LowballingLowballing is the art of placing buy orders far lower than the usual going prices and counting on some of them eventually getting filled. Lowball buy orders are typically 1/10, 1/100, 1/1000 or even less of the usual going price. While simply putting up buy orders at 0.01 isk each on random items certainly does work (to an extent anyhow), there is an art to lowballing and increasing the chances your orders get filled.
Lowball orders can be thought of as similar to lottery tickets only with much better odds of hitting. They don't all hit and the ones that do hit don't always hit but they do hit and when one does hit it sure is nice. Several of my trade alts didn't really get going good until a lowball buy order got filled.
Lowball orders work best when there either isn't much competition or there's enough volume reasonably priced orders get filled and then some of your lowball orders get filled too. They work well in regions that don't have a major hub and/or a lot of regional buyers.
Tips and Tricks
When placing lowball orders don't worry about station buyers or even a few normally priced, low volume regional buy orders. You're after the lazy and the stupid, sellers who either don't know what an item is worth, don't notice how little you're paying, don't want to travel even 1 jump for a better price, or just don't care. The type of player who just sells to the highest buy order in range and couldn't be bothered checking prices.
The exact price you buy at can make a big difference. You don't want prospective sellers to think about the price or double check prices at all. Choose your numbers carefully to make it look like what they're expecting to see. If the usual sell price is say 500,000,000.00 and the highest buy order is a *station order for 490,000,000.00 it's a good idea to put your *regional buy order up for 490,000.00. Sometimes an intelligent seller (not the usual lazy or stupid player lowballers depend upon) will notice that 490 *million buy order, decide to sell for that price, but make a mistake and wind up selling to you for 490 *thousand instead. That's 3 less zeros, the seller expected to see 490 mil, when he hit sell 490k came up, he didn't look closely enough thought it was the expected 490 mil and sold to you for 1/1000th of what he thought he was getting. If you'd priced it at 500,000.00, 499,999.99 or just about anything else chances are he would have noticed and not sold it to you. The trick is to make your price look just like the other guy's price (or in the absence of competition, the usual going price) only missing a few significant digits.
Always make lowball buy orders full regional, buying at these prices you really don't care where it is, you'll make a big profit even if you can't dock to pick it up and have to resell it on station. In addition if the seller can't sell the first item he wants to sell due to no buy orders being in range, he may travel a ways to sell it. That travel could bring him within range of higher priced orders for other items he's selling thus causing you to lose out on even more deals.
Patience is key to lowballiing successfully. Don't expect your lowballs to get filled quickly. Place them and leave them alone (other than maybe occasionally modifying them if someone keeps 0.01 cutting them). Sometimes a few lowballs will get filled quickly but most of the time lowballs just sit there waiting until someone lazy enough or dumb enough comes along and fills a few.
ExamplesJust a few examples of lowball buy orders that worked out very well for me in the past.
I was going to be moving into a new ship soon (I forget what ship) and decided to buy 3 small shield extender II modules for it ahead of time in order to save some isk. At the time they were over 500k in sell orders and buy orders were just over 400k. I wanted to place my buy order for 3 extenders at 412,000 ISK each but I mistakenly entered it as 412,000 extenders at 3 ISK each. I noticed my mistake right away but decided to leave it up for a while and see what happened. There were no other regional orders for them so what the hell. Within a day someone had already sold me a couple, by the end of the week I had 20 or 30. Eventually others noticed and started cutting me, after a month or so I wound up with about 100 all bought at 6 ISK or less each. Then the cutters started placing large full regional buys in the 300-400k range.
Not bad at all, especially for what started out as a silly mistake.
I started several alts on shoestring budgets of 5-10 million ISK. For these alts I mostly just put up a bunch of lowball buy orders and waited for something to hit. Tycoon books were one of the best. I bought at least 5 or 6 Tycoon books for under 1 mil ISK each, one alt even got 2 books at the same time. That's an easy ~90 mil profit on each book, increasing the capital the alts had to work with by 10-20 times. Some of those orders got filled within a few days, others took a month or so before they got filled.
My single most profitable lowball order ever was a Caldari Titan Book I paid 4.9 *million for and resold for 4.4 *billion. I only had about 8 billion in total at the time so that one item made a huge difference. I'd put the order up just for the heck of it and left it alone. Then a couple months later someone filled it. I couldn't believe it at first. I double checked the item name and price several times, I even wondered if I was dreaming before I finally did believe it.
There was a buy order up on Jita for 4.4 billion. Not a bad price, I thought about selling to the buy order but figured I'd see if I could get more for it first. So I posted it for 4.9 billion and waited a few days. No joy. I changed the price to 4.8 billion and waited a couple more days. Still no joy. By then I'd decided if it took a week or more to sell i'd be better off taking 4.4 billion and reinvesting it immediately rather than sitting on it hoping for a bit more for any longer. So I sold it to that 4.4 billion buy order. I put up a buy order of my own for 4.9 million on Jita but that was a waste of time since within minutes the perpetual titan book camper had another 4.4 billion buy order up again. You'd think CCP could manage to catch blatantly obvious market bots like that.
Since then I've had similar buy orders up for all 4 titan books in 6 different regions and haven't gotten another since. :(