? As I already have a firm grip on the market here?"
Follow Up Response
To which I replied.
"High population generally equals high competition and cut-throat undercutting (but also more customers).
Send a level one, cage and sell a few battle pets in trade and try the markets before deciding to move there.
I wrote a recent post on looking for a server (See Transferring? How To Choose A New Server For Gold-Making).
That said, unless your server is an absolute ghost town I still doubt it's the server.
You're living there and not me so you likely know better."
Here we have a player coming back into the game after an extended absence and noticing that the markets seem to have slowed dramatically.
The saying goes "You can never step in the same river twice". Even if you're not present the markets will continue to change and evolve as time goes on.
We're always at different phases of an expansion. We're always at a different parts of a patch cycle. New raids, new content even new mechanic changes (such as lower 85-90 level XP requirements coming in 5.3) can have an effect on the way a market will behave at any given time.
In the case of our reader above I think that they will see sales increase as they work their way back into the markets.
In many markets, but especially in the flipping markets, it takes active sellers selling these items on a consistent basis to acclimatize the buying population of that server that it is OK (and expected) to buy the flipping items for your prices.
In my case I don't feel I'm gouging the players on my server. I am reminded every time that I make a sale that I am offering an item at a price that is reasonable and the player base seems to agree with me. If they didn't agree then they wouldn't purchase my items.
If you feel your market has changed give it some time before you make any major changes. In my experience steering markets is a job best done in small increments over an extended period of time.
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