You Might Want to Accept the First Counter Offer


One of the most exciting aspects of buying and selling domain names is the negotiation. You have a purchase or sale price in mind, the other party has their price in mind, and you go back and forth in the hopes of closing a deal. Based on my experience, sometimes it is better to accept the first counter offer and just close the deal than risk losing the deal by counter offering.

Let’s say I want to buy a domain name I think has a wholesale value of $20,000, so I kick things off with a reasonable offer of $10,000. Sure, the offer may be a bit low, but it isn’t a $100 offer that the seller probably sees every week, and it is strong enough to show the seller that I am serious. Being a reasonable domain owner, the seller counters at $15,000. The hard part is deciding whether to try and save some money by either sticking to my offer or improving it. Alternatively, I can simply say “deal,” and get it done.

I have regularly gone back to try and get a better deal. Domain investing is part speculation, and I think an investor makes his money on the buy-side. Sometimes the market is weak or a domain name isn’t as valuable as I might expect, so getting a good deal is important. There is a big risk to going back and countering the counter offer though.

A seller may begin to re-think things. He may realize he isn’t likely to get what he wants on the name and try to find another buyer for the domain name. This can drive up the price. The seller may simply say “no thanks” and take the domain name off the market.

When I counter offer, I am effectively saying “no” to the current asking price, and that means that there is no longer a deal on the table. As far as I understand (from a non-lawyer perspective), if I decline the counter offer and change my mind later, the seller has no legal obligation to honor the price at which he offered the domain name. In an effort to save some money, I may end up losing the opportunity to buy the domain name. That is a big risk when countering, especially if the counter offer is reasonable.

If a seller is reasonable and their counter offer is fair, I am now more regularly simply agreeing to buy the domain name. Perhaps the seller will think that he priced it too low if you don’t counter offer again, but there is always that risk. If the seller changes his mind, you may have a legal claim against the seller in order to enforce the agreement that was reached via email. Obviously that isn’t legal advice and it depends on other factors such as jurisdiction.

Great domains are getting more difficult to buy at a reasonable price, and simply saying yes to a counter offer can lock in the deal. I might occasionally pay a bit more than necessary, but securing a great domain name at a fair price is a negotiation win, regardless of whether or not I could have paid less.


  1. Not a lawyer either, but as far as I last heard, merely publishing a price is “an invitation to deal,” not an offer someone can assert acceptance for. So for instance, if you have a domain for sale with a price of $20,000 you’ve published on your own site and someone contacts you to pay the price, last I heard it constitutes an offer from the potential buyer, not a binding acceptance of your offer. I’m not talking about venues in which there is a “BIN” price and terms governing that, however; under that circumstances, I imagine the terms of service make it legally binding. But for instance, when Sears advertises an air conditioner for $500, I think that may technically fall into an “invitation to deal” category and they are not obligated to honor the price when you show up to pay it. Interesting stuff.

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