A few weeks ago, I wrote about a change at Escrow.com that has implications for people living in or doing business with entities in Russia, Panama, and even in the US state of Alabama. In short, an American company can no longer use Escrow.com to buy or sell a domain name to a counterparty in Russia, Panama, Alabama, or elsewhere on the exclusion list. Because I use Escrow.com on many of my private sales, this could become problematic for me.
Over the years, there have been numerous times where I could not use Escrow.com for a deal when I wanted to use the company to transact. On one deal, the seller was a financial institution that had an issue with using a third party financial institution for an escrow deal. On another deal, there were issues with getting an escrow contract that would be aligned with the purchase agreement. There have been a few other deals where the counterparty simply did not know Escrow.com well enough to trust them. As a result, I have had to use an alternative to Escrow.com quite a few times, so it has been helpful for me to have a backup plan.
When dealing with smaller transactions where the other party would not or could not use Escrow.com, I have typically recommended doing the deal via GoDaddy / Afternic. Yes, this means I had to pay a commission, but it allowed me to close a deal in a way that guaranteed funds (unlike PayPal) and I did not have to worry about dealing with the domain name transfer. Alternatives for people who prefer other marketplaces include Dan.com, Sedo, Uniregistry, or Epik. I have used Sedo on deals but have not used the other two.
On larger deals or on deals that required payment plans or separate written purchase agreements, I have used attorney John Berryhill for escrow. I have also used other large law firms to manage escrow when dealing with a major corporate buyer or seller. One thing I like about working with John is the purchase and escrow agreements work are integrated so there aren’t changes necessary in order to ensure the agreements work well with each other. I am sure other lawyers offer escrow when asked. In fact, Stevan Lieberman operates an escrow service at Escrow.Domains.
When Ammar Kubba launched the Agreed escrow service (which was acquired by Escrow.com), his reasoning was to remove the pain points from escrow. The escrow transaction should be pretty seamless and smooth. Timing is critical sometimes, as deals that don’t get closed right away can sometimes fall off. I have an escrow backup plan in the event I can’t use Escrow.com for a deal.