How to buy a domain name – here’s why nobody is responding to your domain name offers

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I think the number one question that I get from startup founders who are trying to buy a domain name is, “why is nobody responding to my offers?” While super persistent people will keep firing off emails, a lot of entrepreneurs move onto another domain if they don’t hear back from a domain owner. While at the end of the day you’ll get a domain name eventually if you keep emailing and waiting for people to respond, but you’ll likely end up with your third or fourth choice.

So what should you do if you want to buy a domain name but the owner isn’t responding? Well, to be blunt – you’re probably doing it wrong. Tell me if this sounds like the strategy you’ve taken so far – you sent an email to the domain owner letting them know you are a startup founder, you want to buy a domain name that they own but you don’t have a huge budget…so you want to know what they want for it. Seems harmless right?

What most people don’t think about is the fact that domain owners get emails like this all the time, and often they’re just tire kickers. Telling a domain owner out of the gate that you don’t have a big budget is one of the worst ways to get someone excited about doing a deal with you. At the same time, sending in a ridiculous low-ball offer is even worse, and yes – my guess is if you didn’t do what I predicted above, you probably offered $250 for the domain instead.

Either way these two approaches generally don’t work, and in many cases will work against you and just delay or negate your chance of getting the domain name. So let’s review, below are the two kinds of emails startup founders usually send to domain owners that get them a whole lotta nothing back:

  1. Send an email saying you’re a startup founder with a small budget
  2. Send an email with a ridiculously low offer

Okay – so I think we’ve covered what not to do. Now let’s talk about what to do.

  1. First things first, take some time to do your homework. Find out how much a domain name like the one you’re looking for will actually sell for. Two resources you can instantly use to explore this is DNJournal.com and NameBio.com. Suppose you want to buy a domain name that starts with a word and ends with “coin” – look for similar names like this that have sold, what does the range look like? What seem to be the average sale price?
  2. Now using data, make a real offer in your email. Suppose you’re looking at a short, meaningful, one-word .COM, you’ve looked and have seen that similar names sell for $150,000 – $300,000. Don’t start with a $1,500 offer – it’s just going to be ignored. Now maybe you’re not looking at such a pricey domain, maybe you’re looking at a two-word .COM and you’ve found similar names seem to sell inf the $5,000 – $15,00 range. Start with a $2,500 offer – not a $500 offer.
  3. Be prepared to pay more than you offer. Once you lead with an offer be prepared to pay more. I’ve seen founders make the mistake of sending an email with an offer and then ending the email with, “this is the most I could pay for this domain” – all that does is close the door. If you see a domain name like the one you want to buy typically sells in the $10,000 – $20,000 range, sure – you can start with a $7,500 offer but be prepared to pay $12,000.
  4. Don’t tell the domain owner that you see they aren’t using it. This may sound obvious but it’s amazing to me how many times I hear about someone sending an email where they try to convince the domain owner to sell a domain for pennies on the dollar because it doesn’t look like they are using the domain themselves. I live in San Francisco, there are a TON of empty office spaces, nobody is using them, but that doesn’t mean the owner wants to sell them for pennies on the dollar.
  5. You’re likely going to pay some or all of an escrow fee. Last but not least, if you’re buying a domain name that’s worth more than a few hundred dollars a domain owner will probably want to use an escrow service like Payoneer or Escrow.com. These services charge a fee and just like you need to factor closing costs in when you’re buying a house, the same goes for domain names.

I hope this article helps startup founders see a clearer path forward when it comes to reaching out to domain owners. At the end of the day, if you think you have the perfect domain in mind for your company, don’t let it get away, follow the process above, set a realistic budget, and go get that domain!

{ 9 comments… add one }

  • K.J.Haroon Basha March 10, 2018, 11:17 pm

    Great article, worth reading. Every domainer must read this article. Thank you very much.
    Haroon

    Reply
  • Tauseef March 11, 2018, 3:48 am

    investors should also note that most of the sales at namebio/dnj are to wholesalers. here is a good reference for investors:
    https://namebio.com/blog/avoid-common-mistakes-pricing-domains/

    Reply
  • Steve March 11, 2018, 10:51 am

    i recently received an email from a well known Millionaire cheapskate who told me my “URL” isnt worth what i was asking. i replied Sir a “URL” is facebook.com/millionairecheapskate my Domain Name ‘s asking price is $____ how can these people still be that foolish now a days?

    Reply
  • Jeff Schneider March 11, 2018, 11:41 am

    Hello Morgan,

    We have been teaching the Domainer community sales language (Through examples) for close to 15 years. We have a sales nugget , here for you. This will help (self Brokers) = We have never in the many buying offers We have recieved, had someone call us up and Build up our URLs, its always resistance based Criticism. We have been saying No to suitors on one of our properties for close to 20 years. Get used to Suitor Resistance and saying NO .

    (Moral of Story) = (Its always easiest, to criticize something you cannot have ) JAS

    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger) (Former Rockefeller IBEC Marketing Intelligence Analyst/Strategist) (Licensed CBOE Commodity Hedge Strategist) (Domain Master )http://www.UseBiz.com

    Reply
  • fizz March 11, 2018, 12:45 pm

    Great article Morgan. For end users what would you recommend their initial offer should be on a domain that has similar sales in the $150,000 – $300,000 range?

    Reply
    • Adam March 11, 2018, 2:21 pm

      Personally I don’t see a point wasting time low-balling early on. That’s likely already been done by a dozen people before you, especially if it’s a name in that range. They’ve gotten dozens of inquiries/tire kickers. If you know the expectations make the offer in the area of the price expectations or right near it. $100k maybe. . . . shows you’re wanting to do a deal and know what’s up.

      Reply
  • Darryl Lopes March 11, 2018, 12:54 pm

    $500 dollar opening offers do work for two-word domain names.

    Reply
  • fizz March 11, 2018, 4:54 pm

    Adam it would be great if qualified end-users reach that point of making initial offers that equate to the actual worth of the digital asset to both the buyer and seller. As Morgan mentioned a $1500 offer on a domain worth 150-300k is going to be ignored by many, but some buyers will keep trying.

    On the flip side, I really like the idea of putting a BIN or at least a min offer amount up to save everyone’s time, and for the above price range example I would imagine something like BIN 300 and/or min offer 125 would do that. The BIN of course means you miss out if a buyer values the name multiples higher than the comps, but you wouldn’t know that until afterwards anyway if they were in stealth mode using a broker.

    Reply
  • Peter March 20, 2018, 7:15 pm

    Great article. It’s worth for me. Do you have another article on how to send an email offering domains you own?

    Thanks for the article.

    Reply

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