6 Steps to Buying a Domain Name Safely From Somebody Else

Do want to purchase your dream domain name, but found out that it is already taken?

First off, be 100% certain the domain name is already owned by someone else. Many people type a domain into their browser, land on a empty page, and think the domain is taken.

The guide to available domain names shows the difference between a taken domain and available one. Double check ownership before assuming anything.

If you double checked ownership and know the domain is already registered, then let’s begin your journey to acquiring the perfect domain name for your company or idea.

1. Determine the Current Domain Status

There are two basic types of domains:

  • Hosted Domains
  • Parked Domains

Hosted domains – These are like the website you are reading now. They are powered by CMS like WordPress or Drupal and have information about the owner. These are great domains to target since the previous owner created a bit of content and got indexed by Google.

Parked Domains – Domainers park websites to earn income from ads until a decent buyers comes along. These types of sites generally have very little content and only ads. Parked domains look like this:


Sometimes there is a “Make Offer” link, but it is often very small and hard to find. Investigate every link on the page to see if you find a “Make Offer” or “Click Here to Inquire” link. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to miss.

Most parked websites will sell for the right offer. You have the best chance at purchasing these domain names if your offer is high enough.

2. Value the Domain Name

The next step is determine the domain valuation. A domain with content generally sells for more than a parked domain. That’s why understanding this difference helps you figure out a true domain valuation.

Determine how much the domain is worth

Estibot and Valuate are good starting points for finding the bottom market value.

Domain length is important because the longer the domain, usually the lower the price. Please understand that this doesn’t apply to 100% of all domain names but on average it does. Read the top 10 domain name sales of all time and take a look at the domain length. Average length is only 5 letter/characters so you better believe size matters!

Consult with an experienced domain broker or do some research on the domain’s niche, brand recognition potential, Adwords market costs, ease of spelling, market trends, # of results in Google research for the keyword, and other valuation metrics. Each metric is a clue to the true value of the domain name.

General Price Guidelines

Here’s a general guideline schedule to help you with your initial offers.

1 Word – $$$$$

2 Words – $$$$

3 Word – $$$

4 Word – $$

5 Word and beyond – $

The scale of price is more important than the actual dollar amount. Avoid offering $1,000 for a 4 word domain when $100 is a better starting point.

3. Research the Owner

The first step is to check the Whois to see who registered the domain name. When you register a domain name, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) requires your domain name registrar to submit your personal contact information to the WHOIS database.

Once your listing appears in this online directory, it is publicly available to anyone who chooses to check domain names using the WHOIS search tool.

Head over to Domain Tools and type the domain name in the field. See if the Whois information is public or private. 95% of domain owners publicly list their contact information because it’s cheaper and they want potential buyers to contact them. Owners purchase private listings because they may work for a client or own a website in a non-safe industry like Adult or Gambling.

Public Whois Listings

If the listing is Public, you will see a name, email address and possible phone number. Copy down the Full name, email address and phone number for future use.

Now go to Google and type the full name and email into the search box. Look for the actual owner of the domain name. This is important because you can relate better to someone when you have a picture of them in mind.

Private Whois Listings

If private, you see something like “Domain by Proxy” or “Whois Guard Protected”. It looks like this:


When domain owners want to keep their information private, they buy a private registration for a small fee. It’s very hard to acquire a domain this way because registrars will never give you a client’s information. Your best bet is to find a contact information.

Find Email Addresses Using Google

If you cannot find one, then you use this simple hack to grab an email address:

Go to Google and search for this:

email “@AddDomainHere.com”

Replace AddDomainHere.com with the domain you want to purchase. Google will return any email addresses that get published to the website. If you find an email address, copy and paste it into your email client because you need to contact somebody with some authority to acquire the domain name.

Search for a Contact Form on the Website

Visit the website next and see if there is a contact form. Smaller domain owners usually respond to most inquiries because they need cashflow more than medium to large companies. Look for signals like personal information, a free email address on the contact page, or a short, brief about page. This usually means the website is run by an individual.

Larger companies publish lengthy about pages, use words like Corporate or Investors, and always use corporate email addresses. If you use their contact form, then the email will go to the tech department. Tech guys work on the client’s website and will usually delete your email before it reaches a decision maker like a CEO or Manager. For larger companies, try finding a phone number or higher up executive’s email.

Legal Reasons to Acquire the Domain

This technique was originally published over at Domai.nr. If you have a potential legal reason to acquire the domain, then refer to this article:

If you believe you’re legally entitled to the ownership of a domain because it infringes on a trademark that you registered prior to the domain’s registration, or because they are misrepresenting themselves as you, or for a few other reasons, consider exploring the UDRP. Read through both of those links thoroughly before you proceed with this option, as it will cost you time, energy and money, and you might not win.


  • You’ll pay nothing besides the UDRP fees in order to acquire the domain.
  • If the UDRP decision ends in your favor, you’re almost guaranteed to acquire the domain.


  • If the UDRP decision is not in your favor, the owner will have largely “proven” the validity of their ownership and will accordingly be stubborn when haggling with you for it, because they know that you won’t be able to easily fall back on legal action.

4. Contact the Owner

Next, Find the name of the owner or CEO and type it into Google. Look for things like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or any references on the web. In order to increase your response rates, do a bit of research before constructing your email. Pay attention to hobbies and things in common because it helps build trust and familiarity when sending your email.

Now, you’ve got a good email address or name of the domain owner. Next, here’s a  few ways you can initiate the negotiation process:

Casual Offer – Write a short email to the domain owner including your name, your company and ask if the domain name is for sale. Many people try to hide behind free email addresses or fake accounts to acquire a domain but any real domain investor will delete your email or fire back with an enormous price. Your best bet is to be honest and transparent.

Low Ball Offer – I received plenty of low ball offers for $100 or less but in most cases your email will be ignored, especially if it’s a premium name. Premium domains get tons of offers every day. Remember this because you should tailor your initial email to the domain name. If you offer $50 for DogTraining.com, then your email will be ignored or counter offered for a very large amount. A better strategy is to kindly ask if the domain name is for sale and how much. Smart domain owners avoid throwing out the first price so it may take a few back and forth emails to get a price range. Keep your domain budget in mind. This will help you stay rational in the negotiation process and avoid letting your emotions get in the way.

$500 Offer – $500 is the most common starting price point on the internet. It’s high enough to gauge interest without spending a fortune on the first offer. $500 is a large enough amount to get the ball rolling. Again, this depends on the domain name. $500 is good for DogTrainingBlog.com. $500 is a joke for Dogs.com.

High Offer – This works well if your domain name is owned by a larger company or domain marketplace. Domain companies register tens of thousands of domain names, have fully staffed sales representative working 7 days a week and know the value of their domains. They work together with their clients to maximize the sale price. Anything less than $,100 will probably be ignored by the buyer. Remember: a good domain attracts a lot of interested buyers. If your offer is much lower than others, then your offer won’t be taken seriously.

Wait for Expiration – Thousands of domains expire every day when the owner fails to renew them. This could happen for a number of reasons:

  • The owner deleted the domain and moved on
  • Credit Card failed to bill
  • Unexpected death
  • Owner changed their email and forget to renew

Check the domain expiration date on DomainTools to see exactly when it expires. If it’s close enough, you can catch dropping domains using a drop catch service like PoolNamejet orSnapnames. Here’s how the domain dropping process works:


How respond when you receive a reply

If you followed the steps above and picked a good domain offer stategy, then you will likely get a reply. There are few key things to pay attention to:

  • The owner’s name
  • The owner’s reply email
  • The words used
  • The email signature.

Each element is a clue about the owner. Professional owners will send email using their full name, company email, a professional email etiquette using something like:


An unprofessional owner will usually reply from a free email addreses, lack any queqittie or simply just type anything they please. Remember: the owner may speak English as a second language. Commonly misspelled words or poor word choice is a big clue.

You can reply to the follow up a few different ways:

Pick up the phone – If the buyer lists a phone number, call to speak to him in person. This is important if you need to own the domain quickly. You never know who else may be contacting them.

Quick BIN – You may receive a message asking you to make an offer. That’s your opportunity to offer a reasonable BIN price.

Cite recent Sales – If the owner responsds back with a high price, check recent sales atDnjournal or Namebio to show the owner what similar domains sell for. Stats are really important so avoid saying things like” I think it’s worth etc etc.” Point to objective numbers to justify your desired price.

5. Close the Deal

Whether you pick up the phone or reply back and forth via email, it can take from a few hours to a few months to acquire the domain. Many owners are simply unmotivated sellers. Domain brokerscan help speed up this process because they buy and sell domains for a living. Find a good broker to take over negotiations. Brokers will ask what your budget is and the max price you want to pay. Then they go off and contact the owner.

Finally, you’ve agreed on a price. This is where you need to be careful because a lot of scammers will accept your money but never send the domain name. There’s a couple ways to protect yourself from these types:

Use Escrow – Escrow protects you again fraud by acting as a third party mediator. You sendescrow the money and they keep it safe until the owner transfers the domain name. Here’s how Escrow.com works:


Escrow is recommended for transactions over $1,000. Escrow fees will cost you a bit and the owner may ask you to pay them. Escrows fees are around 3% depending on the transaction size.

Request Sedo – Sedo is the largest domain marketplace in the world. They handle thousands of domain transactions every month . If you want added security, you can request to purchase the domain at Sedo. Sedo works like this:

  1. Create an account at Sedo
  2. Ask the owner to list the domain name
  3. BIN to lock and add to cart
  4. Submit payment
  5. Follow instructions from Sedo sales assistants

They walk you through the entire process via email. It’s simple and easy to follow.

Sedo charges a 10% fee so many domain owners like to avoid it. Offer to pay the 10% fee to cover the owner’s costs. Transactions work quickly and smoothly. It’s really simple and I have personally bought and dozens of domains through them with zero hassle.

Use Godaddy Premium – Another popular method to acquire a domain safely is through Godaddy Premium Auctions. Godaddy is a widely trusted brand name and they manage over 30k domain transactions each month.

The only knock is the extremely high 30% commission to sellers. Most likely, the owner will want you to cover this cost. That adds 35% more to the price. Depending on the agreed price, this could turn a bargain deal into a nightmare.

Ask the buyer to list the domain at Godaddy at premium auction. Once completed, type the domain into the search box and it will show ” This premium domain is available. Now, add it to your cart to purchase.

Wire Transfer – Another good method is to send a wire transfer to pay for the domain name. This method works well with trustworthy owners or larger companies. Ask the owner to send you the wire transfer inf then send it over. Again, be careful with this method because trust is key. Do not wire any money to someone who appears anonymous or lacks a company email and phone number. A real business owner is easy to get a hold of. Scammers make their money through lies and tricks.

6. Transfer the Domain Name

If you use Godaddy or Sedo, then the domain will get transferred to your Godaddy account automatically. However, in many cases the domain is registered at a different registrar . You must learn about transfer codes .

Domaintools published a great article on transferring domains:

The transfer process will depend on which registrar the domain is currently registered with, and as the buyer, where you will want the the domain to transfer to. The process for handling domain transfers is slightly different for each registrar. However, the transfer process will usually take shape in one of the following forms:

  • If the domain name is registered with a registrar that accommodates a free ‘instant transfer’ process, then all you need to do is open an account with the registrar (if you do not already have an account with one) and request that the seller ‘push’ the domain into the account that you created.
  • You will need to request the domain’s authorizatioin code (also referred to as an auth code or an EEP code) from the registrar. Authorization codes are basically a password for the domain, serving as an extra security measure.
  • If the domain name is registered with a registrar that makes intra-registrar transfers complicated or impossible, you can initiate a a transfer from your favorite registrar and ask the seller to confirm the transfer when the email transfer confirmation arrives. The email confirmation usually goes to the administrative contact on the domain record as a security precaution to ensure validity of the domain name transfer.
  • Some registrars require a paper trail approach that may require a completed or signed transfer or a notarized letter authorizing the transfer. While most .com/.net./org registrars have bypassed faxed or snail-mailed documentation, there are still a few registrars that require that type of physical documentation before proceeding with a transaction (such is the case with UK transfers).

Note: Once a transfer has taken place, the domain name can not be transferred again for a number of days, unless it’s being transferred back to the previous registrar.

  • Confirm the transfer & Finish the Transaction. Be sure to confirm the status of the transaction with the seller once the transaction has completed. In addition to sending payment on time and in full (if you are the buyer), it’s a good idea to send a final email thanking the other party for making the transaction a smooth one.

Lastly, be sure to update your Whois information after the purchase/sale, and set your domain to auto-renew and lock it for your protection.


Congrats! You now own a valuable domain name for your company, business or brand. It’s important to put something up on the domain name  to allow Google indexing.

Buy some affordable web hosting at Hostgator and put something up to increase your domain trust. It’s much easier to make money with your domain if you have an actual website on it.

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