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Do Undercuts Mean I Should Cancel an Auction?

"Hi Marcko,

I was wondering why in your Damn Gold Guide you stated 'I do not, repeat do not, cancel my listed auctions.' After 24/48 hours most of my flips sell, however there are stubborn ones, that continuously get undercut that don't sell. What is the maximum time I should wait before re posting them at market price?

~John"

Hey John, thanks for the great question. Since it's one that I receive quite often, I'll answer publicly on the blog.

Yes, there is a point when you should probably cancel an auction, but it's not always as obvious as you'd think. If you are short on gold for some reason and can't afford something without canceling auctions, then I'd cancel for sure instead of pushing off an important purchase. Another case when you should cancel auctions is if you posted for way too much by mistake (clerical or situational). However, an assumption most people make when deciding to cancel auctions is that undercuts are a sign that they overpriced the auction; they're a bad omen of sorts.

If you follow this logical reasoning to its conclusion, nothing you post will ever sell because someone will always undercut it and eventually the price of all items will be nothing.

While thinking things through proves that the idea your auctions will be "continuously undercut and not sell" is very unlikely, there still is a point where the statement is true.

You must, for example, post your auctions at a price that will sell in a realistic amount of time, regardless of undercuts. If green wood logs never went above 10 silver in the past six months, then I'm unlikely to sell at that price point even if there are a few thousand higher than that. By looking at an item's recent history of prices you can quickly figure out whether the price is moving in a certain direction, fluctuating, etc.

Let's do an example to clarify what I'm talking about.

Green Wood Logs are at around 65 copper buy out.
The past few weeks they have been rising.
The lowest price in the past week has been 50 copper buy out.

If I post at 65 copper buy out, I will likely see a large amount of undercuts. However, if the pattern of prices continues, then I will eventually sell.

I could also post at 60 copper and sell quickly, but I'd make less profit.

Last tip... waiting 24-48 hours for an item to sell if not a big deal, depending on an item. I want my rare dyes to sell in a week and my grapes to sell in a weekend. I wouldn't apply a standard of time against all the same items you're selling.

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