Before Buying Expiring Domain Names, Be a Sleuth

I buy many domain names at NameJet, and on occasion I bid on names at SnapNames. I think there are some good values out there, especially when you manage to find a name that has few bidders.

One thing I think is important is to do some research on the previous owner to try and figure out some things about the domain name to determine if it’s worth buying (in addition to keyword research). By looking at the Whois history and doing a bit of additional research, you can uncover some possible reasons for why it’s expiring:

  • Owner felt it wasn’t worth renewing
  • Registrant no longer with the company (or alive)
  • Email address no valid and not receiving emails about the domain name expiry
  • Forgot about owning the domain name
  • Legal reason

Now let’s discuss why this information is important. There’s a big difference between someone intentionally letting the name expire vs. someone who doesn’t realize the name is expiring. In the first case, if a person didn’t think it was worth renewing, I probably won’t make money on it. For instance, if BuyDomains lets a name drop, it’s probably not worth buying. Knowing the previous owner and drop reason can help in this regard.

If a domain name is accidentally not renewed, for instance, an email address doesn’t work or the registrant no longer works for the company, there could be potential with the domain name. Perhaps it’s worth something to someone else if the company didn’t think enough of it to safeguard it. That is usually a good sign for a domain name’s value when it’s coming up for auction.

You can learn quite a bit about why a domain name is dropping just by examining its history. That can tell you whether or not you should invest money in the domain name or if you should leave it alone and let someone else buy it.

I spend quite a bit of time doing keyword research, but I also spend time trying to figure out why it was dropped by the owner and what I can make of that insight.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the 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. Very informative although i’d like to imagine that if anyone is investing money in domains, they have atleast 2/3 of these points in mind…

    At any rate, how do you all feel about the ethics of snapping up 5+ year old small biz domains?

  2. No renewal, no domain. You just have to know how to be gentle with some of these small biz owners. Monthly payments, Jersey style 😉

  3. Well I have not had a good experience buying expired domains on one of the auction sites. I bid on a domain, was the winning bidder, name was transferred in my name and suddenly after 30 odd days I received a notice that the domain was being taken away from me! Surprised I asked why and I was told that the previous owner decided to renew his domain again. When I mentioned how the domain could be transferred once its in my name – I was asked to read the TOS which state that they can take the domain before, during or after auctions! Hence, I even approached ICAAN who simply transferred the case to the domain registrar and they did nothing. Hence, after having started promotions, printing business cards, etc. when the domain was taken away it resulted in losses to me but the auction company says its their policy and if you want to participate in the auctions you agree to these policies and terms!

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