The domain investment business is very small, and because of that, most people within the industry know each other well or at least know of each other. Although most people work independently, there are times when working together can benefit all parties.
If I know someone is looking to acquire a particular type of name, I may personally reach out to that person if another acquaintance is selling a similar name. I don’t do it for a commission, rather, it’s out of courtesy to help two acquaintances make a mutually beneficial deal. Likewise, if I see something shady that may impact an acquaintance, I am quick to point it out, also as a courtesy, because I would hope for the same.
In an industry where thousands of dollars can be transfered for a domain name based on a few emails, honesty and trust is the most important thing. This is the most important lesson to heed in the domain business.
I haven’t been in this business for a long time, but I have seen my fair share of things that leave me shaking my head. Some people will do whatever it takes to advance, risking their own financial status and their reputation. Perhaps making an error in judgment once will be forgiven, but if it’s done more than once, others tend to believe it was more than just a simple error.
The domain investment industry can be fun and lucrative. If you are just starting out, remember that there are no shortcuts, and honesty and integrity are two of the most respected (and expected) qualities.
Indeed… having been involved (as a primary party) in multiple domain transactions (on eBay, the popular forums, as well as totally private direct from email/whois searches) I have always done a bit of due diligence on my buyer/sellers.
In general I have extended the courtesy of trust; foregoing Escrow and other third party fees (other than Paypal / banks) where possible.
Of course, there are many cases where someone tries to pull a fast one…
As you so eloquently said in your closing: honesty and integrity are the key qualities in this business!
Can you give us an example (without naming names if you like) of something improper or unethical you’ve seen in the domain name industry?
For several years, as you said, it was a handshake (a term used for the weird sound modems make when connecting) and the buyer’s and seller’s word. Whether that was ever smart is doubtful, but with the tools available today there’s just no reason.
On domain names under $1K, payment in advance using Paypal is my standard offering. Anything over $1K I require to go through Escrow.com, allowing the fees to be deducted from my proceeds. It’s a negligible expense, with the cost for a $35K sale being only $312. And, besides having a nice professional ring to it, having a licensed and accredited escrow company process your transactions will increase the buyers comfort level and DRASTICALLY reduce your exposure to frauds and scammers.
On a different note, I would like to let your readers be the first to know that I have set up 404ads.com as a domain name classifieds for anyone to use free. It’s a bit clunky, but there’s no commercial advertising on it and it’s free.
Have you not ever seen some version of the solicitation where a “potential buyer” will motivate a domain name owner to get an apprasial for the basis of a purchase price?
You are told you have to get an appraisal from a specific service. But after the appraisal is purchased the potential buyer decides your name is too expensive for them.
Of course, it’s common knowledge that some of the top registrars change the DNS and registrant information on customer domain names during their expiration grace period.
And God only knows what lurks behind some of deals reported by auction and sale sites out there – let alone the “private sales”.
I’m with Elliot on the head shaking.