Buying the perfect domain name is a great start for any business. But what if the domain name of your dreams (or business plans) is already owned by someone else?

When you search for your favorite registrar for the domain you want, it may come up unavailable. This can mean it’s privately owned, and unavailable for purchase on the open market. But that doesn’t have to be the end of it.

You can actually buy a domain privately. And it’s actually not difficult, as long as the owner is willing to sell. It can be accomplished in 4 fairly simple steps.

Discover Who Owns Your Dream Domain

The listed owner, if there is one, will be publicly available on the WHOIS directory. Search using the domain you hope to buy, and if there is a publicly listed owner, their info will be shared with you. This may be a private owner’s home address, although it’s also very likely to be a business name, address, and contact information. Occasionally, the listing will be private with no contact information.

Reach the Decision Maker

The information listed on WHOIS will not always take you directly to the person with the authority to sell. One of the fastest ways to shut down the conversation is to ask about buying the domain with someone that doesn’t have the authority to make that decision. Start with the contact information you have and use it to find out who you should be talking to.

Start Negotiating

Actually, before you start negotiating, know your budget and the value of the domain. Then start negotiations, ready to pay what’s fair, and aware of what would be too much for you.

Close the Sale

Once the price is agreed upon, and you’re ready to move forward, you’ll need to pay and to take possession of the URL, which means having your name listed as the domain’s owner at the registrar. The tricky part is that when you’re buying from a private seller- there is no system in place for exchange of money and goods. Either one of you will have to trust the other first, or you need escrow.

Why Use Escrow When Buying a Domain Name?

The service that escrow provides is safety. This is because your escrow company doesn’t release payment for the URL to the seller until everything needed for full possession of the URL is received- seller’s ownership is verified, and it’s not locked into a host or registrar, there are no passwords missing, or other barriers.

This is how you protect your interest as both the buyer and seller of the domain name.  If you have questions about how commercial escrow works, contact Bay Area Escrow.