|This article is only a guide. Information expressed in a guide is usually more opinion than fact and should be taken as such. Guides are written by players, based upon their experiences, successes and mistakes, and meant to aid other players. However, there may be differing opinions than those expressed in a guide. |
Strategies and information in guides may not work for everyone.
Obtaining gil and spending it wisely is an important part of the game. It's true that most people would rather be out there fighting monsters than researching prices. But as nice as it would be to save everything you get until you need it, the game's limits on inventory make this impractical. So it's usually better to sell anything you don't need right away and buy it later when you are ready to use it. Also there are many items that are very difficult to obtain except from other players. In effect, the game requires you be part small business owner so you better learn how to deal with the marketplace.
This is intended as a strategy guide, see Auction House for a guide to how the auction house works.
Some of these strategies may not be for everyone; as mentioned above there are more exciting things to do in the game. But knowing what they are you can pick and choose which ones are right for your style of game play and the situation at hand.
The first thing to do with any item is research. For selling, you should have an idea what the Resale Price is. For buying, you should know if the item is available at NPC shops and how item can be obtained other than through the Auction House. Web sites like Gamer Escape's FFXI Wiki are a good resource for this type of information.
Whether buying or selling, it's good to get prices for the item at all the auction house systems when practical. But prices vary between servers and over time so it would be nearly impossible to keep this information up to date on a web site and you'll have to check these prices yourself. You may want to keep notes for some items so you don't have to start from scratch each time. Information you can get online is helpful though, for example the fact that rusty buckets are used in a quest in Bastok means that it's probably the best place to sell them. Because of Jeuno's high fees and inaccessibility to low level players, it's probably not worth getting Jeuno prices for low level or low cost items. Finally, having mules stationed in several cities can make information gathering much faster.
One thing to keep in mind is that you can't assume that prices make economic sense. For example people often buy low level armor for twice what they could get it for at an NPC shop 100 yards down the street. Or people buy a single item for 500g when could get a stack of 12 for 1000g. Many times this is because most people don't shop around for the best price, but sometimes the quirks in the auction house system can produce this kind of counterintuitive situation.
The way the auction house works makes strategy much easier for buying than selling. However, it helps to be familiar with selling strategies when buying because some of them have easy counter strategies.
You already know what the going price is for the item; always start with a bid that is less than this. If you have a lot of patience then start with 10% of the going price and work your way up in 10% increments. If you have somewhat less patience then start at 80% of the going price. If you are familiar with selling strategies then adjust your opening bid according to what you think they might be. Remember that bidding is free and there is a possibility of saving a lot of gil by starting with a low bid.
If your opening bid fails then increase your bid and try again until you either obtain the item or the price becomes more that you're willing to pay or more than you can get the item for from a different source.
When buying stackable items in bulk, don't forget to check the singles prices. For example, if you're buying stacks of bat wings at 3000g per stack then it makes sense to buy all the singles you can at 100g each.
When buying large quantities of an item, spread out your buying so you don't cause a shortage and drive up the price. This kind of thing happens most often with crafting materials, consider alternating your crafting with other activities so you don't cause a price surge and pay more than you have to for materials. Watch out for when someone else is buying too much and causing a shortage as well. You can usually tell this is happening in the history window because the same name appears over and over in the To column and the price goes up steadily. If this is happening, consider postponing your purchase until the price has fallen back to normal levels again.
Occasionally there is an item you want to buy which isn't for sale at any auction house. This is a consequence of how the auction house system is designed; no matter how much you are willing to pay for an item, you can't buy it until someone puts it up for sale. No one will put the item up for sale if the price history leads them to believe that they can't do it at a profit. This is a tricky problem and may require a creative solution. For example if the item can be crafted, but only at a high level, see if there is a person with high enough level skill in the craft in your link shell. If so then buy the required materials and ask the other ls member to synthesize the item.
The way the auction house works makes strategy more difficult and risky for selling, so most of this guide will be devoted to selling strategies.
First, although it is somewhat rare, some items can be sold for a higher price to NPC's than to the auction house. Even at the same price it's preferable to sell to an NPC because the sale happens right away, while at the AH you have to wait and hope someone buys the item.
Second, keep in mind that the number of AH slots you have is limited, so try to use them wisely. Don't waste them on trying to sell items that won't yield much return. More on this later.
Now, before you can decide on an asking price there is one more thing you need to find out. Suppose there are 25 of an item up for sale but from the history window you can see from the sales history window that only 5 are selling per day on average. Items are returned after 3 days so at most 15 are going to sell and the rest are going to be returned. This is a case of a surplus of the item, more people want to sell than buy. On the other hand if the items seems to be selling fairly well according to the price history, but there are none currently for sale, it's likely that more people are trying to buy than sell. This is a shortage of the item.
In general it's a good idea to compare the number of items for sale with how many you think will sell in three days to determine the surplus vs. shortage status of the item. If there are more items for sale then there is a surplus condition and if there are no items for sale there is probably a shortage condition. In between is a gray area, possibly surplus or shortage or neither.
Start with the going price for the item. If there is a surplus of the item then lower this somewhat depending on how severe the surplus is. For example if the number of item for sale is equal to the number that will sell in 3 days then you might lower the price by 10%, but if the number for sale is twice as much then you might lower the price by 30%. The exact amount you lower the price is a matter of judgment and style but remember that the item with the lowest asking price gets sold first.
If there is a shortage of the item then you may want to raise the price but be more careful here. If you raise the price much higher than a buyer is willing to pay then he or she may decide to buy somewhere else or buy later (see the buying section). A 10% increase will be about right in most cases but again this is a matter of judgment and style.
The price you now have should be about right, but it's probably also a nice round number and that's bad. Let's say to going price is 1000g and there is no shortage or surplus so you set your price at 1000g. Meanwhile 5 other people are selling the item for 1000g as well. With all the prices the same the AH sells the items in the order received, In other words you have to wait in line. But now suppose you set your price to 999g. Since you have the lowest asking price, even though it's by 1g, your items jumps to the head of the line and will sell first. The most you would lose is 1g and that's only if a buyer bids 999g instead of 1000g, which rarely happens. Of course one of the other people selling the item anticipates your price of 999g, he or she might set an asking price of 998g, and so on. The upshot of this is that you should be slightly unpredictable in the asking price. So whatever price you arrived at, lower it slightly so it's not a round number. Exactly how much you lower the price has to be something you come up with on your on, if everyone used the same amount it would be predictable, which would defeat the purpose.
Another strategy that appears in some guides is to set your asking price to 1g. In the previous section you and some other players were trying to undersell each other by lowering the asking price by 1 gil. If this is taken to its ultimate conclusion you get an asking price of 1 gil, virtually guaranteeing that the next item sold will be yours. Most people bid the going price so chances are you won't get any less gil when you ask 1g than when you ask 1000g.
The problem with this strategy is that there are a few savvy buyers out there who know that they should start with a low opening bid. (There may even be some buyers that have read this guide.) No matter how low this player's opening bid is, if your asking price is 1g then he or she will get your item for that opening bid. Your item will probably be moved to the front of the line just by lowering your asking price by a few gil, so lowering you price more than that has little advantage and creates a risk that you will get less for your item than you were hoping for.
In any case, it's not a good idea to set an asking price below the price you can sell the item for to an NPC. This creates an opportunity for another player to make a few quick gil which should have been yours.
Let's say your about to put an item up for sale in San d'Oria for about 1000g. Before you do, ask yourself how much would you be willing to pay for the same item. Let's say you're pretty sure you can sell the item in Bastok for 600g. Allowing yourself a fair markup of 200g, it's reasonable to take 400g as the amount that you would be willing to pay for the item. Now suppose another player has already put the item up for sale in San d'Oria for 400g. That player's item will sell before yours does, in fact your item may be returned because of it. So why not steal their thunder by putting in a bid for 400g before you sell? If there are no items for sale at that price then no harm is done. If there are items for sale at 400g then you've made a profit of 200g when you sell the item in Bastok and you can still sell your original item in San d'Oria for 1000g. There is a small problem in that your purchase for 400g shows up in the price history leading people to lower their estimate of the going price. If there is a surplus in the item then the price was probably going to fall anyway and you just happened to be the one to start it. If not then the price should stabilize itself at 1000g again and you can go ahead and sell.
In general, before selling you might consider putting in a low bid for the item to remove any that have an asking price that is too low. Even if you have no use for the item, put in a bid that allows you to make a few quick gil by selling it to a nearby NPC.
When you have more than one of a non-stackable item to sell, avoid selling them at the same time. When you are selling, you are in effect competing for the lowest price with everyone else who is trying to sell the item. When you have more than one of the same item up for sale at the same time you are competing against yourself as well. If you have run out of things to sell and have AH slots still open then you might sell more of an item up sale, if only to avoid wasting an AH slot.
Never put more items up for sale than will sell in 3 days, the leftovers will just be returned and this is a waste of time and money. It also creates a surplus in the item which will tend to lower the price. If you're synthing these items to skill up a craft, consider holding off for a while until you can sell your excess inventory.
In general, it is easier and more convenient to sell items by the stack instead of singles. For this reason, the per unit price of a stack is usually slightly less for a stack than for singles. There are many exceptions to this though and it's always worth while to check the singles and stack price before selling. If the single price is less than the per unit stack price and you have less than a full stack, consider topping off the stack with singles bought at the lower price.
On the other hand the singles price might be much higher than the per unit stack price. You might be tempted to split up a stack and sell the items as singles but this is rarely a good idea. First, you now have 12 items to sell instead of 1, it will take 12 times as long to sell all of them. Second, a disproportionate price usually indicates that the items aren't selling well enough for the price to find it's natural level. So instead of taking 12 times as long to sell as singles it may take 100 times as long.
Just as there are some items that are difficult to buy at the AH, there are items that are difficult to sell as well, even though they are too valuable to simply sell to an NPC. A example might be a sword that can be bought at an NPC shop for 5000g and for some reason the going price at the AH is 10000g. Experienced players looking at the 10000g in the price history see that it is over priced and go to the NPC shop. Rarely, a naive player buys the sword from the AH at the 10000g price, perpetuating that price at the AH. Meanwhile, you have the sword and are willing to let it go for 4000g. The problem is that even if you put the sword up for sale at 4000g, no one can see that price and the experienced players will still be turned off and go to the NPC shop. The best you can hope for is that an inexperienced player will come along and pay more than you're asking, but this may take longer than you are willing to wait. One possibility in this situation is to try to 'advertise' your 4000g offer by putting it up for sale for 1g and buying from yourself for 4000g. This will at least put the 4000g in the price history, whether other players will get the messages is a different question. Again. this can be a tricky problem and may require a creative solution.