Use a Hotmail Alias to Buy Domain Names

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Since I often receive email inquiries from Hotmail and Gmail addresses, I assume there are many domain investors who use these free email services to buy and sell domain names. I have had a hotmail account for a number of years, and I noticed a banner advertising alias accounts at Hotmail.

According to Hotmail, “Some people like to use multiple addresses for different things. For example, you might use one address for a job search and a different one for online shopping. That way, messages sent to those addresses can be kept in a separate folder.” I think this could be useful when you want to purchase  domain names, and I will explain below.

Let’s say I want to buy DomainInvesting.com, and I don’t know the owner (this is just an example). Assuming it’s someone involved in the domain industry, I wouldn’t necessarily want him to know that I am buying it, since that could increase the asking price. By using an alias in my hotmail account, I can contact the person anonymously.

I am sure many people use aliases when they want to buy a  domain name, but instead of having to maintain different logins and passwords, this particular service allows someone to maintain different email addresses from one single account.  Keep in mind that the seller will likely learn your identity when using an escrow service, but I am sure there are ways around that.

I don’t recommend being dishonest when buying a domain name, but it’s never good to pay much more for a domain name based on who you are. As a seller, I don’t feel that way, but this is about buying and not selling!

What other tactics  are you willing to share? What are your thoughts on using an alias?

23 COMMENTS

  1. Another trick I use is the use of weak English writing. That way the domain owner doesn’t know you’re from a well developed country, as my case the US. This has worked pretty well in dropping the price down.

  2. I just sold a name this week from an initial hotmail email address inquiry. I treat them all the same and assume it’s an end user when a hotmail or yahoo email comes into me. In this case, it was and ended up being a nice sale.

  3. If the domain is decent, doesn’t matter what the email is, you charge for it, if you know your domains, and your prices, you better believe end users are capable of these tricks.

    I have seen many end users try this, but stand your ground, if they need, and want it, they will show you the money.

  4. I guess the moral of the post for domain owners is don’t assume an enquiry from a hotmail or gmail account is necessarily just some ‘regular’ individual. It could be a sizeable company just trying to hide their identity.

    As a domain buyer, probably best to keep your identity secret until the end.

    It all makes for interesting negotiation.

  5. 99% of the time I will not reply to a casual hotmail/free email enquiry as they rarely name a price to get the ball rolling and if they are serious they will contact you again through some means…

    However, you know it is a domainer wanting your name because the email sounds a little like this…

    Hello, I am student from Peru and not very interested in your domain ‘z.com’ but am offer you $150 for it as my son is doing an assignment in kinder and want to use the name. I am probably paying too much as this isn’t even a word, but if you want to donate/sell it to me my son be very happy.

    God-bless you,
    Remmacs Reniamod

  6. If you are a small startup and you are buying one specific really good domain that is already priced to end user only, you are better off not being anonymous. If you keep being anonymous, seller will price it as if Google or MSFT is a buyer.

    In this case, the best strategy for a small buyer is to first send out a few anonymous emails to fill out the seller. Then, when nothing comes out of it, CEO of the company should contact the seller directly and just say – look, we are just a small startup, what is the best price you can give us.

    At this point, I would say if you are buying a six figures and up domain that has not been shopped around, you are better off not being anonymous and not playing any games. Unless you are Google or MSFT.

  7. I generally will approach a domain owner with my real information.

    I am not a fan of playing games, as I don’t like people to play games with me.

    It is easier dealing with straight shooters when buying or selling.

    Brad

  8. @ Brad

    I’m with you. I tried to do it once, the person apparently records IP addresses from inquiries, and she knew it was me. Luckily, my offer was good enough and I bought the name, but it was embarrassing.

  9. @Abdu

    Sounds good in theory, but using weak english may instead make the seller less likely to want to deal with said individual. If the buyer is outside the seller’s country, there is less recourse in the event something goes wrong, or if they stiff/scam the seller, etc.

  10. First thing I do when I receive and offer, from whatever email account, is to google the email address from the interested party, and see what comes up. The same email address might have been used somewhere else and it can give a clue to who the buyer is… That usually helps set up the “right” cost for the domain.. As a buyer I’ve always had a dedicated email address I use to place offers only… I don’t use it for NOTHING else.. I have 11 email addresses and each one of them is used for a different purpose. It helps me manage all the information that comes in daily..

  11. @andrew,

    I have been buying and selling domain names with Gmail and Hotmail for a few years and it seems to work. You can never tell about a person or what he might pay for a domain by his email address.

  12. Or ask a friend to send out some emails who isn’t in domain industry. He or she representing you. Then you could give them a cut to make it worth there time.

    I haven’t done this yet but been considering it.

    Agree with Elliot and Brad. I use same email address for 95 percent of my emailing owners.

  13. I use my real name, address , phone and cell number. That tells the seller it is a serious and legit offer.

    In many cases we do not agree on price and deal does not take place. However my contact info stays with seller and when they want to quickly sell , they do contact me – sometimes after years.

  14. If one looks/examines the email header information, is there any way for the receiver of an ‘alias’ email to surmise/determine:
    a) that it is an alias email?;
    b) the address of the base/original account?

    Can anyone comment — from a coding/technical p.o.v.– if it is foolproof? In other words, will an email sent via an ‘alias’ address fool ‘tech savvy’ individuals, or just normal/average users?

  15. I was under the impression that people were to be wary of inquiries from hotmail or yahoo addresses. I usually don’t take them seriously, although I’ll always send a reply, even if it’s “it’s not for sale.” You can tell it’s an investor when they beg and plead and threaten legal action (or a non-trademarked name). I’ve found serious buyers email you right from their Gmail or business address, or contact you by phone.

  16. As many have already stated, the use of aliases can be just as much of a hinderance as a help. Yes, if you’re someone very well known or work with a very large corporation, hiding your identity is probably necessary, but if as the owner I attempt to do any research on you (as all good domainers should) and can’t find anything than I may view your offer as insincere or a scam and ignore it, or push the asking price higher to test the waters.

    As for using the poor English approach, I think that’s another thing that can work for or against you. Just as the “I’m a student, non-profit etc” approach. In my opinion, someone who truly knows the value of their product is going to be resistant to any approach that undermines the value. And considering how much of the domain industry is made up of those from non-english speaking countries…..

  17. I recently decided on the following solution for Craigslist and plan to use the same solution for future domain purchases: Set up a new gmail address, forward it to a catch-all gmail address (do this in your alias gmail “mail settings”). Then, on your catch-all gmail mail settings, add the new alias in the “send mail as” section. Voila. Oh, and go ahead and have fun when selecting your new alias…I always go with a Fletch alias.

    -Dr. Rosen Rosen

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