How to Sell Domains Safely - Without Risks

Most of the time you buy domain names to use them for your own projects and have no interest in selling them again. But what if you give up your project or the offered price is too tempting?

Once the decision has been made to sell a domain, it is incredibly important to do it right. Unfortunately, through my job, I often deal with people who have had a rude awakening when they sold their domain. In the best case, they get their money back at a delayed date (but maybe only partially) or they get the domain back. In the worst case, however, it's not uncommon for them to be left with no money and no domain. So the question arises:

How to Sell Domains Safely - Without Risks

For a secure domain sale, it is important to have a written contract that includes all the details of the transaction. This ensures that seller and buyer get what they are entitled to. A simple option is offered by brokerage platforms that specialize in domain trading.

But first, let's take a quick look at how domains are transferred, since this is the basis for everything else.

How to transfer a domain?

In order to transfer a domain to a new holder, a so-called change of holder is carried out. The previous holder, who is registered in the so-called WhoIs directory of the respective domain extension, will be replaced by a new one in case of such a change. To achieve this, there are two possibilities:

Ordinary change of ownership

With the usual domain holder change, a change is requested from the registrar (the provider with whom the domain is registered). Mostly this is initiated via the user interface. To complete this, for most domain extensions an e-mail is sent to the old owner e-mail address and the new one, which must be confirmed.

Once this is done, the change is usually executed immediately and the new set contact is henceforth the legal owner of the domain.

Change of owner for domain transfer

When transferring the domain, a change of ownership can be carried out at the same time for most domain endings. This is legitimized, like the transfer itself, by the transfer code of the domain and does not require any further confirmation by the old holder.

Ergo, any person who receives the transfer code has the possibility to become the legal owner of the domain.

This variant is primarily used when selling domain names, since not only the owner, but also the registrar can be adjusted at the same time.

Risks when selling domains

If you want to sell your domain (or buy one from someone), then the question of the trustworthiness of the other party arises. And that is how it should be. The reason is simple:

Domain names are unique because they can only ever be assigned to one owner. For this reason, domains can have a very high intangible value if the demand for a term is high enough. This can lead to prices in the millions.

So, if one party fails to honor the deal on its part here, it can mean immense financial damage for the other party.

The possible risks...

...for buyers

  • The counterpart does not give the transfer code after payment
  • Counterpart issues wrong transfer code after payment

...for buyers

  • The other party does not pay after receiving the transfer code
  • The other party makes the payment after receiving the transfer code, but withdraws it again

Incidentally, these risks will be virtually non-existent in the future. The reason is that in a few years, such transactions will be routinely linked to so-called smart contracts. These will ensure that all conditions are met and then execute the contract. This topic will be discussed in more detail in this article .

How to sell domain names safely

The trick is to draw up a contract of sale that can be relied upon in the event of fraud. Unfortunately, it is often the case that the buyer and seller are located in different countries, which makes it difficult to have a jurisdiction that will resolve the case in the event of a dispute.

The Internet also offers ideal conditions for not knowing exactly who the other person is.

In the best case, negotiations become extremely expensive and even more time-consuming than would normally already be the case, and in the worst case, impossible and the counterpart remains unmolested.

Since a domain registrar cannot easily intervene in the event of a dispute, it is advisable to look for a secure platform to sell the domain.

There are now numerous websites that specialize in this area. The respective website acts as an intermediary between the seller and the buyer and makes sure that everyone receives their money or transfer code; some websites can also take care of the transfer for you directly.

The sites listed below are only examples and by no means all, but are the ones I am most familiar with:

With such a platform you are well advised in most cases, but you should, if you choose a provider, deal with the terms and conditions. I know this is extremely annoying, but not nearly as annoying as mourning the loss of your domain.

You should be prepared for all eventualities. Which brings me to the next and final point.

Tips for the worst case when selling domains

Normally, you are well advised with the platforms and everything should go smoothly in the majority of sales. But being prepared for the worst case scenario can't hurt, can it?

Preparing for the worst case scenario:

  • Conduct your negotiations in writing only: This way, you have evidence on which you can base yourself if necessary.
  • Make sure your legal protection insurance covers online law: this is more important when the domain sale involves large sums of money.

Steps to take in the worst-case:

  • Search contact to the registry for the respective domain extension: You can usually find them by googling "domain registry" and your domain extension (e.g. ".DE"). Describe your case there. If it's not about country-specific domain extensions, you can find a large overview of registries here:
  • Take legal counsil: When it is about higher amounts, it is certainly not a mistake and ensures a proper further course. There are now several law firms that specialize in online law.
  • File a legal complaint if necessary: Depending on the situation, you can consider filing a complaint. Whether this makes sense and how exactly it works will be answered by your lawyer or possibly by the responsible registration office.

So that's all there is to this topic. I am confident that your domain purchases and sales will go smoothly if you consider the points we have discussed in this article.

And please: if something should go wrong, become active. Again and again, I have to deal with people who, out of shame for having been naive and careless, remained inactive for a long time. This reduces the prospect of justice enormously.

If you can prove things, there is a chance that there will be a resolution and you will see your domain or money again 🙂 .

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