It’s pretty easy for someone to claim to be a domain broker. There aren’t any special licenses or other requirements for someone to sell domain names on behalf of others. An email address or phone number and some domain name listings are basically all it takes to get started.
It seems that some people may take advantage of the ease of getting started and try to sell domain names they aren’t permitted to sell. Perhaps they see a domain name listed for sale somewhere or believe the domain name may be for sale, and they attempt to broker the domain name without permission. I presume the belief is that if they come to the domain owner with a buyer, they will be rewarded a commission. This is bad business.
Even if a domain name is listed for sale, approaching certain prospective buyers could put the domain owner in a vulnerable position. There may be trademark issues that wouldn’t exist unless the trademark owner is approached with a solicitation to buy the domain name. There may also be back history between the prospective buyer and the domain owner that a third party wouldn’t know about. Whatever the case, having a cavalier attitude about selling someone else’s domain name without permission is wrong.
Many domain owners are willing to give people a shot at selling their domain names. Some of the best domain brokers aren’t interested in trying to sell mid tier domain names when there is a large inventory of expensive domain names at their disposal. This leaves quite a large market for an upstart to make a go at brokering. However, permission is critical.
If you want to get into the domain brokering business, it is not advisable to try and sell someone else’s domain name without permission. It could put the domain owner at risk and it could put the broker at risk for a bad reputation and perhaps more serious consequences.
Great post, Elliot!
If you don’t want to sell your domain, why list it at all? Talk of trademark, why would you buy a trademark domain? Isn’t that bad business as well? The trademark owner will sooner or later find out with or without interference from a broker.
Absolutely, I see nothing wrong in someone bringing a buyer for a domain you have listed for sale…permission or no permission.
Thank you for sharing.
Here is a completely hypothetical example to illustrate the danger:
Let’s say a domain investor owns ABC.com and has it parked with educational links for alphabet puzzles. That would certainly seem like fair usage, despite the trademarks.
However, it would be very unwise to approach the broadcasting company to sell them this domain name. They would probably use a solicitation email in a UDRP filing or lawsuit to show bad faith (trying to profit from their trademarks). I presume the owner could defend his right to own it, especially if the contact was unauthorized, but that would be expensive.
I don’t buy obvious trademarks where there is one trademark owner (or typo domain names). However, just about every keyword has trademarks associated with them, and a brand would be happy to use a solicitation to sell a domain name as evidence of bad faith, even if the domain owner did not authorize the communication.
I agree with that. Thank you
This a terrible way to launch a brokering business or any business for that matter.
How someone thinks brokering names without permission is professional is beyond me.
Anyway, smart brokering is first finding a buyer who buys domain names and then going out and finding sellers for them.
Tracy Fogarty from enaming is listing people’s domains without their permission. The problem has been pointed out to her, but nothing has been done about it. Extremely unethical. It has been written about at NamePros and other blogs.
You can check to see if your domains are being listed there by replacing your domain in the following example.
Here’s an article from DomainCrunch. DomainInvesting.com was previously listed on her site, although that appears to have been removed. Yet thousands of other domains remain on the site without permission.
Whoa. So these domains that say “Make Offer” are just being “auto generated” and are unauthorized listings??
Plus the program on there appears to be using well known domains for SEO purposes that say “unavailable”. That’s not cool to be doing either.
Many of my domains (and probably yours) are on there unauthorized. Plus it states a minimum offer of $10,000. These unauthorized listings also show up in search engine results.
As mentioned in the DomainCrunch article, this brings up a lot of issues such as your domains that require exclusivity (ex: BrandBucket), UDRP concerns, etc. You also have businesses whose domains are listed (and the domains nor businesses are for sale) so imagine how bad that looks should that business customers reach the enaming listing page.
The bottom line is that it is unethical. Tracy has been made aware of this practice, yet it continues.
I do understand your point in selling a name without permission but if you have access to potential buyers and you come across a domain that is for sale there is no harm in talking about the details with your potential buyers/contacts.
I do not agree with someone that has a website putting someone’s domain for sale there without permission this is wrong and is a big case of misrepresentation. But finding buyers without doing this only makes sense. If a broker came to me and said hey I see you have this name for sale I have 5 potential buyers that are interested I would like to make the sale possible just need a % of the final sale commission for it.
I would be more than happy to go with that especially since he has potential buyers vs. someone who tells me hey I am going to try to sell your domain name, can I? I would be like sure but curious as to when I would see any serious offers from buyers they claim to find for me.
Just my 2 cents =-D
In most states, a licensed real estate broker has to have a written authorization before they can represent that a property is for sale.
And they certainly will have considerable trouble collecting a fee for any sale, if they did not have such written authorization.
Alternatively, if a domain owner is not interested / can’t be found / to give written authorization to a person seeking to act as a domain broker, one can seek to obtain a ‘buyers representation’ agreement; to protect oneself against helping to catalyze a deal, and not having a fee agreement that will be enforceable in court so that they will be paid.
One can obtain a buyer’s representation agreement specifying that either the buyer or seller will pay the broker’s fee in case there is a successful transaction.
Absent written agreement one way or the other, the person acting in a brokercapacity may be left out in the cold, trying to collect their fee, in case of a successful sale.
Doubt escrow.com or any other transaction intermediary such as a law firm would likely pay a party purportedly acting as a ‘broker’ absent a valid written agreement specifying the identity of the party entitled to the brokerage fee payment (either from the seller, or buyer) and the amount to be paid.
The bona fides of a party holding themselves out as a broker can be tested by asking for a copy of their written authorization to represent the buyer or the seller.
Disclosure: Writer is a licensed real estate broker who has been a buyers agent for large and small corporate and private equity clients for over 25 years.
Not to be construed as legal advice.
I just bought my own domain on SEDO namepros.com/threads/i-just-bought-my-own-domain-on-sedo.883019
What I am noticing more and more are people trying to sell pending deleted domains before the actual deletion date. They would contact potential buyers and see if they would be interested at a certain price.
I purchased a dropped name the other day and marketed it and got a couple responses that someone approached them a few days earlier (before the domain dropped) and offered to sell it for 500.00 cheaper.
This is a terrible way to run your business.
Elliot, totally agree with you, that’s an unethical practice and a bad way of doing business … unless you don’t care about your reputation …
Maybe you should explain that to Tracy Fogarty, eNaming, who has listed on her website a lot of domains as “exclusive listings” without any permission from the owners …
I was really surprised and disappointed when I found out she was listing also AUDIT.com, which is a premium domain we have under Exclusive with a signed brokerage agreement with one of our clients …
I’ve kept a copy and a screenshot of the listing in case she deletes it and says it’s not true, plus we have warned her in writing to remove it from her listings.
We suggest to avoid doing business with people who have no written authorization (brokerage agreement or at least an email) from the domain owner.
You can find some example in Who.is, if your domain is marketed for 1000 $, you’ll find that some of it is offered for 1750 $ or more. It is not only about brokering, but some also about flipping. They will bought from you if they have a higher deal from a buyer, a domain investing model without risk and annual fee
Yes agree with your points, it is improtant to approach the seller first rather buyer because if the domain is already sold then it be an fix and bad reputation.