Domain brokers are an important part of the domain industry, and there are many fantastic brokers whose dealmaking skills bring revenue to domain owners. When using a broker or brokerage service though, I recommend using a third party escrow service such as Escrow.com, Afternic’s escrow service, or Sedo’s escrow to be an intermediary, and I’ll share a few reasons why this might be a wise idea.
Keep brokers honest
I’ve heard stories about brokers allegedly taking money off the top when closing deals on behalf of domain sellers. For instance, if I told a broker I want $50,000 for ElliotsBlog.com and a broker tells me he has a $40,000 offer, if he’s in the middle of the deal, he might actually have sold it for $50k and pocketed the remainder. If you work with a third party, the sales price will be transparent.
Ensure swift payment
After I transfer a name to a buyer or to a broker, I expect to be paid ASAP. There would be no reason for the broker to keep the buyer’s funds any longer than it takes to set up a wire transfer online (or get to the bank to do it in person) once the domain name is transferred to the buyer. With a third party escrow service, once the domain name is in the buyer’s possession, your funds are released.
Licensed, insured, and bonded
Generally speaking, US-based escrow services are licensed by state regulators, insured, and bonded. You don’t have to worry about them running off with your money and your domain name. When dealing with an unprofessional broker, you may give up the domain name and not receive the funds and you don’t have much leverage, especially if they aren’t based in the same jurisdiction as you (and litigation is probably very expensive).
I don’t see why a domain broker would have an issue using a third party escrow service to facilitate a domain sale. If they are concerned about their commission payment, you can ask them to have the buyer pay that directly and take it out of your payment.
Using an escrow service makes for a cleaner transaction and can ensure fairness for all parties.
This is probably the single best piece of advice you could ever pass along.
great post Elliot,
this is something a lot of people, me included, would not have figured out by themselves until after they experienced first hand a difficult brokerage deal. Hopefully this will save a lot of people future hardship.
Andrew Rosener brokered a deal on my behalf a couple of weeks ago, and he suggested using Escrow.com for the deal. I think it makes things more transparent and it can help ease any anxiety the buyer or seller may have.
As a seller, it might be troubling to send someone $100,000 cash for “escrow,” especially if the broker isn’t licensed. Imagine if the funds got held up by the bank, IRS, or other creditor. That would be no good.
Elliot, I think I would take this post more seriously if an Escrow ad weren’t splashed on your page.
There are no guarantees with Escrow; one can still lose a domain to a determined scammer (chargeback, etc.). From what I understand, Escrow does not get involved in transfer/chargeback disputes.
A scammer can change Whois info without actually transferring a domain from his/her account, and Whois info is what Escrow uses to determine ownership.
Will Escrow protect its customer from a scammer?
I prefer Sedo. Never have had a problem with them.
“Elliot, I think I would take this post more seriously if an Escrow ad weren’t splashed on your page.”
@ Ms. Domainer
It’s a small industry, and those company’s advertisements are the only reason I am still willing to share my insight and advice on a regular basis. I can think of a lot of better things to do with my time 🙂
That said, I added a third service (Sedo) to the recommended third party escrow services for some variety. I tend to stick with Escrow.com since the company has supported my blog for many years, I’ve never had any issues using them, and they are recommend by a variety of large companies like Ebay and Cars.com.
Eliot said “As a seller, it might be troubling to send someone $100,000 cash for “escrow,” especially if the broker isn’t licensed. Imagine if the funds got held up by the bank, IRS, or other creditor. That would be no good.”
I guess that rules out eCop.com then
Since the are NOT licensed nor bonded in ANY juridiction anywhere
I guess it depends on the dollar amount and where the buyer and seller are located.
I don’t know foreign rules and regulations.
Is it just me or does anyone else think the name ecop just sounds stupid, unprofessional, the name turns me off from the service, which based on the domainer backing it, would seem to setup very well, and does arrange for some unique payment scenarios.
Work with a broker you know or know about. Talk on the phone and ask questions then trust him/he.
However, if the client does not need to be anonymous, then I absolutely recommend escrow.com. If they buyer needs to be anonymous, I close the transaction directly or via escrow.com then move the domain to the client.
I provide a screen shot of the escrow.com page to verify the amount of the transaction, other party, escrow.com # etc.
I have never used another escrow service unless I was the buyer or seller at sedo or afternic.
Escrow.com has been advertising on many blogger sites these past years so it’s normal in a business point of view that bloggers give him some preference. As he outlined, this industry is so small… plus Elliot is not a journalist, he only talk about what he uses and knows, and it’s already great from him to share his experience.
FYI, ECOP.com that was not referenced in this post escrows the domains and the money.
Moniker escrow service also deserved to be referenced.
Personally I find Sedo escrow extremely expensive compared with all the others.
I don’t want to go to the jail, we only provide services that are legal.
Like you I simply work hard to try to make a living and build something family can be proud.
ECOP.com is up for one year now and nobody never lost money after thousands transactions. We had to deal with an identity usurpation issue the first month. The seller lost $7K that I given him back from my own pockets even if ECOP was not responsable the customer had his email hacked. This leaded to a serie of measures to fight this growing plague, so today (of what I know) we are the first/only escrow service that can pretend having strong measures to fight “identity usurpation”. I guess the other escrow services will implement them also in the future.
Find a great name it’s not easy, I did my best as you may imagine. Plus you know as me that names can be very expensive so you cannot always get the one you prefer. On Domainware.com there is a post where I explain how and why ecop.com was selected. And if it was not enough, have everybody like it is impossible. I am really sorry you find it so horrible.
Now I must admit we got more people complaining about the old site design (SWAT) then complaining about the name.
For info, there is no need to use a broker if the only motivation is to be anonymous.
ECOP.com allows to secure private (identity revealed when the transaction is completed) or totally anonymous (identity never revealed) domain transactions.
Francois what laws/jurisdiction is ecop under and what registrar do you own that you are using to escrow the domain names too ?
would you use escrow if you were leasing? i.e you were receiving scheduled monthly payments?
Thanks in advance!
Depends on the value of the deal.
I don’t really know if there’s an escrow service made for simply leasing domain names. Escrow.com has a payment plan option, but it’s not made for leasing (ie non-ownership change).
Escrow.com also has a new service that allows a broker to make the deal between two parties. He can set it up as confidential, transparent to both parties, or transparent to just one party. There are several restrictions but it basically allows a broker to control who sees the transaction details [purchase price, seller’s proceeds, contact information, and broker commission]. I just used this service for the first time on the closing of ChristianDating.com and it went very smoothly.
The ability sort of nullifies some of the advantages that Elliot pointed out in this post though since a buyer/seller potentially are in the dark depending on how the transaction is setup.