Insider Trader: Market alerts from The Undermine Journal

Basil Berntsen
B. Berntsen|10.04.10

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Insider Trader: Market alerts from The Undermine Journal
Insider Trader is a column about professions, written by Basil "Euripides" Berntsen, who also writes Gold Capped. This week, we're discussing something near and dear to every trade skill user's heart: prices -- specifically, how to get better prices.

You remember The Undermine Journal, right? Here's what I wrote when I discovered the alpha. The creators have been busy managing the growth of the site, adding servers and realms, as well as periodically adding new functionality. It's in beta now, and they just added the most interesting feature: market alerts.

You can now set up the site to email you every time stuff you're looking for hits a certain price. For example, if you are buying Saronite Ore to prospect so you can take advantage of the removal of the epic gem transmute cooldown removal in patch 4.0, you can go to your realm on The Undermine Journal and set it up so it will email you whenever the price goes down to your target.

Once you have the alert set, every time the site gets fresh data from your realm (apparently about once an hour), it lets you know if your alert has been triggered by sending you an email. You have three options for alerts: "cheapest cost to buy [qty]," market price, or "available buyout quantity." Let's talk about some of the ways you can use this.

The first situation we talked about is simple. If you want to buy something, use either market price or cheapest price for [qty]. This allows you to find deals, assuming you configure it correctly. Saronite is just one example of this; however, I also use it for enchanting mats, food mats, herbs for inscription and old ore for prospecting. The difference between market price and "cheapest price" is in how it's calculated. Market price is a good standby because it is the average price you'd pay if you bought out the cheapest 15 percent of stock; however, I like to use "cheapest price" because it lets me decide how much I am willing to log in for. It's also immune to the effects of people's listing stock at unreasonably high prices, knowing it won't sell, just to get the market price higher.

The sell side

The value for getting stuff cheap is obvious; however, you can also use these alerts to help you sell more profitably. If you sell something that's constantly getting undercut, you can get notified when the market price goes up or the supply dries up. I am not willing to take the time to craft something if I'm selling it at or near cost. I have too many fingers in too many pies to tolerate unprofitable uses of my time. To that end, in some of the really competitive markets I'm in, I use market alerts to tell me when the opportune moment for posting is. I have two alerts set up for Eternal Belt Buckles, for example. One of them will notify me if the cheapest price for 3 buckles is over my desired profit point (20 percent, in my case), and the other notifies me when there are fewer than 10 available for sale.

Each of these situations gets a different response for me. If the price goes up, I simply post from my stock and note down that I need to get more raw mats when I find a good deal. If there are only a few listed but the price is still low, instead of undercutting, I'll overcut and maybe even consider buying a few of the really cheap ones for reposting.

All about the rares

Some markets are only available if you are really lucky or are willing to splurge on rare recipes. There's a wealth of weird old stuff, some of which is really valuable, that only drops incredibly infrequently from a wide array of random mobs. Whether you're buying it for resale or to learn, you can really get much more effective at finding these items with alerts. When I was looking for my spellpower to weapon enchant, the last thing I wanted to do was take an hour to clear all the bosses in Molten Core and hope that I got lucky with a drop. I searched the auction house for it every time I logged in for three weeks until I saw one posted for under 6,000g, and then I bought it immediately. I'll bet I missed a few of these just because I hadn't happened to log in at the right time, and if this alert service had been available, I'd have loved it. Now I use it for potentially soon-to-be-removed polymorphs.

Insider Trader takes you behind the scenes of the bustling subculture of professional craftsmen, examining the profitable, the tragically lacking and the methods behind the madness.
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