How I Deal With Auction Locks During a Negotiation

Depending on the auction house, domain name registrar, and type of auction, a domain name may be locked for a period of time following the conclusion of an auction. This means a domain name cannot be transferred out of a registrar, and it may in fact be locked within the account and unable to be pushed to another account (again, this may depend on the registrar).

Because I sometimes receive an inquiry during the auction lock period, I want to share a bit of advice with how I deal with this type of situation.  Before responding to the inquiry, I will do a bit more research on the history of the domain name.

If the auction was a private auction and not an expiry auction, I might contact the auction house and registrar and ask them to remove the lock for me. If the domain name has been at the registrar for more than 60 days (and is older than 60 days old), the auction house might remove the lock for me. This is especially true if I have been a long time bidder and there is very little risk of me placing a credit card chargeback or something else that could cause them to lose money. The registrar might not be willing to unlock it, but that is the first place to start.

If the auction was an expiry auction or pending delete auction, the chances of having the name unlocked are very slim. Again, this depends on the registrar because some registrars allow outbound transfers following a expiry auction and some do not.

Knowing whether or not I can have the lock removed is important. If I can transfer the domain name out, I likely won’t even mention anything to the prospective buyer. If the domain name can be pushed to a different account at the registrar but not transferred out, I would likely mention the fact that I just won the domain name in an auction during the course of my negotiation. This way, I can reference the auction and the lock status if we are able to come to terms on pricing. Finally, if the domain name can not be pushed or transferred, I might either not negotiate with the prospect or be totally transparent up front.

I think it is important to be up front with the prospect as soon as it is feasible. I would be annoyed if I spent a few days negotiating to buy a domain name only to find out that a deal can’t be closed for days or weeks due to a locked status. I also believe mentioning the auction can be helpful because it likely shows that the domain name was in demand. The downside is that the prospect may be able to find out the sale price and use that in the negotiation.

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. Some good advice but I think there’s a fine line where you don’t want to scare off the prospective buyer, when they hear that the domain is locked (some not understanding the jargon) paranoia heightens and they start suspecting foul play.

    On the other hand, I just bought a domain name and without asking me once funds cleared at escrow the domain was automatically pushed into an account the seller created at the same registrar and he emailed me the username and password. I had never used the registrar before and it was difficult to navigate, I would say that tacked on another hour of administrative work figuring out how to change the password and if I could transfer the domain name out after a push then figuring out where the auth code was etc, etc…Needless to say the thought of backing out at that point had crossed my mind. While I would never actually do that in the middle of a deal for these reasons I’m sure other buyers have had similar thoughts and may act on them.

    I would say it’s wise to inform and ask, communication is key it’s just a question of when.

    • I typically wait until we have agreed upon a price but before we go into escrow before letting the other party know about the lock. Most of the time, it’s not a big deal, especially if the domain name can be pushed to another account at a major registrar.

      I have had it happen where people create a new account at their registrar and push the name to me. That pisses me off enough that I wouldn’t do business with that person again unless it was a killer deal. I don’t want to be bothered with annoyances and I think doing that is unprofessional, especially if they know I am in the business (and won’t have issues with doing a transfer or account change on my own terms). It gets me upset even thinking about that because not only can it be frustrating dealing with it at the time the deal is done, but it can also be annoying to have multiple accounts at one registrar.

  2. This happened to me before with a Namejet pre release. We won the auction and got an inbound inquiry 5 days later. Agreed on a price and got the escrow info.

    Then I noticed the domain was locked in my Enom account! Thankfully, the buyer was patient and waited throughout the 42 day auction lock period and the sale eventually went through.

    Thanks for sharing the tips!


  3. Re: them finding out what you paid –

    As I just pointed out in the Jan. 30 thread:

    If you found out I was able to buy a million dollar domain for $1000, you’re still not getting it for $10,000 and anything less than a fair price. A $20 million Beverly Hills estate is still worth $20m even if the seller was able to get it for $50,000.

    Happened to me recently in fact. Sorry (not), doesn’t matter what I paid.

  4. I don’t even mention the auction. It’s not anyone’s business how I acquired the domain name or when I acquired it. I’m simply the legally registered owner of the domain name. So, I just state the truth: “The current registrar is blocking transfer of the domain name out of its system for 60 days. The registrar is, however, allowing for an immediate push of the domain name to another account within their system. So, you have two choices: 1) we wait 60 days to transfer the domain name to the registrar of your choice, or 2) we push the domain name to your account at the same registrar immediately.” Without fail, the buyer chooses to do the immediate push to gain control of the domain name. They receive the domain name and releases the funds within a day or two.

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