Buying Domain Names

“Would You Sell…” is a Fishing Expedition

When someone emails to ask, “would you sell X for $xx,xxx?” I look at as a fishing expedition. Some may also call it tire kicking, but people who ask about buying a domain name at a certain price are usually more interested in fishing for the right number rather than simply kicking the tires on a domain name. I know this because I sometimes do it when I am trying to buy a domain name.

Asking “would you sell…” is non-committal. If the domain registrant replies affirmatively, the person who inquired can say something like “I will get back to you.” This is contrasted with a direct offer that is something like “I would like to offer you $xx,xxx to buy X.” If the domain registrant agrees, that is pretty much like a handshake deal from my perspective.

Info I Share in My Inquiry Email Signature

When I inquire about buying a domain name, I do so through my email address. The recipient of my email may have never heard of before, but I believe there is some level of authority and trust with the brand name. Establishing trust is important to getting a deal done. I think emailing from my email is much better than from my email address.

In my standard purchase inquiry email, I include several pieces of information to further establish trust with the recipient. The information is passively included in my signature, and I think it helps to give background about me and show that I am a credible buyer should a deal be made. The information I include in my signature:

Ownership Verification Still Stinks on Sales Platforms

If you look at the major domain name sales platforms, you will likely come across listings that aren’t legitimate. Sometimes a domain owner makes a typo when listing a domain name for sale, sometimes a domain owner has already sold a domain name and didn’t remove a listing, and other times people are simply messing around for whatever reason and list domain names they do not own. Domain name ownership verification still stinks on many platforms.

GDPR and Whois privacy are two issues that may cause verification issues. I believe most platforms have alternative methods of proving ownership though. In the case of domain names that were once owned by someone who listed a domain name for sale but later sold, I think it’s a pretty big challenge for sales platforms to be able to check the Whois or DNS records on millions of domain names every day to be sure listings remain valid.

Due Diligence with a Phone Call

I noticed a domain name in auction recently that looked funky to me. The domain name was very old, had been unlocked and relocked without transfer, and it had an active website on it. Put simply, I found it peculiar that the domain name was listed for sale in an auction. Before I placed a bid, I needed to get confirmation that the listing was legitimate.

There have been plenty of times where something about an auction looked off, but it turned out to be legitimate. There have probably been more times where something looked off and it was either a fake listing, a case of theft, or something else that made the auction problematic. If I can prevent it, I would rather hold off on placing a binding bid than have to deal with a problem later.

10 Recent Minimum Bid Purchases This Year

Yesterday I wrote about why I think expiry auction prices have grown inflated over the past few years. This has made it more challenging for me to buy good inventory quality domain names at reasonable prices. It seems like the days of buying a good name under $100 are pretty much long gone.

It’s not impossible to find good domain names in expiry auctions that have no competition, but it is quite a bit harder. In fact, in years past, I would stay up to the NameJet bid deadline when I found what appeared to be undetected gems that I might be able to poach without other bidders if I waited until the last minute. I can’t even remember the last time I did that (although the bid deadline is an hour later –  midnight – for me).

Doing the Legwork to Check Investment Viability

Hedge funds and private investors that invest serious amounts of money in publicly traded companies have many tactics to understand how a company is performing before financial reports are given. People are hired to count cars in parking lots, check inventory on retail sales floors, ask employees of suppliers for production details, and a variety of other means to ascertain non-public information. Domain investors should consider a similar strategy using different tactics.

I am not an investor in non .com domain names. That should be pretty obvious. Despite this, I am emailed regularly asking me for thoughts on buying new gTLD domain names. I believe investors would benefit from doing end user market analysis to check their investment viability. This is important for domain names, but it could also be done for the non-blue chip .coms (one word, 3/4 letter…etc), too. People should understand the market before investing thousands of dollars in speculative domain names.

Here’s what I would do if I was going to the legwork to evaluate investment viability for a type of domain name I was unsure about:

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