Introduction to Flipping (OSRS Flipping Guide)
Updated: Jul 31, 2020
Flipping is like any other skill, you gain experience and knowledge the more you do it and can quite often be the most profitable skill/tool to learn. Though despite this it’s not a tangible skill with xp gains or levels, yet it’s still arguably one of the most important. It will help you fund all your other skills and needs. It can be rather complicated and scary to get into when standing from the outside looking in, however once you learn the basic tools needed it can be done quickly, rapidly and with little margin of error.
Flipping is the act of purchasing tradeable items from the Grand Exchange for a low price and reselling for a higher price, with the direct goal of making a margin. As your experience and GP grows your margins will grow and the potential for larger profit will be available. In order to fully understand this concept however and how to approach it we must first break down some core mechanics of Old School Runescape, how the Grand Exchange works and all questions related. This guide will be split into multiple categories to help you fully understand how each component works.
Grand Exchange Interface
One of the biggest features of standard Old School Runescape is the ability to buy and sell items in singular or large quantities on a live marketplace known as the Grand Exchange. Prices are always fluctuating and can vary widely depending on upcoming/past game updates, new meta builds and sadly the quantity of current bots in the system. It can be a great place to make money and also to lose a lot, thus before stepping into Flipping you’ll want to know what each function of the Grand Exchange does and how to use it to your advantage.
When first opening the Grand Exchange Trade Window which is located in Varrock you’ll be presented with 8 Trade slots, 2 unlocked for Free-To-Play and all 8 for Pay-To-Play. As a new player and potential flipper it’s not necessary to have access to all 8 slots however it can help grow your funds drastically. In the window displayed above there is a History button and a Buy/Sell button found in each slot. The Buy/Sell buttons represent which action you wish to take and the History button will show you a history of your trades on the Grand Exchange, this is a very important tab to keep watch on as it will be your main indicator on whether you will want to buy or sell an item.
Looking at the first two slots for example we can see an item that has been selected as a potential flip. The first section marked as sold will indicate the lowest possible price you can purchase the item for at the current moment, whilst the Bought option indicates the highest possible price. It’s found in between these two measures that we will have our margin. In the case displayed above it’s 1 GP, meaning if you say you purchased 5,000 Iron Ore at 75 GP each you would be able to sell it again for a maximum buy price of 76 GP, gaining you a 1 GP margin per ore.
Now this is quite small and in most cases not worth the time and effort but for new players and those with little GP to work with it can be a great and safe way to grow your cash stack to a point where you can invest in items that have larger margins. Stepping further from this when we investigate the Buy/Sell Options on the Grand Exchange we are presented with the following window.
In the Section to the left is a display image of what the current item you are wishing to Buy/Sell is, followed by a Maximum purchase limit shown just to the left. This means that you can only purchase a maximum of 13,000 of this item per 4 hour period. Listed below is the quantity tab where you can increase the quantity of the buying item or set a custom buying amount, however if it’s over the stated Buy Limit it won’t clear until after the 4 hour window has passed. To the right are two buttons spread apart, one pointing down and the other up. These when clicked will increase or decrease the total price per item by 5%, for the purpose of flipping it is highly recommended to neglect these buttons as they’re often widely outside of the margin that we will test, such as the 1 GP margin shown with the Iron Ore.
The hand icon with stacked coins represents a return to default where you can reset the price to the market index price, followed by the … which allows you to enter a custom price per item.
The most important features needed when flipping are the … for custom quantity and … for custom price. Now that we’ve delved through the functions of the Grand Exchange we will move on into the next section and discuss how to find a profit margin.
Finding a profit margin, especially for a new player can be rather difficult, not because of the way the Grand Exchange works but because of your knowledge of existing items in game, popular items, free to play items and such. For this there are a few helpful sites which will be linked at the end of the guide, these will show you metrics such as Highest Quantity Trades, Highest Price Trades, Rarest Trades etc. As a new player focusing on Highest Quantity Trades is the safest route and will also teach you about what items are always in popular demand. This can include items such as Runes, Logs, Fish, Ore and generally all have relatively stable Grand Exchange prices, meaning the chance of losing money through a bad flip is greatly reduced.
The picture shown above is a display of some items that are bought and sold in large quantities throughout the day. For the purpose of this guide we will remain with Iron Ore. Due to such a high demand the price will rarely fluctuate meaning the margin will remain relatively similar. This changes drastically when approaching more rare items such as Clue Scroll Rewards, Raid items and such. When it comes to actually finding a margin you will want to make sure you have enough capital GP to cover the loss of 1 margin check. For example, you purchase some Iron Ore at 40% higher than the standard GE price. This item purchases at a set current maximum the GE is offering, in this instance 176 GP.
Then re-sell the Iron Ore for 1 GP, the GE will default to the lowest resonable offer being 175 GP, showing a margin of 1 GP. For more expensive items its more important to have the capital to be able to buy atleast 3 of the items you wish to flip. For example if you wish to flip Ranger Boots that cost 38 Mil you will require atleast 120 Mil in order to flip the item, check its margin and then make the margin back + profit from further flips of the item.
When To Flip
Knowing when to flip can be rather intimidating and prices can fluctuate depending on the time of day, recent update or current events. Generally the majority of the playerbase is from the United Kingdom and America, meaning that prices will fluctuate more during the hours of 9AM-10PM in those timezones and remain relatively stable in the outside hours. This can be a great indicator of what to purchase, for example purchasing a high level raid item such as a Dragon Hunter Lance, during the lul period you might acquire it for 100 Mill. Wait a few hours until the active periods in those time zones and it will be traded at a much higher rate, meaning a larger profit margin can occur. You could potentially earn anywhere from 100K+ just from purchasing items outside of active windows and selling in active times.
Furthermore game updates and ingame events can and do greatly influence market prices, such as drastic crashes if an update has changed the meta for a raid or if a current event is going on. Such as a Christmas event where Santa Hats and such are in much higher supply. Granted items such as these will always be in relatively high demand but using these windows to purchase large quantities of items can be a great method to make long term gains.
For example a recent new meta has decreased the price of Stamina potions down to around 5,000 GP. Prior to this update of the Hallowed Sepulcor they were much more expensive and harder to acquire. With this knowledge lets say for example a poll is made that reduces the drop rate of Amalayse Crystals, a core component in making Stamina Potions. The poll passes, it would then be a great idea to quickly purchase up large quantities of Stamina Potions and hold onto them for a month or two until supply gradualy decreases. This is a hypothetical situation however but it's effects can be likened to content related to current and previous polls.
What to Flip
As a beginner flipper you'll want to stick to High Quantity Low Risk Items such as those shown on the Most Traded page of the OSRS Grand Exchange Database. Stick to these until you get an understanding of how the system works and start to learn more about the items thats exist within OSRS. These will all be relatively safe meaning if you lose money on a flip it will generally be much less than 100K.
Once you're feeling more comfortable you can start to check items on pages such as Valuable Trades this is a great page to look at for recognising trending Low Quantity High Risk items, the same methods as shown above apply although a greater deal of study is required in order to minimise your risk of loss. For example, selecting an item such as the Ancestral Robe Set and opening it's containing page, here we can see how the item has tracked over the past month, 3 months and 6 months. Looking at this graph can help show how the item is tracking over a period of time and how it's price fluctuates based on day or month.
Over a 1 month period we can notice that the price of the armor set has drastically increased, had slight lul periods and greater increases. This can be an indicator that purchasing the item and sitting on it for a few days could be a good idea, however it's always impossible to completely predict how an item will track, which is why precaution is always required
GE Tracker (This site can be useful for finding items however they charge a subscription fee, the official Grand Exchange Database website offers just as much useful and meaningful information)