10 Reasons Why Valuable Domain Names Expire

Flabbergasted, someone asked “why would anyone let their valuable domain name expire?” It’s a good question, and there are many reasons for why this happens. Based on my own research over the years, I thought I would share 10 reasons for why people and companies let valuable domain names expire and sell for a lot of money at auction venues like NameJet and GoDaddy.

10 reasons why valuable domain names expire:

  • Whois and/or contact email address is not updated. The registrant misses the renewal and expiry emails so the domain name expires. This issue can be exacerbated by inaccurate phone number and/or contact details preventing investors from getting in touch with the registrant to try and buy it before auction.
  • Death. Morbidly, I have won domain names in auction that had been owned by someone who died. Their family may not have known about the domain names or may not have cared about them,
  • Corporate acquisition. When a company acquires another company, it might lose track of domain names owned by the company it is buying.
  • Bankruptcy. When a company goes out of business, they may not be able to pay for renewals, or the domain names may get overlooked.
  • Company shuts down. When a company closes up shop, the owners may not look at the domain names as valuable assets and simply let them expire.
  • Litigation. There may be some type of litigation that either prevents the domain name from being renewed or disincentivizes someone from renewing it. I recently asked someone about a domain name that was heading to auction, and the former registrant told me he had no idea what was going on with the domain name because it was lost due to a corporate lawsuit.
  • Domain manager was fired or quit. This may relate to the first reason, but if the person responsible for domain name renewals or management leaves the company, the domain name renewals may be overlooked.
  • Ignored renewal emails. We are all bombarded with marketing and/or spam emails. Some people don’t do a great job of catching up with their emails, and their renewal emails may be lost or overlooked.
  • Don’t want to make the effort. This seems silly, but sometimes there are hoops to jump through for a renewal to happen and the company doesn’t feel like making any effort to renew the domain name, especially if it is in some sort of redemption period.
  • Do not need the domain name anymore. This is probably a large company issue, but some companies let their domain names expire when they are no longer needed, and there is nobody to quarterback the sale of a domain name (either by choice or by default). If I want to buy a one word .com from a massive company that has many divisions, there is very little incentive (or none) for an employee to try and facilitate the sale. Even if I would pay $25,000 for a domain name, the employee gets nothing and has no P&L that would benefit. They don’t need the name either, so it just expires.

For many years, registrants of valuable domain names have been contacted by domain investors to try and buy their expired domain names before auction. I wrote about this a while ago. This means there are typically mitigating reasons for why a valuable domain name can make it through the expiry cycle and end up selling in auction.

I am sure there are other reasons for why domain names expire and get auctioned for a lot of money. I invite you to share some of the reasons you have heard about over the years. I am sure there are plenty of interesting stories.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. # 11, ok so a variation of #1. Domain Name owner bought the name on auction and transferred to Godaddy. Godaddy keeps old contacts, as we all know from receiving renewal messages for names we don’t own. Used to happen at BuyDomains also. Creates a pretty unhappy customer.

  2. When domains expire at Uniregistry, the TOS allows them to cherry-pick from your account (taking your recently expired domain) if they want to… the “grace period” is at the option of the company, on a case by case basis. The exact language reads :

    “In the event that you fail to renew your domain name prior to its expiration, your registration will expire as of its expiration date and we may, at our discretion, elect to assume the registration and may hold it for our own account, delete it or transfer it to a third party. You acknowledge and agree that your right and interest in a domain name ceases upon its expiration and that any expired domain name may be made available for registration or transfer to another party.

    If we have elected to maintain the domain name beyond expiration, we will provide you with a grace period of forty (40) days during which you may renew the domain name. During the last ten days of this grace period, an additional late renewal fee may apply, as listed at uniregistry.com/pricing. Also during this grace period, we may assign nameserver designations for the domain name, revise the registration data to indicate the domain name is in an expired status, and select content accessible via the domain name. The domain name also may be listed and promoted as available for auction. If the name is sold during any such auction, it will be acquired by the prevailing party and will not remain available for renewal by you after our stated grace period.”

    So, hopefully none of the inadvertent life situations effect Uniregistry customers, particularly ones whose accounts don’t let Uniregistry automatically renew their domains. Otherwise, they might be SOL before there is time to remedy the situation.

    Domainers beware…

  3. As someone who has worked brokerage, the most common stories I’ve seen were Domain manager (or IT, web design firm) was fired or quit and registrant Ignored renewal emails.

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