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How To Sell Unusual Hats In TF2

Updated on December 30, 2014

Introduction

Let's talk unusuals. Once you're in the market, how to do go about selling them? Between the sharks and phisherman, it's a wonder how traders are able to make profit. Today, I'm going to share some of my tricks with you. I've been in the unusual market since 2012, and I've seen a lot of changes since then. Some prices seem to stay steady, and others take a nosedive quick. But if you're careful, you can make steady profit without worrying about ever losing big. Let's jump right in and I'll show you my tricks!

Price Checking

This is the most important aspect of unusual trading for you to master early. Okay, when I say "master," nobody is really perfect at it. But you can at least get to the point where you're making profit rather than losing it. First and foremost, backpack.tf is not where you want to be for accurate unusual estimates. You can use it as a reference point, but the real-time estimate is going to be over at TF2 Outpost. This is where you can see the price people are asking for their unusuals, what others are offering, and then compare them to backpack.tf if you so desire. When I'm price checking a hat, I typically find the lowest buyout and set that as my starting point. In truth, if someone adds me and offers their hat, I can simply quote the lowest buyout and tell the person I can get it there cheaper. It's totally legitimate, honest trading. But it's trading in your favor. If backpack.tf has the lowest price, you could consider quoting that. Use the lowest price to your advantage, and always stick to your gut feeling. If you have a value in mind for another trader's hat and know yours is worth more, the other player should be paying at least enough to make the trade equal. Keep in mind, you're going to have to price check any sweets you get, then worry about whether they will decrease in value. It's really easy to lose track of every item you get in a trade.

Just as a quick example, I once traded for a Stormy Team Captain, worth about 7 Buds at the time. I only had about 4 buds in unusuals, but I made up the rest with about 70 items from my inventory. I would guess by the time that guy sold everything he got from me, the value of everything would have declined by at least 2 Buds. It wasn't necessarily 2 Buds profit for me, but it was a 2 bud loss for him. Have a firm price in mind, and don't be afraid to say "no" if things look too crazy.

Haggling 101

Another very important skill you'll need to learn is how to haggle, that is, how to make counter offers and how to say "no." When a player adds you to offer on your unusual, always suspect he is getting the better deal. I mean, why offer a trade if you're not going to make profit? Do some research on the other player's unusual and figure out what it's worth compared to yours, how many people are offering on it, and consider whether the hat looks nice to begin with. If you're interested in the other player's hat, try to talk him down, but don't bully him. Be firm with your price estimates and don't be bullied back. If you estimate your hat to be worth 2 Buds and his to be worth 1.7, you want to get at least 0.3 Buds in sweets. That's the absolute minimum, and you should only take that if his hat is the easier sell because unless that 0.3 is pure, you're going to have to resell those sweets too, which also have potential to lose value over time.

Direct Trade Requests

If you're not such a smooth talker, you can also do direct trade requests. The benefit of doing something like this is not having the awkward pause before accepting terms where a trader has potential to back out. You either get the trade or you don't. The other player can make a counter offer, too, so make sure you start high (within reason) and let them counter down. This is a really convenient way to make trades passively, so if you're at work or in class, but still want to trade, you can make a bunch of offers beforehand and players can accept or decline while you're off doing something else. The only downside to this method is the amount of players that bother making counter-offers. Sometimes you just lose track of the trade, so if you're really after a specific unusual, I recommend adding the person and discussing over this method. Of course, it never hurts to try both.

Advertising on Trade Servers

Trade servers can be a great way to sell your unusuals in a day or less, as you're hanging around people that are actively looking to trade their items as well. I recommend filtering for "unusual" in the server tags, so you find trade servers dedicated to trading unusual hats. When I'm on unusual servers, I like to shift+tab and bring up the TF2 Outpost Search so I'm ready to price check if I get an offer or see something I like. It's important to be able to do price checking quickly because the best deals are going to be spur-of-the-moment for the other player, especially in a trade server setting. Trading on servers gives you a chance to see the effect in-game, too. Some unusuals just don't look as nice as Outpost seems to depict, so this allows you to use your judgment to determine whether the hat looks nice enough for you to pursue.

Additionally, when you're on trade servers, you can actively participate in the discussions about unusual hat effects. This will give you more insight on which effects are "in" and "out," which hats have the potential to lose value, what the "cancer" hats are, etc. Keep one eye on the chat at all times because you will learn the most about unusual trends this way. Pay attention to which hats are getting offers though chat, too. If someone is advertising an Aces High Stormin' Norman for six hours straight without attracting any interest, it's probably not a great hat for you to pursue.

Steam Community Market

If you're looking to make money, head over to the Steam Community Market and put your unusual up for sale. Sometimes it can be difficult to establish a fair price since Valve will be taking a good chunk of your sale, but there's some room to maneuver. If you're looking for Steam Wallet funds to buy a new game, you probably don't mind selling for a little less than the hat is worth just to get the money. The best way to sell on the Steam Market is to figure out the price of keys on the market, multiply by however many keys Buds are worth at the time you're reading this, and set the price just a little lower than that. Then do a sanity check. Would it make more sense for someone to buy a bunch of keys on the market then trade for the same hat on someone else's Outpost thread, or is it cheaper for them to buy your hat? If the latter is true, your hat will sell before long. If you have an unusual up for more than a week without any bites, consider lowering the price just a little bit and continue to do that sanity check. Keep in mind what you had to do to the price compared to the value of the hat to get it to sell so you have an idea what to expect next time you hit the market.

Optimizing All Options

So I talked about a ton of different methods, but can you combine them all? I would argue that you could combine most of them, but you might have to sacrifice some methods for others based on personal preference. The combination of methods I typically use to sell my hats depends on how busy I am in real life. I always start by putting my hat on Outpost. Your Outpost trades aren't taken down until you take them down, so even if the item leaves your inventory to go on the Market, your post will still be up and you can still bump it anytime you want. From there, I have to decide how I want to try to trade the hat. If I'm looking for money and don't care/don't have time to wear it in game, the Market is the right choice. If I don't have a lot of time for trade servers but don't want to put it on the Market, I will make a bunch of direct trade offers before work and hope I come home to a trade. If I'm going to be home and playing TF2, I might still make some direct offers, but I'll want the hat in my inventory so I can wear it when I advertise it. Don't be afraid to paint an unusual a nice color if it's going to help you sell it faster. Buy the cheapest pain that makes it look nice and show it off!

Photo Gallery - Some of the unusuals, new and old, that I have owned over the years

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Common Scam Tactics

There are many types of scammers out there, and I'd like to give you a word of advice to avoid falling victim to something major. The first type of scam you need to be wary of is phishing. Have you ever had someone add you and say something along the lines of "please add my friend" and proceed to give you a link to a website called steam-corn-munity.com? These are phishing links, and they are generated to look exactly like Steam's website, all the way through the login page. Only your credentials don't go to Valve, they get sent, in plaintext, to the person trying to scam you. To avoid this, don't follow a website link from someone you don't fully trust. You should also have 2-step verification set up on your Steam account, and use a different email password. You're not really protecting yourself if you're using the same password for everything. I recommend having a unique password for your email; that way if your Steam or any other online account is ever compromised, your entire online identity isn't at risk.

Another way people try to scam others in the unusual market is by switching out their unusual hat for a unique one. While this is obvious if there are only 2 items in the trade, it gets a little trickier to keep track of the items that are up for trade when you're adding multiple items from your inventory and the person swaps out somewhere in between you adding items. The scammer, in this case, often asks for extra crates at the end of a deal and swaps out. Always take time to scroll over items of importance to make sure they are what you expect them to be (the effect you want, non-gifted, etc.)

And finally, always be wary of those that add you to offer. Not everyone is trying to scam you outright, but if the person is in a hurry to trade and you're feeling pressured, you may just be in over your head. If the trader doesn't give you a chance to think, it's probably not a good idea to take the trade. Some people are naturally good at putting pressure on others to make trades, and it's okay to pass up what seems like a good deal now and then if you're put on the defensive. Ask for some time to think about it and do some price checks. If the trader refuses you time, refuse the trade. Nobody is in that much of a hurry to get rid of an unusual.

New Effects vs Old Effects

Some of the new effects look fresh and sexy at first, but tread with caution when entering that side of the market. Prices tend to be quite dynamic, and as more are unboxed (and unboxed quickly), the value of the newest effects will take a nosedive. It takes experience and great care to tread successfully in this part of the market, so if you don't have a good feel for the new effects, it's okay to just not trade for them at all. Wait for the dust to settle in a month or two, then come back and make a safer trade.

If you do find yourself with a brand new effect, trade it quickly unless it's top-tier. The best effects tend to retain their values for a little longer and you can usually sell them for what they're worth. Mid-to-Low-tier effects should be sold as soon as possible though, as they will be more commonly unboxed and lose value as a result.

Duped Hats? Does it Matter?!?!

The answer to this is... well, it depends. Personally, knowing my hat is duplicated doesn't bother me in the slightest. But know that if you're trading for a hat with a long and shady history, there are traders out there that will refuse to trade fairly with you. It's good to know whether the hat you're trading for is duped so you have a better idea how difficult it is to sell. Many traders prey on duped hats, though, and sell for huge profit. I've had people add me and aggressively claim my hat is worth 50% of its value because it's duplicated. Your hat is not worth 50% of its value if it's duplicated. If you find yourself in a situation where someone is bargaining with you because your hat is duped, I find it easiest to simply state once that duplication doesn't bother you. It's not like it comes up when someone looks at your item in-game. Your hat isn't marked or scarred in any way. Valve isn't going to mass-delete all duplicated hats. The only way to really tell a hat is duped is to look at the history on Outpost or another online resource that tracks item history. Duplication can be ignored, but it can also be marketed in or against your favor. It really depends on what kind of trader you are. Personally, I ignore it in low-mid tier unusuals, but may take it into account for high-tier trading where the stakes are higher.

Themed Unusuals

I'm sure most of you reading this have heard of unusuals having "themes," but how can you tell if a theme is real? When in doubt, if the theme isn't obvious, it's not a theme. Engie hats with Nuts & Bolts tend to be worth a little more than other class hats with Nuts and Bolts. Makes sense, right? The Engineer is a mechanic and works with wrenches and screws, nuts & bolts. But that means Hearts are themed for Medic and Burning Flames for Pyro, right? Kind of. In the case of the Pyro, Burning Flames is already among the highest-tier hats, so it's hard to figure the theme is giving Pyro a huge price boost. Regardless of whether a hat is themed, you can get a feel for what it's worth using my price-checking method at the beginning of the article. If the prices don't reflect a theme, the hat simply doesn't have a relevant theme.

Levels, Paints, and Tags

Traders use any tactic possible to trade unusuals quickly and for profit, including advertising a unique level, painting it a nice color to make it look more appealing, and figuring out clever names to tag their hats with. But what works, and what should be ignored. From a value perspective, I would argue that all three of these should be ignored. I've never felt more inclined to buy an unusual because it was level 100, and if someone is asking you to add more because their hat is leveled, you should refuse. While paint and tags arguably don't add value to a hat, they can certainly make it easier to sell. Don't be afraid to add a little to your hat if you think it's going to help you push it out of your inventory a few days quicker.

Quickselling

An article about trading unusuals wouldn't be complete without mentioning quicksales. If you find yourself in a position where someone else's quicksell is preventing you from selling your hat at the price you want, you'll need to assess whether it's worth your time to match that price. You might miss out on some extra profit, but consider what you can get at the lower price compared to the hat you have now. If it's not worth your time, you might have to wait until the competing quicksell is sold. Whichever path you choose, stay firm in your decision.

From a buyer's perspective, you'll want to look for a good quicksell to enter the market. If I have 1 Bud, I typically look for a hat that's worth 1.3 Buds or more, so even if it loses value, it'll probably fall back down to where you started. This is an example of low-risk trading, and it is the safest way to make profit. If you stay in the 1-bud range with all of your hats, you can make quick, light profit without fear of losing big.

Conclusion

Now that you have a good idea of how I go about trading, you can choose which methods work for you and combine them with your own. If you find yourself hesitant about a trade, feel free to leave a comment in the space provided below and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. You can also join the Facebook Group that I started in one of my previous articles, where an active and friendly community is always willing to help you make the right decisions. That's all I have for you today! If you'd like to share your thoughts, strategies, stories, or just want to make a smart remark, get at me in the comments or Facebook group. See you around!

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