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Auctioning for Beginners


by twiddl3d33

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In NT #228, among other issues, we have gotten quite a few useful hints and tips on how to successfully win an auction. I'm sure it has helped a lot of us to get our hands on that darling Strawberry Fields Forever Paint Brush, or perhaps a rare negg has found its way into your inventory by some skillful bidding? Good for you! So you have learned how to bid and behave to win an auction race, but how about setting an auction up for yourself? For those who never tried it, or those who tried but always got that woeful neomail from TNT saying, "Sorry, this neomail is to inform you that your auction has NOT been successful," I hereby present my own observations and thoughts on some of the basics of setting up a successful auction.

The Basics

1) The Item

First and foremost, in order to hold an auction, you must have an item to auction! Pretty logical, you'd think, huh? Basically any item can be auctioned as long as it is in your inventory and not currently in a trading lot. You are, however, not able to auction certain items from your newbie-pack, such as the Starter Paint Brushes and the Cardboard Petpets. Occasionally you will also have items connected to an ongoing plot or war that are not available to auction or trade. All these show up as "N/A" in your Quickstock, so don't worry about auctioning them out by mistake!

Usually items that are put up for auctions are the rare items that are commonly known as "UBs" or "UnBuyables" if you spell it out. That means that they're worth more than the 99,999 NP for which you can sell items in your shop. However there are a multitude of 'cheaper' auctions as well. Generally speaking, however, the more valuable an item - the bigger chance of getting it 1) sold and 2) sold with profit. We'll go more into detail about this further on.

2) The Auction House

The other crucial part to setting up an auction is of course The Auction House! This is located in Neopia Central, squeezed in next to the National Neopian Bank. You can reach it from the map, from the quicklink in the shops-toolbar or through any user’s lookup.

If you are new to auctions it might be a good idea to click your way around the Auction House for a bit and get to know it. You can for example ask the Auction Genie to look up items like those you want to auction and see what kind of prices they’re traded for. If you’re insecure about what price to set, looking at what others have done can be a good help in deciding such things! However in order to actually auctioning an item yourself, you need to start in your inventory.

Setting up the auction

Once you have decided on an item to auction and put it in your inventory (in case you were carrying it in your SDB for example), just scroll down the “Choose an Action” –list and find “Put up for Auction!” at the bottom and it will take you to the Auction set-up screen. Now this is the most crucial step on your part, so pay attention! This is where you decide what price you want the bidding to start at, what the minimum increment should be and how long you want the auction to last. Sounds complicated? Let’s try to break it down a bit:

Start price (NP): Self-explanatory really. This is the minimum price you’re prepared to sell for. It’s wise to put this at least a couple of hundred NP lower than the average lowest price on the Shop Wiz. After all, if people could as well buy something in a shop, what’s the point of even starting to bid on an auction?

Minimum Increment (NP): This is what has a lot of people confused. The increment is the amount of NP you raise a bid with. It’s a difficult word but if you think of the word “increase” you might perhaps see the similarity and remember it that way. A lot of people make the mistake to put the same amount NP for increment as they do for starting price, not thinking it matters at all when it’s in fact the other way around! The increment is one of the crucial parts to a successful auction. Consider the following example:

Say you want to auction a piece of the Petpet Lab Map. They sell for around 1500 NP on the Shop Wiz so an auction should start around 1000 to 1200 NP. That way people get attracted to it because it’s cheaper than what they can get off the ShopWiz, yet there’s room for you to make a profit if you get a good bidding going. The optimum increment is usually around 5 to 20% of the starting price, depending on how pricey the item is. A good increment for the example map here I’d say is 75 to 125 NP. This jacks the price up at a good rate, without turning too expensive too quickly.

Now if you were to put the increment price the same as the starting price in this, what would happen? See, the increment starts right off with the first bid, meaning that if you start an auction for the Petpet Lab Map piece at 1000 NP and put the increment to 1000 NP as well, the first person to bid would land on having to pay 2000 NP for the piece. Any sane person would avoid an auction like that because they can get any piece they want off the Shop Wizard for under 1500 NP!

If you instead set an increment of 100 NP, the first bidder would bid 1100 NP, the next 1200 NP, and if someone is missing that exact piece they might adamantly keep bidding and you will actually make a profit once the auction closes! So choose your increment wisely! If you instead were to auction a Transmogrification Potion for several hundred thousand Neopoints, increments of 20 000+ NP would be better to ensure that you don’t lose the item too cheap!

This brings us to the next step:

Auction Length: This is another tricky yet crucial part of auctioning items. It’s really difficult to give any definite ‘rules’ for how long an auction should be; it all depends on what item it is and what time you start the auction. The first thing to consider here is what you want to achieve with your auction. Do you need Neopoints fast and are prepared to maybe not make the best deal out of it as long as it’s quick? Then a short auction with fairly low increment is good enough for you. Are you on the other hand trying to squeeze out the most Neopoints available for that treasured Paint Brush? Then you might want to consider a longer auction time and a higher increment.

The second thing you need to keep in mind when it comes to auction length is when the site is usually busiest, simply because the more people there are on the site, the bigger chance someone is around who wants your item. A lot of Neopets users live in the USA and most people are online in late afternoons/evenings so it’s a good idea to try and time the end of your auction to that time frame. It’s, however, not an absolute requirement for a successful auction since a lot of us don’t live in the US after all ^^. Get to know your NST clock and what that time corresponds to for you and the rest of the world to get an idea of who is around to participate in your auction. (Strangely, NST is coincidental with Pacific Standard Time (PST) in the US… Who would have thought! ;) )

Neofriends Only: This is the last option on your auctioning menu and allows you to limit the bidding to be only for your Neofriends. A lot of people like to give their friends “friendship discounts” or run donation auctions for their friends or guilds and this is a way to keep your auction more private. Just make sure that you HAVE neofriends and that they’re online during the auction time before you cross this box, or your auction will definitely not be successful.

Auction Item!

There, all ready and set? Double-check everything before you finalise the auction! Once you have clicked that button you can’t go back to change anything, nor withdraw from the auction! Therefore it’s most important that you make sure you typed in the starting amount correctly, didn’t add or lose a 0 or two from the increment amount and that you’re happy with the auction length. Once you’ve double-checked everything, all you have to do is click that button and wait for the bids to start rolling in!

And then what?

So, the auction is in process, now what? If you like to keep an eye on your auctions and see how they’re doing, if anyone has bid on it and how much time there’s left, all you have to do is go visit the kind Scorchio in the Auction House. He’s a most amiable fellow even though he talks faster than an Anniversary Negg sells out in the Food Shop… Anyway, be nice to him because he in fact takes care of the whole actual auction hassle of keeping track of the bids and the time and makes sure that the bidder gets their item and you get your Neopoints at the end! To track your auctions, simply click “My Auctioned Items” in the Auction House and you’ll get a full report!

Success?

Usually auctions are slow during the first period; the real bidding doesn’t occur until it’s almost over, when everyone (hopefully) tries to get in the last bid and win the item, so don’t be discouraged if nothing seems to happen at first! When the time is up, the Auction House Scorchio will finalise the transaction for you, moving the item from your inventory to the buyer automatically as well as adding the Neopoints to your current balance at hand. You will also receive a Neomail with information on who got the item and how many Neopoints you received.

If your auction was not successful - no one bid on your item or the bidder didn’t have enough Neopoints available at the time of the auction ending - you will also receive a Neomail explaining this. This is perhaps somewhat saddening if you were hoping for some Neopoints in your pocket; however, it’s not a huge tragedy since all you have to do is try again! Your item will still be available in your inventory for you to make another try at auctioning, put it in your shop or simply store away in your SDB until you feel the time is right to part from it!

There you go, that’s really all there is to it! Just remember this: Never set the starting price as minimum increment!

Happy auctioning, everyone!

 
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