Below are some of the patterns you will find if you follow the price of a particular item over time.
We have described roughly what this might mean. Note the words ”roughly” and “might”
The “Something’s been nerfed somewhere” profile
A long established item suddenly starts to increase in cost. Importantly the increase is a sustained one lasting weeks or more.
Ok, before you get excited, check for seasonal factors. Did the increase start at the beginning of a vacation, or in Autumn (fall) more people play in the Autumn and Winter, and this can increase the demand (and therefore value) of certain items. If you can’t find any of these factors then you need to dig further. It can be a convoluted process. On some servers for example, the introduction of exotic flying mounts – only obtainable after completing very long and convoluted quest lines, increases the demand for certain items required in these quests. This can be very hard to spot. Even Wowwiki and Thottbot can be weeks behind – but you can’t afford to be –
Patch notes such as "Nether Drake added as quest reward for …"
are the sort of things to look out for.
If you find a genuine reason for the price increase, and you find it early enough. Ride the roller-coaster to the top. But watch out – it WILL have a top, and you want to get off just before it.
The Scary Profile
The price is up and down, by as much as 40% from the mean in both directions – it happens quickly, and often. The items that do this are ones needed in big bulk – quickly – by players. Cloth for rep grinding is the classic example. A player will come in and clean the entire AH out of reasonable priced Silk, buying perhaps 30 or 40 stacks in one go – just to hand it all in for faction rep ! A lot of low level mats fall into this category. A player starts an alt, decides to level that alt in Blacksmithing, and subsequently buys 30 stacks of Copper Bar. The price means nothing to him or her, It’s being paid for by a level 80 with a few thousand gold in the bank.
Here’s a tip. If someone buys these and you get there name – whisper them asap.
"What are you making" ?
If the answer is craft leveling stuff ask another question
"Are you selling that stuff at the AH"
Why are you asking?
Because if it’s an uncommon (green) item – or better, and the guy is just wants a very quick turnaround, you could offer to buy them, then send them to your enchanter for materials.
Check the prices are ok, but often a high level character will be glad to get such a quick turnaround, and you make a tidy, and very quick profit.
This happens a lot. Low level items "roller-coaster" all the time. It’s an ideal way to start when you have about 30g as starting capital..as long as you have been tracking the prices.
The “New Item” Profile
Sometimes, a new item comes along that will keep most of it’s value. What’s the main difference between this and the "About to get nerfed" category. Simple these items are normally consumables – and useful ones at that. Runic Healing or Mana potions keep their value. Yes there is a small peak and trough when the item is very new, but you try doing an instance and explaining to your team that you didn’t come fully stocked with potions. High level consumables are always required. New ones are something you should always be on the lookout for.
TIP you will sometimes find that the ingredients for an item that has just been added by Blizzard suddenly get their drop rates nerfed.Blizzard like to do this to increase the value of a new item. Sometimes it is made out of something that WAS a very common drop – and now is as rare as hen’s teeth. Again chack test realm posts on the forum and patch notes. However, in our experience Blizzard often leave these nerf’s undocumented, and only experience will tell you.
3.0 destroyed the drop rate of Netherweave in the Hellfire Peninnsula, replacing it instead with lower level cloth drops.
The “This Item is About to Get Nerfed” Profile
A new item just keeps increasing in value. Weeks go by and it’s just worth more and more.
WATCH OUT! IT WILL GO DOWN.
This happens when an expansion or a patch brings a new item into the game. The first characters to harvest, loot or mine it sell it for a fortune, others think "WoW a new weapon, potion, ore , crafting material etc" and pay the price. Others see the stuff, want one, buy more. Eventually of course everyone has one, and the item becomes passe. and the price plummets.
Another reason is that Blizzard might have accidentally unbalanced the game in some small way. This does happen now and again. Sometimes they are not that quick to fix it, but they will in the end. Don’t be left holding stock of an item about to get nerfed ! It happens, and test realm posts in the forum’s and notes for upcoming patches need to be read to ensure your not left holding worthless stock.