Mints, Buy Now, Make An Offer, and Auctions
When it comes to buying NFTs, there are several ways you can acquire them – minting, buying off the secondary market, making an offer, or participating in an auction. Each of these has its tradeoffs, and every option has the chance to make you good profits, so don't write them off too quickly.
Minting refers to the primary direct purchase of an NFT from the creator i.e. you buy it at launch.
Given the hype around NFTs, buying at launch usually means getting a significant discount, especially if that particular project has been very successful with previous launches. Imagine copping the latest Yeezys or Hypebeast drops, minting is the equivalent of that.
Some people have even build a strategy around minting the latest hyped project, and reselling it quickly. However, not every mint can be profitable, especially during an NFT bear market. If for some reason, the project screws up its launch (extremely common), which results in a very unfair distribution, prices can dip sharply as people lose faith in the project. If there is a lack of hype and the mints are not sold out, prices will also be unlikely to appreciate while paper hands rush to sell them at a discount.
The best example is in Solana NFTs. During the boom, all sold-out mints could fetch an immediate 1.5X to 2X return minimally. Yet, with the NFT bear market that scared many speculators, the actual demand of SOL NFTs have dropped, and new mints most likely will drop below their mint prices.
Nevertheless, minting usually offers the best value because it is a primary purchase.
The most common sales you see are Buy Now purchases on marketplaces like OpenSea and Rarible. This can either be a resale, or a creator who launched their project on the marketplace and offer it at Buy-Now price.
The term literally means to pay that price to own the NFT immediately. There's no need for bargaining; what you pay is what you get.
Although secondary sales or purchasing Buy Now usually means you are late to the game and thus have to settle for that price, it can still offer tremendous upside. Case in point, the first NFT I bought at 1.5E was minted at 0.5E, but I chose to buy it because of the value I saw in it, and it went on to appreciate to the upside. I've also bought Buy Now items that I really like on OpenSea or Rarible.
What experienced resellers would suggest though is to Make An Offer instead of Buy Now, and successful flippers swear by that strategy.
Making an offer particularly refers to you giving a price below the Buy Now price. On OpenSea, Buy-Now price is denoted by the black Ethereum logo, while offered prices are denoted by the red Ethereum logo (it uses wETH, or wrapped ETH).
To successfully buy via making an offer, it hinges on one thing – the seller willing to let go below his asking price. This could be because he's desperate to make a sale e.g. he needs the ETH liquidity for an upcoming drop, or he does not see the value you see in that project/NFT.
Immediately after PFP projects are revealed, savvy buyers will be able to spot the rare ones from the common ones. This is where they will try to make a bid on these rare, and try to profit off the information asymmetry of less experienced NFT owners. Making an offer allows them to capture a bargain, and then realise the value by selling it later at an accurate Buy Now price.
Another advantage of making offers is that you can use the same wETH to make multiple offers. For example, if you have only 1ETH in your Metamask wallet, you can make 10 bids of 1ETH on 10 different items – the moment one of the offers get accepted, the rest will fall through. In the case of savvy snipers – this is how they spread out their liquidity over a project, bidding on multiple rare items and hoping for a handful to be accepted by unsuspecting owners.
Having said that, this is something that has to come with more experience i.e. after you've gone through at least five launches.
Auctions are when items are put up for sale, and everyone can make the bid. However, there are several types of auctions and it's important to note the nuances of auctions.
Artwork sold on Foundation are 1/1. Artists have to set a reserve price, which when met, kickstarts a 24-Hour Auction. This is a 24-Hour countdown timer. During the last 15 minutes of the auction, any new bids will reset the countdown timer back to 15 minutes, so an auction can stretch beyond that and a bid war can go on for hours.
For that to happen, there must usually be several interested buyers. So if you're an artist trying to maximise the sale price of your artwork, try to have several collectors lined up for that auction before you list it.
Dutch auctions are a reverse auction format. There's a start price and a floor price, and every time interval of say 5 minutes, the price drops by an amount until it is sold or it hits the floor price.
Gary Vaynerchuk's VeeFriends sold on a dutch auction basis. Prices started at around 3 ETH (varies across pieces) and dropped to the floor of 0.5ETH (on most), and did not sell out until several days later. With what he's delivered to VeeFriends NFT owners, prices are northwards of 10ETH today.
BAYC's second series Mutant Ape Yacht Club (MAYC) also famously had a public sale of 10,000 MAYC dropped via dutch auction. Price started at 3 ETH, and it was sold out by the time it hit 2.7ETH – it never hit the floor price. This is because demand was so insanely hyped up, and people were willing to fork out thousands of dollars in transactions fees back then.
Boonji Project similarly launched in this format, with 7,777 avatars starting at 3.3ETH and dropping to a floor of 0.3ETH. Although there was high demand for this project, it did not sell out until it neared the lower bound of around 0.35 ETH.
Dutch auctions are exciting to watch because it plays a lot of market psychology. If all participants cooperated, they could collectively pay lesser for the same product. Yet, the possibility of making quick gains pushes people to take action earlier to not miss out, and that itself end up rewarding the project owner and costing buyers more.
Multi-Items Collection Time-based Auctions
Foundation auctions are essentially what we call time-based auction – an auction set to expire within a certain time, with a timer that resets with every new bid.
Some collections launches multiple items concurrently via auctions, and it creates yet another competition amongst bidders. Most bidders know to wait for the final minutes to make their bids, but here's where it becomes interesting.
Given a big collection of 20 items, there are very popular items and less popular ones. Savvy bidders will put medium to low bids on the less popular ones and leave them to run. Given that the auction all times to end at the same time, the final 15 minutes (10 minutes on some) will draw attention to all the popular pieces.
Remember, if there's no new bid in the last 10/15 minutes the timer will not reset – this is when some of the less popular pieces get bought up for medium-low bids. Collectors wanting to own the best pieces turn their attention to the popular ones, and that is where the bidding war ensues. The result is that some medium to less popular pieces get bought cheaply without a bidding war, and the popular pieces get bid up desperately by collectors who have failed to make any purchases.
If there is any takeaway from this piece. it's to recognise that:
There is no best way to buy your NFTs – each one has its tradeoffs
Be familiar with auctions before getting into them
There is an opportunity when there is information asymmetry, be it recognising the rarer items, finding value in secondary markets, or simply knowing the auction/bidding systems
Take your time to find the NFTs you like, and prepare yourself adequately if you're going into an auction. ETH transactions can have exorbitant gas fees that end up costing you a lot, so try to learn from every experience.