One way that you might be able to score a good deal on a domain name is to search through lists of previous domain auctions, and reach out to domain owners whose name(s) did not sell. In the past three years, there have been a number of domain auctions that saw a large percentage of domain names go unsold either due to poor market conditions or the reserve prices set by domain owners.
Oftentimes, domain owners believe having their domain name listed in a domain auction is a surefire way to get it sold for big money. Many owners feel that they need to compensate for the commission rate that would be had if the domain name sold. Additionally, owners know that if they set their reserve prices too low, it could get stuck in a silent auction and possibly had for a song by someone willing to dig in and scour the thousands of names listed. As a result, many domain names listed at auction are overpriced.
When these domain names don’t sell, the owners return to the status quo and continue to hold on to their domain names. Many months after the auctions end without bids, the exclusivity period required by the auction houses end, and the domain owners are free to sell their names without the commission, leaving buyers with a ripe opportunity.
I haven’t done much of this yet, but you might consider scouring lists of domain auctions held a few years ago, and see if there are any unsold domain names that you might be interested in buying if the price is right. Do a historical Whois search to see if the owner is the same, and if so, drop him a note. With the economy in its current state and knowing the fact that the name was listed for sale in the past and didn’t change ownership, it might be a great time to buy some domain names.