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The quick guide to domain brokers

By Kira Taylor

In a flash of inspiration, you’ve chosen the perfect .CA domain name for your website.

It’s punchy, it’s witty…it’s perfect.

Palms sweating, heart aflutter—you search for that brilliant .CA domain name…and find out it already belongs to someone else.

Ooof, how anti-climactic.

But—hang on…if this truly is the domain name you can’t succeed without, then what’s your next move?

Assuming you can hunt down the domain name’s owner, do you send them an expensive edible arrangement or two in hopes that they’ll sell to you? Offer up the keys to your ’98 Subaru?

Whatever your approach, buying an already-taken domain name can be a tricky, time-consuming and potentially expensive quest with plenty of twists and turns.

But take heart, friend—all is not lost! That domain name can still be yours…but you may need to call in the professionals. By that, we mean a domain broker service.

What is a domain broker service?

Domain brokers are kind of like the internet’s version of real estate agents. But rather than condos and cottages, they’re exclusively in the business of buying and selling domain names.

Like Liam Neeson in Taken, domain brokers have a very particular set of (negotiation) skills.

How do domain brokers work?

First—they’ll work with you to understand what domain (or domains) you’re looking to buy, as well as your budget and timeframe.

Next, your broker will come back to you with a report that includes things like the domain’s ownership history, whether it’s been trademarked and what its current value would be on the open market.

Based on their report, you can either walk away or give your broker the go-ahead to enter negotiations with the domain name’s owner. The broker will then contact the owner on your behalf while keeping your identity completely confidential.

Why is anonymity important? If a seller knows who is trying to buy their domain (i.e., a large company, jilted ex-lover, arch nemesis, etc.) that could cause prices to skyrocket.

From a negotiation standpoint, the best domain brokers in the business have the patience and skills to keep conversations business focused, professional and unemotional. They will also work to ensure you, the buyer, are kept in the loop as negotiations go on, and don’t get stuck paying above market value for your domain.

Then—finally—once you’ve agreed to a sale price (that meets your budget), domain name brokers help facilitate payment and handle all the paperwork involved with transferring domain ownership over to you.

What to know before going with a domain broker

So, now you’re probably thinking, “Well, geez CIRA, this all sounds great, but how much are the domain broker’s services going to cost me?”

That honestly depends on the domain brokerage, but most follow a few consistent pricing models. For instance, some might take a 10 to 15 per cent cut of the domain sale, while others charge a per hour or per-project fee. Make sure you get a detailed breakdown of your chosen broker’s fee structure before you get started.

It also never hurts to dig in and do a bit of research and comparison shopping. Be forewarned that there’s currently no licensing or educational requirements to be a domain broker, so the market will have its fair share of seasoned pros and…less-than-average-joes.

So, read reviews and get referrals from trusted sources (if you can) to ensure you’re making the right choice.

Also—when speaking to a potential domain broker—don’t be afraid to ask questions! Here are a few ideas:

  • What clients have they worked with in the past?
  • What does their overall process look like?
  • How can you expect to be updated throughout the negotiation process?
  • What kind of commission do they charge after a successful sale?

Last thing: while domain name broker services are a great option, they’re far from the only avenue you could pursue. Check out our blog for even more tips on what to do if the domain name you want is taken!

Happy domain name hunting…and may the negotiations and transactions be smooth and fruitful!

About the author
Kira Taylor

Kira is the Marketing & Channel Specialist at CIRA. She focuses on content, digital marketing and channel strategies to help Canadian business owners make the right domain choice for their business website so they can find success online.