Domains are like digital real estate. And just like real estate there are people buying it up, hoping to sell it later for more money. The truly smart people add value to the domain before doing so.
The same way that people buy empty land, build a house on it and sell it. People are buying domains, putting on a website, and selling it for money.
Likewise, the domain that you always wanted might be in the hands of a digital real estate owner. Maybe their bought it for their business, maybe for fun, or maybe because they want to sell if expensively.
Below we discuss how to buy a taken domain from its current owner.
Step 1: is it worth it?
Buying a domain is going to cost you. It will cost:
So before embarking on your quest to buy a taken domain name, consider whether it is worth it.
If there is an alternative that is equally desirable, consider taking that instead.
For example if your company is Awesome Inc, but awesome.com is already taken, consider domains like:
In general the best TLD’s for google findability (SEO) are .com and .co. If you go for other TLD’s (like .io .vc or .ly) you will lose on SEO.
What is it worth to you
Before starting out, ask yourself what this domain is worth to you. Are you willing to pay € 100,-, € 1000,- or € 10000,- for this domain?
Always have a concrete number in mind.
Most domain names that are already taken will cost you in the hundreds or thousands.
Step 2: find the owner
To buy the domain, you need to know who owns it now.
Some domains are simple, if you open them they say “DOMAIN FOR SALE”
Go through the following checklist:
- Is the owner listed on the website? Check contact sections.
- Can you find emails of telephone numbers of the owner?
- If there is no info, check who.is for the registered owner and their details
For example, the awesome.com domain might be entirely empty. By using who.is however you can find out who registered it, what their email and phone are and even their address.
Step 3: ask the owner if he wants to sell
The fastest way to get in touch is to call. If that fails, email. The goal of your first contact is finding out if:
- You are talking to the owner of the domain
- The owner is interested in selling the domain
- For how much the owner is hoping to sell
If the owner is not looking to sell, for the sake of opening up the possibility ask:
At what price point would you become interested in selling?
This opens most people up to at least considering selling.
Step 4: agree on a price
There is something very important to keep in mind. And that is:
Domains have no intrinsic value
They are worth what people pay for them. But you can’t eat them, and they do not magically generate revenue.
When working towards a price, font out the following factors:
- How long has the domain been for sale?
- This is an indication of how desirable it is
- Are there any interested parties?
- You can get a lower price if you are the only one interested
- Have they turned down any offers?
- This will allow you to get an absolute bottom price
- What kind of buyer are they expecting to be interested?
- See if you fit their profile
Keep in mind that domains and real estate are similar.
Sellers often have a very high price in mind, but are willing to settle at far less.
This is of course dependent on the above factors. Feel free to tell someone their price is unreasonably high, so long as you can somehow back it up.
Also make sure that the price you agree on is including any taxes or extra fees.
Do not agree to any price on the phone, tell them you will email them with your decision. And in there ask for confirmation that this price is agreed upon.
Step 5: create and sign a sale-purchase agreement
Before transferring or receiving any money, create a contract. Make sure both you and the other party sign this contract. Personally I have had perfectly fine experiences with default templates like this one. You are however entirely responsible for your legal coverage.
Be absolutely sure who you are dealing with.
Get a passport copy if needed. Make sure you know who they are, where they live and how you can contact them.
Step 6: determine a secure payment method
All channels have their advantages and disadvantages. Traditional banking may be relatively cheap, but hard to safeguard. Paypal has great buyer protection mechanisms, but costs more money.
Consider the following:
- When using bank transfers, consider using a 3rd party escrow service
- When using Bitcoin, always use an escrow service unless you personally know the person
- When using Paypal, be sure that your transfer is eligible for buyers protection
Step 7: transfer funds in exchange for the EPP code
An EPP code is the authorization code of a domain, which allows you to register it to your name. Simply go to your usual domain registrar, and use this code to purchase the domain name.
If at all possible, go for a 50% up front and 50% after completion payment structure. This greatly reduces your risk and keeps them cooperative until the very end.
Step 8: enable registrar lock
When the domain is under your name, secure it by enabling the registrar lock. This means the domain cannot be transfered (even with an EPP) until you remove the transfer lock.
The functionality is not available for all domain extensions.