How to buy a domain name that is already taken

Milva Rausseo
Oct 18, 2018 · 5 min read

The perfect domain for you is out there, and even if someone else took it, you can still have it if you follow these tips!

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It’s a story that has happened before and will probably continue to happen. You finally have decided on a name for your business. It’s catchy, is memorable, and is brandable! You can even imagine your graphic identity, your logo, and how that amazing website will look. You are ecstatic! You don’t waste more time, you just go to register that beautiful .com domain name.

And it happens.

Sorry, is taken.

This is a narrative that many businesspeople go through when they are setting up their companies. Someone else has already bought their domain names, probably many years ago. What to do? Should you just forget about the whole thing and look for another name? Should you just give up?

Not so fast. When it comes to Domain Names, not everything is set on stone. There are options, you just need to go over them and decide what path will lead to getting that perfect domain name you know is THE ONE for you.

Remember to test the domain name. You don’t want to start a business with a domain name blacklisted by Google or with a shady history. With a quick site search using Google, you can check if the domain is penalty-free. It is also recommended to use Wayback Machine to see if the domain name was ever used and the type of content published.

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You also need to be aware that domains, like properties, are not made equal and that there are some with an inherent value that will make their worth much bigger. As a rule, domain names with three or four letters are expensive, and if they are easy to spell or common (think they are even costlier.

Find the current owner. This task is fairly simple. Using WhoIs you could find out basic contact information about the person that bought the domain. Two things can happen: You actually get a phone number, a name or an email address, or you find out that the owner has used a privacy service and there is no contact info you could use to reach him out.

After you have obtained the information, it’s important to know what type of domain name owner you will be dealing with. Why? Because depending on who they are, they will have different reasons for owning that domain and you’ll need to understand them before even thinking about negotiating with them.

Domain name owners can range from private individuals, corporate sellers, to domain investors. Each of them has their specific challenges. A domain investor usually buys domain names with the goal of reselling them for a big profit. Corporate sellers are more difficult since they probably bought the domain name for undisclosed reasons (they want to keep it off the competition hands, or maybe they want to develop a future product or sister company with your perfect name) and they are not interested in the money the way a domain investor is. Buying from a corporation could take months, if not years. A private individual may pose the lesser problems. They possibly bought the domain name like a form of investment, for email addresses or for a future project. A private individual is perhaps the easiest type of owner you could ask for in case you want to buy a taken domain name.

Contact the owner. Once you have established who your domain owner is, then you should initiate communication. If you have your contact information you could send an email asking the owner if they would be interested in selling their domain. In this first exchange, it is not advisable to talk about prices. Just casually ask if they would be interested in selling it and wait for an answer.

While there is no impediment for establishing direct contact with the owner of a domain name, you should be aware that there are some drawbacks in doing it by yourself, namely:

· Your personal information is exposed. Whether if you are a startup, an established company or an entrepreneur trying to make your way in the business world, the domain owner will know everything about you and they will use that information as leverage to discuss a deal that will favor them.

· If you show too much interest the owner could inflate the price to push you into a bidding war.

· If you are dealing with a domain investor, you are basically dealing with an expert that has the upper hand regarding skills and negotiations techniques.

To avoid these and other obstacles that might get between you and your domain name, you should consider using a domain broker to handle the negotiations with the current domain owner. This way you can protect not only your identity but your business interests, while the domain broker uses his time, expertise, network and inside industry knowledge to discuss the best agreement for you in a secure and accountable way.

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Negotiations and agreement. Negotiation is an art and not everybody is cut for it. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach. If you use a domain broker service, they will look out for you in this regard. Be aware that negotiations can take some time, depending on the type of domain name you are pursuing.

“Whoever who sits across the table from you is likely to be as determined, as smart, and as unpredictable as you are. You can’t dictate their agendas, attitudes, or actions any more than you’d let them dictate yours.”
Harvard Business School Professor Michael Wheeler — The Art of Negotiation

Once the owner and you have come to an agreement on the price, you are on the way to finally get your hands on your desired domain. Your domain broker will support you during the final stage of the agreement and transfer of the domain. The transfer process is usually systematized and when it comes to payment, it is always recommended to use secure payment services like to protect your investment.

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Are you interested in acquiring a domain for your business or startup? Do you need help in deciding what the best course of action is? Contact us today and we will answer any doubts you may have!


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