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Auction House

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The Auction House is notorious for being ridiculously overpriced at times and at others being a really handy tool to get great items.

The Auction House (abbreviated as AH) is a wonderful place to find what you need or even make some money for yourself. You can find or sell weapons, armor, trade goods, recipes and reagents. Each faction has its own Auction House system, and the two factions share the Auction House system ran by the Steamwheedle Cartel in neutral territory. Auction House fees and deposit costs are also one of the largest money-sinks in the game. Each capital city has its own Auction House. All physical Auction Houses of the same faction are linked. Players with trial accounts can see the items listed for an auction but cannot buy or sell through the Auction Houses.

In the interests of clearly defining where auction house items are coming from in the mail, the faction Auction Houses systems are identified by "<Alliance/Horde> Auction House" and the Steamwheedle Cartel Auction House system is identified as "Blackwater Auction House" (so perhaps it might be the Blackwater Raiders that are running the system on behalf of the Cartel).

Contents

Locations

HordeHorde

AllianceAlliance

NeutralNeutral

Characters on the same account cannot bid on items put up for auction on any Auction House by a different character on the same account, even if the characters are of different factions (Alliance or Horde) using a neutral Auction House.

Blizzard does not prohibit "giving away" items to friends on opposite factions by putting an item on the neutral auction house with a buyout fee of 1 copper, and expecting their intended recipient to buyout on it quickly. However, anyone is entitled to buyout the item at that price, and even if someone is not the intended recipient of that item, "stealing" it is not punishable by GMs.

Auction system UI

Finding items

By right-clicking on the auctioneer NPC, a dialog box is opened where one can interface with the auction system at the default Search screen.

If you know the name of what you wish to find, simply enter all or part of it in the Name field, and click the Search button on the upper right, and the UI will return all the items that match the string you entered. Otherwise, you can search by category: on the left, there are some blue buttons that are preset to search specific categories of items. Click on the category of item you wish the find (i.e., weapon, armor, spell, recipe, etc.). Some category items will then display sub-categories. After choosing the category and sub-category, if applicable, click Search. A listing of the items you requested, if there are any available in that category, will be displayed in the right pane of the dialog.

Browsing for a new leather helmet.

Bids

A bid is the amount of money a player sets aside in escrow to attempt to buy an item put up for auction at an Auction House. You bid on an item at the auction by clicking the item after doing a search. This will put the initial bid amount or the default next highest bid amount in the entry areas at the bottom of the screen ([   ]Gold.png [   ]Silver.png [   ]Copper.png). Enter a new amount you would like to bid or leave the default amount and click the Bid button. The amount of your bid is then removed from your character's available cash and placed in escrow until the auction is over.

A buyout price is an optional price set for an item up for auction that will over-ride any other existing bids and immediately buy the item. You can click the Buyout button after selecting the item and the amount will be immediately removed from your available cash and the item will be mailed to you. A confirmation alert will appear before your buyout is accepted.

If your bid wins, the item is mailed to you through the in-game mail system. If you are outbid or the auction is canceled, your bid that was previously placed in escrow is mailed to you instead.

Checking bid status

This lucky auctioneer is still the Highest Bidder on all his bids.

After you enter the auction system and make some bids, you can click the second Bid tab at the bottom to see the status of your bids. You will see the following for each item you've bid on:

  • Item icon (including quantity) and name.
  • Required level to use item.
  • Time left on auction (short, medium, long, or very long).
  • Buyout Price.
  • Whether your bid is the Highest Bid, you have been Outbid, or the Auction Cancelled.
  • The current bid.

Auction lengths

  • Short - Less than 30 minutes.
  • Medium - Between 30 minutes and 2 hours.
  • Long - Between 2 hours and 12 hours.
  • Very Long - Between 12 hours and 48 hours.

If an item receives a large number of bids in a short amount of time, the duration on that item will be automatically increased by the AH (e.g., a Short length will be changed to Medium, and a Medium to Long). It appears that the change in length is to the minimum amount for that length, not the maximum. I.e., a change from Medium to Long changes the length to 2 hours, not 12.

Creating auctions

In the process of selling a batch of Rum. Notice how you can shift between setting a price per item and per stack.

To sell items at the AH, select the rightmost Auction tab at the bottom of the screen. When the auction pane comes up, drag an item from your inventory to the Auction Item slot on the upper left. Enter the price at which you want bidding to start ([   ]Gold.png [   ]Silver.png [   ]Copper.png), and the Auction Duration (12, 24, or 48 hours). It is often a good idea to set a buyout price. These amounts may be the same, or different, as is the player's wish, but the buyout price cannot be lower than the minimum bid price. The bid suggested when you place an item up for auction is 150% of the vendor sell price (VSP). The minimum starting bid is 1 copper. Items with no sell value will suggest a bid of 1 silver.

To the right of where you create your auctions, there is a list of your current items up for auction and their status. You will see the following for each item you've auctioned: item name, time left on auction (short, medium, long or very long), and the current bid. You can cancel any auction by clicking it and clicking the Cancel Auction button at the bottom of the screen. However, you will lose the deposit that you paid when first placing the item up for auction.

It is possible to enter the bid amount and buyout price per stack or per individual item, as well as designate the stack size and how may stacks you wish to sell. This makes creating auctions simpler, as it allows you to create multiple auctions at once, but it has led to the auction house being flooded with single stack items. This could be beneficial to the seller, as it means that people can buy the exact amount of an item that they want, but it may also mean that people who sell in single stacks lose money, as many people will want to buy items in relatively large stacks (see Auction House tips).

Deposits

Deposit value percentages of VSP
Auction length Faction houses Goblin houses
12 hours 15% 75%
24 hours 30% 150%
48 hours 60% 300%

The deposit fee, or listing fee, is the certain amount of money needed to place an item up for auction that depends on the item's vendor sell price (VSP) and the amount of time you want to put the item up for auction. The deposit is paid immediately when you list the item. For the longer auctions, the base deposit value is rounded and then scaled equal to the scale of the time change. If calculated deposit fee is fewer than 1s (including case, when item has no vendor sell price, VSP=0), then final deposit fee will be 1s. Low-level fishes and enchanting reagents are common examples of such goods.

Fees

When you successfully sell an item on the auction house, the house will take a percentage of the winning bid as its cut. In the faction houses, the cut is 5% of the winning bid, and in the neutral houses the cut is 15% of the winning bid. The amount of money you will receive by mail will be the winning bid, minus the cut, plus the return of your deposit:

Amount Received = Winning Bid - Cut + Deposit
  (in Faction AH) = Winning Bid*(0.95) + Deposit
  (in Neutral AH) = Winning Bid*(0.85) + Deposit

When an item fails to sell, you will receive the item in the mail, but your deposit will not be refunded. When you cancel an auction that has no bids placed on it, you simply lose your deposit, and the item is returned to you by mail. When you cancel an auction that has a bid in place, you will lose your deposit. You will also be charged a fee equal to the house cut of the current bid.

Tips

  • It is best to look up similar items before putting your item(s) up for auction. This gives you a view of supply and demand for items like yours. You can then make a more informed decision about whether to even put your item(s) up for auction, now or later, and how much to price the item for. As much as you may hate losing the extra money, sometimes it is simply more expedient and efficient to sell some items to a merchant NPC than to bother with the auction.
  • Some customers prefer to buy complete stacks of cheap trade items (20 for most items). On the other hand, if the item is expensive, and is only used in a few recipes, and only a few are needed, selling in small lots may work better. Try to sell in a quantity that is useful to the customer. If the common recipe uses four, selling in stacks of four could work well.
  • Quest completion items sell in the quantity the quest needs or less. One is a good stack size, because it lets the buyers select as many as they need and not buy excess. To the buyer, excess items are increased cost —- and a higher individual price is often cheaper.
  • For some low-cost items, you can avoid a deposit fee by adjusting the stack size low enough. This works for low-end food items, which sell slowly, and would be unprofitable with a deposit fee.
  • Set a buyout price. You will usually get a better price, and sell more often and more quickly. This is true for most items, but especially with trade goods and consumables, where people are often in a want-it-now situation. Most people do not want to wait for 8+ hours until they get their 20 light leather; they tend to buy out auctions instead of bidding and waiting. Above rules for reasonable pricing still apply.
  • Get a sense of your realm's economy. If you see an item selling for substantially less than it normally does, you could buy it out and sell it for a profit!
  • Beware of people setting ridiculously high prices. This is done on many items. If the item is a weapon or piece of armor, look at similar pieces. This can help you determine a fair price.
  • There are people that set a buyout to 99g when 99s is the reasonable price. They hope to trick buyers into not noticing the difference. Of course, they could also have made a mistake when entering prices.
  • Be careful when you are buying out large amounts of items (i.e., trade goods), and make sure you are not paying full-stack price for a stack that is not full.
  • Since more people play on the weekends, weekend prices tend to be different from the weekdays' (Mon-Fri). High-demand items will tend to be priced higher during the weekend and lower during the week. Items that crafters make to skill up can flood the market with much seller competition and low prices over the weekend and much lower supply and higher prices during the week. Use these fluctuations to your advantage.
  • Auctions will still count down during realm downtime, so you may be less likely to be outbid if bidding right before the server shuts down for extended maintenance. Of course, many others will have the same idea. This also means it may be wiser to wait until after an extended downtime to set up an auction.
  • All in all, the auctions are a convenient means of getting rid of excess inventory one might not be able use due to level or class restrictions, or products that one makes using their professions.
  • Auctions are also a great tool for finding items one might need. These items can get expensive, so be prepared when locating and pricing items at auctions. Prices also reflect, as well as directly influence, the inflation ratio of the economy.

Don't lower your starting bid below 70% of the suggested amount. (70% in a factioned auction house, 79% in the neutral house.) Otherwise you risk getting less money for an item than a normal merchant would give you.

Starting bid   = 1.5  * MSV, 
70% of that   = 1.05  * MSV,
Minus the 5% cut = 0.9975 * MSV

Sometimes you can unstack items to get free auctions. For example, say you are selling fish with an MSV of 4cp. The base deposit on 1 fish is 0. (0.05 * 4cp < 1cp) But the base deposit on 20 fish is 4cp. (0.05 * 80cp = 4cp). Since longer deposits are multiples of the already rounded base deposit, you can list single fish for any length of time with no deposit. This is particularly handy when your fish is worth considerably more than its MSV to other players.

It may be advantageous to buy out your own auction (using an Alt on another account) rather than canceling the auction and paying the penalties. For example:

Selling an item with MSV = 1g, starting bid of 2g, buyout of 5g.
Set as 48-hour auction, so deposit = 60% of MSV = 60s.
Someone bids 2g, but it doesn't look like you'll get the 5g you want.
If you cancel the auction, you lose the deposit (60s) and the cut (5% of 2g). Loss = 70s.
If you buyout the auction with an Alt, you only lose the buyout cut (5% of 5g). Loss = 25s. 

See also

Patch changes

  • Cataclysm Patch 4.0.3a (2010-11-23): Auction Houses are now available in Shattrath City, and the Dalaran auctioneers (which were previously engineer-only) are now available to everyone.
  • WotLK Patch 3.2.0 (2009-08-04): Auctioneers added in Dalaran, which can be accessed by Grand Master engineers only.
  • TBC Patch 2.2.0 (2007-09-25): Auction House generated emails for successful auction sales now have a one-hour delay.
  • TBC Patch 2.0.1 (2006-12-05): Alliance Exodar and Horde Silvermoon City Auction Houses added.
  • WoW Icon 16x16.png Patch 1.9.0 (2006-01-03):
    • Players will now be able to buy and sell goods with greater effectiveness using the Linked Auction House system. Auction Houses in Orgrimmar, Undercity, and Thunder Bluff will now share the same pool of Horde player-created auctions, and Alliance players will find the same to be true when visiting Ironforge, Stormwind City, and Darnassus Auction Houses. This system has been expanded to support the neutral Auction Houses as well. Tanaris, Everlook, and Booty Bay will all be linked for players of both factions to access.
    • Player now receives a statement with the payment which shows the winning bid, house cut, and returned deposit listed.
  • WoW Icon 16x16.png Patch 1.8.0 (2005-10-10):
    • You can now search for random suffixes such as "of the Monkey" in the Auction House.
    • When you place an auction up on the Auction House, the auctions tab now displays your minimum bid and buyout price even if there are no bids on the item.
  • WoW Icon 16x16.png Patch 1.7.0 (2005-09-22): Dressing room function now available at the Auction House. Rethban Ore, Black Diamonds, and Pristine Black Diamonds may now be found in the Miscellaneous Junk category of the Auction House.
While not noted in patch notes, these items have long since been returned to the Quest category.
  • WoW Icon 16x16.png Patch 1.6.0 (2005-07-12): Librams are now considered to be Books when searching for these items in the Auction House.
  • WoW Icon 16x16.png Patch 1.5.0 (2005-06-07): Players can no longer auction an item that they've just disenchanted.
  • WoW Icon 16x16.png Patch 1.4.0 (2005-05-05):
    • Recipes you already know will not show up in the auction listing if "Usable Items" is checked.
    • Fixed sorting items in the auction house by current bid.
  • WoW Icon 16x16.png Patch 1.3.0 (2005-03-07):
    • Fixed bug with incorrect minimum bid display when outbid while monitoring your auctions at the auction house.
    • The auction interface now displays the gold, silver, and copper values for all items, even if those values are zero. This should make it more difficult to "hide" an item that costs several gold among items that only cost several silver, for example.

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