I'm playing a Barbarian and after I went to Inferno difficulty for the first time, I realised the importance of gear in this game. Every new act it felt like it's impossible to move on - farming a previous act 100x times for better gear often didn't help. Fortunately, there was one way that made me able to get through all acts quickly and finish the game as a solo barbarian - I used the auction house very effectively.
With the right strategies, I was able to generate around 30 million profits by selling and reselling auctions. In this guide you will find information about the reasoning behind using the AH, the strategies I have used and which common mistakes you have to avoid.
You can find the entire guide as a video on youtube.com/watch?v=rrmsr7aEW-U - here I show my strategies live in action and how they work.
This guide is made by a Barbarian so some points will be focused on my class. However, the basic principles are the same for all classes and you can use this method for any class really.
1. Benefits of the auction house and why you should make use of it
2. Buying & Reselling - explained in detail
2.a. Basic requirements
2.b. Playing the AH
2.c. Calculating the min price
2.d. Legendary checking
3. Common mistakes made
3.a. Not socketing items when selling
3.b. Thinking too much and being too slow
1 Benefits of the auction house and why you should make use of it
I'm playing one of the best geared characters at the moment in Europe - a Barbarian with multiple legendaries, a top weapon and high end act 3/4 gear in every slot. Even though Barbarians are considered very gear dependant, with the gear I have right now, I can solo anything at Inferno difficulty including Diablo. The game is finally fun because I don't drop my HP instantly anymore if I'm up against monsters. Upgrading the gear had big impact on my survivability and damage. Just changing the build and optimising the playstyle isn't enough to get through inferno difficulty, you also need to have the gear.
As Barbarian, if you want to progress in Act 2, you need to have gear that you can't really farm in Act 1. I did over 30 Butcher runs with little to no success - nothing good really dropped, and after some time it felt like I was just wasting time. I accumulated 3 million gold during this time, by selling everything and getting a few decent drops every now and then.
Then I started to make use of the AH efficiently - not just buying upgrades, but also making additional gold with it. I made 10 millions of gold in 3 days and substantially upgraded my own gear with that money (especially all resists and life on hit). I was rushing through Act 2 afterwards. For Act 3 & 4 I did the same as well.
2 Buying & Reselling - explained in detail
So how did I manage to make enough gold to purchase a 31 % block stormshield, justice lantern, 600 life on hit wep and other top rares? My strategy in AH was pretty simple - purchase items cheap and sell them at a higher value. I started to buy items for 600k and sell them for 1,2 million, later I switched to weapons and made 3-4 million profit per item (buying for 5 million, selling for 8 million). And my strategy worked!
Why is that strategy even possible? Two reasons.
People don't know the price of an item
Often, players are only aware of the prices of items they find for their own class. If a wizard finds a barbarian item, it might look bad to him and he sets a price that is way too low.
People don't have enough auctions available and want to sell quickly
Some people are farming A3 and A4 with insane speed (for example DH with top end gear) and don't have enough auction spots available (limit is 10) and need to sell stuff extremely quickly.
2a Basic requirements
For this strategy to work, you need to have some starting capital. As the very minimum, I recommend to have 2 million. With them, you can start purchasing items for around 150-300k and sell them for double the price.
You need to be totally aware of values of all items - that's essential to this strategy. It is enough, if you just focus on one style of items - I focused on Barbarian items. Later I also added wizard items to my knowledge and now I'm buying and selling them as well.
You are going to make some mistakes in the begin - that is normal. Nobody is perfect, however it pays off and once you understand the system you can make a lot of profit. I did mistakes before I started using the AH effectively, and used those negative experiences to my advantage.
2b Playing the AH
If you gathered knowledge about the type of items you want to scout, it's time to get to action now. There are 2 key factors. First, you need to search for items that are often undervalued. For example, when scouting barbarian items you wanna look for +all resist, +vitality and +strength. Secondly, you are ONLY going to look at auctions that have 1d 11h left. This means they are fresh auctions. There are other people using this method or simply searching for cheap upgrades, and it's unlikely that you have more than a few seconds to purchase an item like that.
Ok let's say you look for pants with +all resist, +vitaliy and +str. You check all the 1d 11h left ones and then find some for 300k which are like 500k worth. You immediately purchase the item.
2c Calculating the min price and sell price
When you are purchasing items, you need to make sure that they are at least ~15 % more worth than what you purchased them for (exact value is 17,6417 %, however to make it easier to calculate we use 15 %).
That way you ensure that you don't make any loss with the deal if you manage to sell the item. For example, if you buy an item for 100k gold, set as min price 100000 * 1,15 = 115000. I use a calculator for this usually.
For the sell price, now you got time to think about the right price. Search for items with almost identical stats (I usually search for same main values but 5-10 points lower on each). Then you underbid the lowest identical item and sell it. If you are doing this right, in most cases the item sells in a few minutes, sometimes instantly.
2d Legendary checking
Another strategy I want to mention is legendary checking. Sometimes, people are not aware of the value of items - I bought a Helm of Command with good stats and sold it for 3x the price. 2,5 million profit in 30 secs.
String of Ears and Stormshield are other items you can look for, often people aren't aware of the value of the % melee reduction and % block and sell it for a very low price.
However, I don't find this strategy to be very successful, as there is already many people scouting for legendarys and also a big bunch of players that's looking exactly for these items to purchase their own gear. I'm just scouting legendaries whenever I have time left and finished all the other item slots.
3 Common mistakes made
3a Not socketing items when selling
Often I see people not socketing their items when they are selling them. A Flawless Square Gem is like 5k gold worth. Let me give you an example. You are selling legs with 70 strength, 65 all resist and 2 sockets. Now only people looking for strength and all resists will see them. There more people looking for vitality and resist or vitality/all resist/strength. So what if you put 2 Flawless Square Amethysts in them and get them 70 vitality? Many more players will see your item pop up now and you can sell it much better.
You should also socket weapons with a ruby to rank them a bit higher. You can also socket them with an amethyst, as there are many people looking for Life on Hit. However, most people will realise that the life on hit doesn't come from the weapon and not purchase it then anyways, so I'd go with the Ruby.
3b Thinking too much and being too slow
When I was trying to buy my first upgrades, I used to make this one mistake. I was searching for my upgrades, then I found a good item for a very low price. Then I took time thinking "is this item really underpriced? should I buy it?". I checked for similar items and found out that it was indeed 50 % below normal price. Hooray! Went back to the item, wanted to buy it and - guess what? 'Item is no longer available.' That happened several times to me until I realised, that all underpriced items are fresh items (1d 11h left / 1d 23h earlier) and you have to react in a matter of seconds to buy them. Don't think about it - just inform yourself about all prices and worth before you start scouting, and then buy an item instantly if you are sure it's underpriced.
There is one exception. If you got a lot of money, like 20 million, you can trade more and more with high end weapons. If I see an 10 million weapon for a 7 million buyout, I can still take some time to think about it, as there aren't many players who can afford this.
First of all, I must admit that I didn't purchase the game to play an auction house. While it's fun everytime you see you made a lot of profit without much effort, I bought the game so I can actually play it and slay monsters and also do PvP later on.
However, at least as Barbarian, you require better gear and more gold than what you can farm normally. That's why I started to use the AH and decided to make this guide to help you others out as well.
I could have kept this a secret (I know that some people are already aware of exactly these strategies, however they haven't been shared in such detail yet imo) but I prefer that everyone is able to enjoy the game and reach his goals, independantly of the class he is playing.
My recommended strategy is to do this a couple of times each day, it shouldn't take longer than 8-10 minutes to do a successful scouting routine. I usually do one every hour and do 2 farm runes (act 3/4) between them. You should just do the act you can farm effectively (5 stacks boss kill without too much trouble).
As mentioned before, if you'd like to see this strategies in action, check my video
I'm not a native speaker, so if you find any major grammar or spelling errors in the guide let me know and I will edit them.
I hope this helps, if you want to discuss the strategies or want to add some, feel free to do so. I'm also going to update this with advanced strategies whenever I have time again.
I'll give out the advanced strategies in small amounts every few days on my YT channel. There are like 10 different tips that help to become even better at the AH game. Everything is based on the EU AH, but the main principles should still apply to the US AH.