This Is Why Your Name is Bad (But I Want to Buy It)

A friend and I were discussing a couple of names we each own in the hopes of working out a cash + domain deal. We sent a few emails back and forth and had a couple of Skype conversations about the domain names that would be included in a deal deal. Half of the time was spent discussing why each other’s names weren’t all that good… I love playing the game of devaluing domain names.

I’ve played and seen this “game” played many times in negotiations. I want to buy a domain name or someone wants to buy my domain name, and when it comes time to figuring out the price, there is often resistance and sometimes friction. To get a better price on the domain name, the buyer may spend time telling the seller why the domain name is worth less than the seller’s asking price, and the seller does the opposite.

Some examples of this “devaluing” include:

  • One of those letters in the isn’t premium
  • Domain name is difficult to spell
  • There are many alternatives to the domain name
  • A big company owns the .net, but they haven’t even developed it
  • The name previously sold for less

While a buyer’s attempts at devaluing the domain name may have some effect if the seller is actively selling, it may also annoy the domain owner. If the buyer approached the seller out of the blue and then started the devaluing game in the middle of a negotiation, it could annoy the owner into taking the name off the market.

I find this “game” humorous because I partake when buying names. I am sure some people find it annoying though.

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. Here is one from this morning 🙂

    “This keyword gets very little traffic and is kind of a long domain so it’s not so valuable. If you will take $150.00 ! “

  2. As someone who has bought and sold many things for quite some time (domain and obviously non domain) I don’t think it’s a good strategy to try to knock down what someone owns.

    You may be aware that when selling real estate the broker usually doesn’t want the owner present lest the potential buyer say something negative about the property that makes the owner make an emotional decision not to sell. Because of an insult someone may cut their nose to spite their face so to speak.

    To me it’s the opposite. To be a ready willing and able buyer but only at a certain price. Not to knock down the value of the goods. The seller will either a) get defensive b) not believe you c) already knows this and doesn’t care etc. That car is perfect for me. I want it and the color is hard to find. It is exactly what I want. But I will only pay $x for it that’s all I can afford. You are dangling the deal of a real buyer not a wishy washy maybe deal.

    If you are a ready and willing buyer who says “hey I really really really want this domain but I can only afford to pay $x for it” you are sending a message that you recognize the value but can only pay so much.

    The seller (who knows it could be years until they find another buyer) has to then decide if they want to take the offer or not.

    I don’t think in negotiating it’s ever a good idea to try to bluff (this way at least) and force someone into a corner.

    I think in the domain business people confuse ability to pay with will pay. You can be google and come along and attempt to buy a domain (as google not cloaked) and the fact that you have billions to spend doesn’t mean you are going to overpay for a domain.

  3. “If it’s not that valuable, then why do you want it so badly?”

    Getting someone to justify their price is one thing, but as soon as they start to play the devaluing game, it does nothing but show their hand.

    • The devaluation game is a strategy to reduce the price. If you refuse the buyer’s price, they downplay the domain’s value. As long as you stay firm and show confidence in your domain names, you place the buyer in a weaker position.

      Many domainers have rejected extremely low offers. They play the waiting game. The buyer will return again to increase their offer. ALways know the lowest possible price you are willing to sell your domain names. This is good information to negotiate a good domain sale.

      You will hear that your domain names are not that valuable. However, the buyer will continue to discuss this domain name. Think of the domain sales process like an auction. When more than a few buyers show interest, this can create added value to your domain name(s).

      The keywords are definitely valuable to the right end-users.

    • Hey, Joey – I’m still around. I just end up having to lay low for periods during the year when my other commitments take precedence. I’m going to NamesCon in January. Any chance you’ll be going? I’ll drop you a line via email – glad to see you’re doing well!

  4. @nadia

    The whole objective to diss someone name is because they will stay to feel bad that their name is not worth anything and they should sell it for low or drop. Rather than dropping I’m here to rescue you by giving you little but more. Although I’m only doing this help u but hey I’m your friend so I will help u buying that name from u.

    In reality all u did is made someone feel about the name they own and now u have the name and sell for thousands and basically made profit by cheating ur friend and playing those stupid tactics.

    Moral: there is no friends in domaining, what there really is competition and wolves who will try to take ur food.

    • I disagree. A domain investor with names worth keeping is never going to be disappointed they didn’t sell them for peanuts. If it’s truly a crap name and you’d be lucky to get $50 for it, that’s one thing. In that case, you should have never bought it in the first place, and you should know it’s bad – someone else telling you shouldn’t make you “feel bad.”

      If it’s a name you know has value, someone lowballing you and trying to get it for peanuts isn’t going to make a difference. Usually, the devaluing game only comes after they don’t like your counteroffer.

      A guy tried to tell me a 3-word, 17-letter .com wasn’t that valuable because of its length. So I sent him to Namebio and had him lookup past sales of .coms that length and longer. It contained a keyword that had been in the news a lot. Bottom line, he knew his devaluing line was just BS and bought the name, at 37x his initial offer of $150.

      I think it’s a poor negotiation strategy.

  5. Yeah, like I’ve been saying all along, lol (“cutthroats and liars”…and (not) bears! oh my!) Yes, the bears in their straightforward and honest efforts to devour are the decent ones by comparison to the dirtiest of domainers (for any international domainers who may not be familiar, the way I said that is a reference to a famous “Wizard of OZ” movie line that North American domainers will generally be very familiar with, and perhaps many Europeans)

    There is a line between lying, which is wrong, and acting immorally when trying to get a bargain price, even a super mind boggling pennies on the dollar bargain price, vs. going about it in a way that is not evil or immoral. I may offer you pennies on the dollar for a million dollar domain and try to get you to agree to that without lying or immoral tactics, but I won’t dare do something as filthy and vile, for example, as falsely claim I believe it’s only worth that. This principle applies to other areas of life of course as well. The big turn off is when people cross that line gladly and with great brazen showmanship, and you know it when you see it, especially if you bother wasting time in any type of domain (uh hum) “appraisal” thread in a forum with something other than a blatant killer domain that doesn’t even need to be posted there for appraisal to begin with ().

    On a side note, I have this one .com that gets more inquiries than any other domain I’m involved with. Been going on a number of years now. It’s not even a one-worder. A number of times a Sedo rep has contacted on behalf of a potential buyer. It’s a killer multiple worder. There are so many knock-off versions of it that it’s almost comical, but this one is the best of them all in gTLD. What I found interesting was that the first time a Sedo rep made contact, he shot back to my pricing with what appeared to be a very blatant effort to play this “game of devaluing domain names.”

    • P.S. A dose of refreshing candor from Elliot here on a topic of interest to me, btw, and of course I’m not suggesting anything at all here or in any position to suggest he himself may have crossed any of the lines I’m talking about…that’s between him and God…

  6. P.P.S. Interesting, by trying to put a “rofl” in angle brackets, it didn’t show up in my first post here (“doesn’t even need to be posted there for appraisal to begin with ()” – there should be a “rofl” surrounded by angle brackets a.k.a less than and greater than signs in the paren’s there).

  7. re:”One of those letters in the isn’t premium”

    lol if only I charged a dime to someone every time they emailed me this comment, I’d be wealthier than you Elliot :mrgreen:

    In all seriousness though I enjoy the fact that someone is willing to spend a great deal of time and effort to email me their devalued appraisal of my domain names as it shows me their desired interest to purchase it in the first place 😉

    In fact as part of my business model in certifying the value of my domain investments in the public eye, the more emails I receive for a particular domain devaluing it with the hope of purchasing it at a lower price the more valuable it genuinely is! 😀

  8. Do anything long enough, you eventually develop a skin for whatever consistent idiocy is associated with that thing.

    In college, I managed a hotel. There’s a whole, unique brand of idiocy associated with the hotel industry and renting hotel rooms to people. Same with the restaurant industry, the construction industry, any industry. Do it long enough, it all becomes predictable and no longer obnoxious; just part and parcel of what you’re doing.

    Likewise, own enough decent domains (you will know they’re decent because you’ll regularly have people who go out of their way to try and buy them) long enough, you’ll soon recognize the unique complexion of domain dealings.

    The buyers who come charging in with offers but crumble when it comes time for action (ie, writing a check)

    Obnoxiously incompetent negotiatiors who may have other valuable skills (for example, they may be a great Perl developer) but they have no ability whatsoever to conduct an effective negotiation, so yeah. You get stuff like “Your domain sucks and for these reasons it’s not worth that much money but I want to buy it”.

    My standard response to those (and they are very common):

    “Dear sir.
    I totally agree with your reasoning on the value of I probably would’ve made the mistake of letting it go but thanks to your insights on how little its worth, I now fully appreciate that it’s something I needn’t bother selling.

    Thanks so much for the help.”

  9. “I don’t think in negotiating it’s ever a good idea to try to bluff (this way at least) and force someone into a corner.”

    It completely depends on what you’re negotiating for and from what vantage either party exists. The only way a person can be ‘backed into a corner’ is if they have some sort of inherent weakness in their position. If that’s the case, then the right strategy is to START the negotiation with them already in the corner.

    As far as negotiations go, domain negotiations aren’t complex. One party trying to pay the least, one party trying to get the most. If either party has a ceiling or floor, then any ‘negotiations’ are dead unless their minimums overlap.

    I seriously doubt most people in this ‘industry’ even begin to understand what a complex negotiation looks like. Try negotiating a multi-jurisdictional wetlands mitigation plan for a planned use development between the local water management district, the Army Corps of Engineers, the State Department of Environmental Regulation and the county. Ever see the back and forth that goes into a nine or ten figure class action settlement? Strategic negotiation for selling domains is on par with selling used cars.

  10. Whenever your selling to resellers, devaluation is part of the game, For myself I honestly hate selling to resellers not just for this reason but many others, the big being they usually want something for nearly nothing.

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