People buy domain names for many reasons. Some companies purchase domain names to operate websites, and some buy domain names for investment purposes. Depending on the reason for why a domain name is needed, there are many ways to buy domain names. The purpose of this page is to show people and companies how to buy a domain name.
Some of the ways to purchase domain names include the following:
- Registering a new domain name at a domain registrar
- Privately buying a domain name directly from its owner
- Buying a domain name at an aftermarket marketplace, through a broker / brokerage, or on a domain forum
- Winning a domain name auction
Registering a domain name: When a domain name is not owned by anyone, the name needs to hand registered at a domain name registrar such as GoDaddy, Name.com, Enom, Network Solutions, or dozens of other registrars. Pricing varies at each registrar, and the cost to register a domain name can depend on the extension (.com, .net, .us…etc), length of time the domain name is registered, and upsells like Whois privacy. A domain name can only be hand registered if it is not currently owned by anyone else. A domain name that was previously registered but not renewed (and fully expired) may be hand registered again at a domain registrar. Some popular domain registrars include:
Privately buying a domain name: If a domain name is currently owned by another entity, it needs to be purchased directly from the owner of the domain name, although the annual renewal cost will still need to be paid directly to the domain registrar though. In order to find out who owns a domain name, the buyer would want to perform a Whois lookup, which should give the owner’s contact information. The buyer could also look at the domain name’s landing page or website for contact information as well as details about whether it might be for sale (or if it’s a fully operational business).
When contacting a domain owner directly to buy a domain name, it’s advisable to use real information and be upfront with the domain owner about who is buying it. There is a good chance the domain owner will be able to identify who is inquiring based on various information that can be gleaned from the inquiry. It’s also a good idea to make an offer for the domain name, which should be education. DNJournal and NameBio are excellent sources of information when it comes to finding comparable sales and current market conditions.
The domain resale market is dynamic, and pricing depends on the domain name and domain name owner. One option a buyer has is to use a domain broker to try and negotiate a deal directly with the domain owner. There are many reasons why a domain broker can be helpful, and you can also see a list of domain brokers.
Buying a domain name on the aftermarket: There are many marketplaces to buy domain names, with the largest three being Sedo, Afternic, and Aftermarket.com. Depending on the type of listing, buyers may either enter a bid or use the option to “buy it now” at the price listed by the domain owner. For most of these large marketplaces, the buyer can submit an offer anonymously, and the seller can either accept the offer, counter offer, or send it to auction. Some marketplaces rely on inside domain brokers to facilitate a deal between buyers and sellers. Depending on the marketplace, the buyer and seller may be able to transact directly through the marketplace or use an escrow service.
In addition to the three major marketplace websites, there are also smaller aftermarket websites. Some of these websites are owner-operated, and some are operated by third parties. On the websites that are owner operated, the buyer would deal directly with the domain owner. Many of these websites require the buyer to submit an offer for the domain name rather than purchase it right away. This is because the domain name aftermarket is dynamic, and it would be difficult to adjust pricing as the market changes.
Many domain brokers offer domain sales newsletters, which can be a great way to buy domain names that are priced well. Additionally, many brokers are willing to privately inquire about domain names on behalf of qualified buyers. An advantage of using a broker is that the deal should be completely anonymously should the buyer wish to remain private.
Domain name forums, such as DN Forum and NamePros have domain sales areas specifically for buyers and sellers to transact. Sellers will generally list their domain names for sale, and the first buyer to agree to a seller’s asking price is able to transact. Because of the nature of domain forums, there is a wide variety of domain names offered for sale. It is always advisable to use an escrow service when doing a deal on a public forum.
Winning a domain name auction: NameJet, SnapNames, and GoDaddy are three of the largest aftermarket auction websites. Although NameJet and SnapNames specialize in expiring and deleting domain name auctions, they also offer private auctions as well. GoDaddy primarily offers auctions of expiring domain names. These auctionhouses have deals with various domain registrars that enable them to auction the expiring inventory from specific domain registrars when the owner fails to renew the auction.
Ebay and Flippa are two other popular domain auction venues. At any given time, there are thousands of domain names listed for sale on these venues, and the quality differs depending on the venue.