Don’t Tell Me You Have a Small Budget

“I am interested in buying your domain name but have a small budget”

One of my big pet peeves when dealing with a prospective buyer is when they open an inquiry by telling me they have a small budget. I understand that they are at least trying to set my expectations at a low level, but I find this quite annoying and sometimes won’t even reply when this is one of the first things mentioned.

I have read various articles advising domain buyers to tell domain owners that they are students, working for a non-profit, looking to start a small business…etc. in an effort to get a better price. When I receive an inquiry with that type of language, I almost immediately write it off.

I understand that this is probably a tactic to get a lower price, but I don’t want to deal with students with low budgets or people pretending to be students with low budgets. In either case, it’s probably just going to waste my time. I don’t buy domain names in the aftermarket to sell them inexpensively.

When trying to buy what is clearly a valuable domain name, I think buyers will have better luck being honest than lying and immediately being written off. I don’t know of any domain owner who receives an email from a “student” and thinks that they are going to give them a better deal than someone else. Perhaps this approach works sometimes, especially when it comes to less valuable domain names, but it most likely won’t work when it comes to better domain names.

Owners of valuable domain names likely receive dozens of inquiries annually for individual domain names. Domain owners are more likely to negotiate with someone they believe is negotiating in good faith, and the “poor student” approach is passe and perhaps risky even.

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. Do they ever mention they have a large budget? 😀

    Serious buyers place an offer, or seek a price without predetermining the response of the domain owner.

    Incidentally, that’s another reason DNS needs to get rid of the reference to “free quote”, it implies a low or discounted price.

    • The free quote ref is horrible, a few times the potential buyer has simply stated we were promised a free quote, and they are just kicking tires, wrong 2 words, truly

    • OMG, thank you. I’m sure it’s been said before, but please, say it again, and keep saying it. I hate that “free quote”. I’m sure it’s great if you have brokers handling every inquiry, but it’s incredibly irritating. I was screwing around w/ the “for sale” banner, deliberating on adding a “cash offer required” clause. Similarly, I believe you can alter the response email they receive. So something along those lines, can be included (could be wrong). Granted, it’s something I’d prefer not to have to say, than say. Additionally, no prospective buyer ever seems to give a sh1+ about that “minimum offer” though either. Time wasting.

    • If I was a broker looking for a lead and had a bunch of traffic that could be leads, the words FREE QUOTE are the perfect hook to convert a greater percentage of those leads to calls/emails . It’s then up to me to sell them something. This works out quite well for a broker who just wants a lead. It may not in your best interest really but they probably could care less.

  2. I just take it as part of the negotiation. Of course the interested party does not want a domain owner to even get the scent that their domain is valuable to someone, and they want to obtain the domain at a price as close to regfee as possible. I treat the ‘teacher’/’student’ that is inquiring about my domain, just like I would treat the fortune 500 company or flourishing startup. It’s a shame that businesses still approach us with this ‘dumb squatter’ mentality, maybe interested buyers are starting to realize that most serious domain investors are well versed in TM, URDP, DCMA, and how much their property is actually worth.

  3. I once had someone who was a recent college graduate contact me about a domain name . He didn’t have much money and I wouldn’t lower the price. He wanted 30 days to find the money. I agreed with to hold the name for him. Just before the thirty days he contacted me and said that he had found the money and that a college friend was going to partner with him to build a business with the name but would need about 10 more days to pay. I waited 10 days and he paid about $3500 for a name I had less than $50 in. I have found more than once that people who contact me about a name they really want given a little time can find the money. Many of them just need to understand the real value in the domain name.

  4. Other than “student” & “start-up” budget approach I also receive “blog” approach. Their intent to use the keyword domain name for a blog site and they got only limited budget. Now I have put all my domains on DomainNameSales and I am okay to pay broker commission.

  5. I also received offers and they want to use my domain for school assignments…..I told them its ok…. my domain is min. five figures and you need your school master to get the funding …and its all yours…lol

  6. If the person does actually have a small budget it may well be a good approach, tell the seller from the outset not to have high expectations. For the those sellers who don’t reply to those emails that is probably because a sale is highly unlikely. If you reply or don’t reply it makes no difference to the outcome.

    In short, if us domains don’t like it that strategy it could well be a good one to use. Domainers (me included) hate anything which suggests it is not Microsoft on the other end of the email.

  7. I once had a buyer claim she was a veteran representing an organization to help veterans and wanted a name for a book she was writing. She even wrote via a helpveterans email address at one of the free services. During the negotiation I received an inquiry for the same name from a company. Turned out both inquiries were from the same place.

  8. Legitimate students don’t need a premium domain for their school projects.

    And while I agree that it’s all part of the negotiation, personally I always recommend “students” and other free-rollers to register the name in a secondary extension.

  9. I agree with the approach of treating all inquiries the same. Simply assume the worst – that the person inquiring may be lying, etc., and proceed with the same valuation you would for a big company, if you want to proceed at all.

  10. I’ve given domains away for free to friends and people I’ve met, and they’ve taken these domains and built sites/companies worth $millions — valuations over $50 million. In return, they help out with technology, etc on my own product builds.

    What I detest more than anything — parties approaching me, wishing to acquire one of my domains on a “limited budget”, as they are a small organization.

    I made the mistake of selling a few domains, below value, to these parties:

    Included among these phony buyers: MD Anderson (giant cancer center), the largest tablet company in the world, Walt Disney, and more —

    I understand the brokers make a bigger commission by getting a lower than price the buyer really will offer —

    As my Uncle Sam advised me when I was starting my business, “trust nobody, except maybe your mom and your dad” Sad, but true

  11. It is part of the game and business. If someone comes with an excuse or something implying they can’t pay a lot. You can ignore them or reply with a min amount you’ll accept. Easiest is to just ignore.

    Of course people won’t say what their budget is either.

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