Make Sure the Seller is Authorized to Sell


For many of us who actively inquire about domain names, we use the Whois registrant email to contact the owner. I was inquiring about a domain name the other day, and something happened that I wanted to discuss and warn you about.

The domain name I was inquiring about is not currently being used. The company that owns the domain name operates on a different domain name, and their .com domain name is not being used. I sent an email to the Whois registrant (a privacy protected email address), and I also copied another email address I thought might be able to help because I didn’t know if the privacy email would work.

Within a couple of hours, I received an email response to let me know the company would consider selling the domain name and I could submit an offer. Shortly after that, I received a second email from someone else who forwarded my email to a third person with a message stating that the third person was out of the office for the week but that would be the person who would handle inquiries about the domain name. I followed up by emailing the third person to let them know I submitted an offer and am looking forward to hearing back from them.

After thinking about things for a couple of minutes, I was wondering why the first person told me to submit an offer and the second person told me I could submit an offer to someone else. I called the second person who responded, and she mentioned that she believes the first person no longer works at the company.

I didn’t mention the email exchange I had with the first person because I didn’t want to confuse things (or end up locking up the domain name while they investigate), but knowing who I need to speak with is obviously important. As a domain buyer, you need to know that the registrant contact may not be authorized to sell the domain name, so you should obviously confirm that fact before you buy it.

It might not be easy to find out if the person is authorized to sell a domain name, and it might not be comfortable to ask that question, but it’s something you should probe before transacting.


  1. Hello Elliot,

    I hope you are well.

    I have a question in relation to this post. Who would you recommend to contact at a company regarding the purchase of a domain? I have only tried once and went through the whois contact which was some tech guy. Would I be better served in going to the CEO’s office and working my way down?


    • I almost always start with the registrant. If it’s a small company, I might email the CEO / President / Owner. If it’s a larger company, I will frequently email the CMO, CTO or GC.

      Usually the person in charge of the registration can lead me in the right direction, but you just have to verify that the person is authorized to discuss the sale of the asset.

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