Guide to Farming the Auction House

Diablo 3 Guide to Farming the Auction House (500k+ per hour) submitted by REInvestor.

13 Million Gold Screenshot
Hi there. I'm REInvestor and I'd like to teach you the basics of how to profitably farm the AH. I don't use macros, I'm not a hacker, and I'm not especially smart.

I basically just have too much free time. If I can do this, so can you. This is a bit of read, but in it, I share just about everything I know about how to make money on the auction house.

There are many strategies for profitably arbitraging the AH, but I am going to teach you my primary technique which has allowed me to earn an absurd amount with very minimal effort.

I started with 250k on the night of 5/28 and I now have 13m + 5m in auctions/inventory plus I've geared up a bit.

I have not kept detailed track of the hours because you don't really need be going all the time. I'm not sure how many hours I've spent doing this, but I would estimate it at about 20.

How Much Time Does This Take?

Unlike farming in-game, you don't need to be actively in the game to make a lot of money at this. I am on the internet or using the computer for other stuff and then occasionally alt-tabbing back into the game to check on things. Here's a rough estimate of the time I spend:

  • 5-10 minutes picking up inventory
  • 5-10 minutes pricing/listing the inventory
  • 5-10 minutes over the course of the next two hours alt-tabbing back into D3 to check the auctions and list new items

Over those two hours, I can expect to net typically 250-750k. Not bad right?

Now, having said that, you're gonna have to invest some time into learning the market. I can now price my stuff super fast without researching every piece which saves me a lot of time, whereas a newbie will need to research heavily at the beginning so they don't overprice. Nonetheless, I think this is the most profitable way to spend time in-game (not the most fun for everyone, obviously), and is something that even people with low level characters can do.

Focus on Bargain Armor

I have dabbled into more specialized markets, but this is the core strategy that got me started: buying cheap, high-value armor and flipping it quickly.

We've all seen those 1d12h listings on the first page of search that are just insane, but by the time you check the item and decide to buy, it's already been sold. We're mostly buying from people who got something in the game, don't want to spend the time researching a price, and just throw it up for anywhere from 5-40k.

My sole effort is to locate those items then flip them quickly. Pretty simple right?

Here's What We're Buying: Just-listed L60 armor priced under 40k with at least 2 useful affixes in decent quantities stats and high armor ratings.

Useful Affixes: STR, DEX, INT, VIT, ALL-RES, MF, GF, & IAS. It doesn't count if the item has say str + dex, but nothing else. You basically want one offensive affix + 1 defensive/bonus affix to make an item desirable.

You generally don't want to buy an item with just one stat and a specific resistance (physical or fire resistance, for example); they just don't sell for much. What you really want are items with synergistic stats. So, DEX with VIT or MF, STR + IAS, INT + ALL-RES, and so on. These are the items that people will actually be looking for and will sell for much higher prices.

Do not buy an item if it says 1d10h or less. You only want 1d12h or 1d11h. The good deals will go quick, so if it's been on for an hour, then it's not a good enough deal to flip.

Also, make sure to select a generic character type if you don't have a L60 character. Otherwise, you'll only see gear at your level (although this strat is probably doable to a certain extent at the lower levels too).

Guide continued after the page break..

Minimum Armor

These are the rough minimum armor levels that I need to see on an item before I'll buy it. Anything less, and the value declines markedly. I might still buy something that is a little less if it has awesome stats, though.
  • Boots: 500
  • Bracers: 400
  • Chest: 675
  • Gloves: 500
  • Helm: 675
  • Pants: 675
  • Shoulders: 525

How to Sell the Items

Your goal is to sell the item very quickly, so you can sell something else. The prices you see of most items are too high. Try to price it so that it is a no-brainer for someone looking for the type of item. Ideally, I want to be the top-rated item for the common buyout limits (100k, 200k & so on). If everything else is listed for 200k, but they haven't sold in two hours, those prices are too high.

Search for similar items to yours. If you've got some boots with 75 int, and 100 vit, search for boots with 50 int and 75 vit with a max buyout of say 200k to see where you stack up. If you've got better stats and more armor than everything else, price a little higher, or a little lower if in the opposite situation.

You're gonna have to spend some time going through a few pages of auctions to get a feel for a proper price. Just remember that if you price too high, you're gonna have to wait 1.5 days to get that auction slot again. It's far better to be too low than too high.

When you list the item, list the buyout at whatever price you've determined, then the starting bid price at something about 30% lower. This is in-case it doesn't sell, you could still sell it at the end of the auction and not have to use a new auction slot to list it.

Items I Avoid

  • Belts. I honestly haven't explored the market to know enough about why this happening, but nearly all of the belts available list strength (and often a lot of it), but the market for belts with strength doesn't seem to be there. I have bought and sold a lot of belts and it has been only marginally profitable for me.
  • Rings & Amulets. There are absolutely ways to make money with these, but you need to become more of a market specialist which is not worth the effort to me.
  • Class-Specific Items. Wizard hats, mighty belts, and so on. The market for these is smaller and it has not been worth the effort. Again, if you specialize, you can probably make money. Be careful when searching chest armor and helms as if you're searching for a DH & WZ respectively, their class items will dilute your results and cause you to make a bad buy.
  • Weapons (Sort-of). The market for weapons is much more efficient in my experience. DPS is (to a certain extent) the end-all, be-all which makes comparing/valuing weapons very easy for the layman so prices are more efficient. I have definitely made money flipping a few weapons, but finding deals has been time consuming for me.
  • Offhand Items. Immediate comparison of items is basically impossible with mousing over each item to learn its stats. Shields a pretty much a bust in my experience, but for things like Source/Voodoo dolls/etc. a specialist would be able to make money.

Other Tips

  • Don't Buy More Than You Sell. By the end of last week, I had four mules full of shit that I had bought for cheap. I ended up partnering with some friends to sell it off for me, but I ended up losing probably a million gold. Once you inventory is full (10 or so items left in your stash with all auction slots loaded), only buy something if it is a screaming good deal.
  • Don't Get Greedy. This is a Volume Game. If you think you could probably get 200k, but you know absolutely it'll sell at 125k, list it for 125k. An unusable auction slot could cost you several million depending on the volume you're doing. I'll price stuff so low sometimes, that I've tried to buyout my own listings on occasion. Remember, 90% of the items you see on the AH are priced too high and will basically never sell.
  • You'll Probably Lose Gold Sometimes. I've bought things out when I shouldn't have. The worst was what I thought was a screaming deal on a 2h axe for 3m. I hadn't really studied the market and it seemed like a good deal, but I ending up having to list it for 2m to get rid of it. And yet, I've still made a huge amount of gold with minimal effort.
  • Don't Hesitate. If you see a rare with a really high armor rating for 10k when the next item has way less armor, buy it immediately. You don't always hit homeruns, but it's really damned hard to lose money on these.

Other Thoughts

  • Depreciation is Coming. I foresee even more massive depreciation coming with the inferno nerf and the ability to cancel auctions. First, there are just going to be more l60 items over time and even more once people can farm inferno easier. Then, you've got the fact that most auctions are priced to high currently. That will change, and the supply at lower price points will increase dramatically, further lowering prices.
  • There Are Probably More Profitable Strategies. The strategy I use requires little thinking and little market knowledge. A strategy that requires detailed market knowledge could potentially offer higher returns
  • Grinding the AH for IRL $ is Dumb. The $ price of gold is already pretty low and will get insanely low once the RMAH opens up. Don't think you're gonna do this as a business.
  • I Do This For Fun. I don't really enjoy grinding inferno or smashing pots over and over. I get a certain thrill from playing the market. Having said that, I see nothing wrong with just farming the game, even if it might not be as productive/hr.