Geo Domain Buyer Broker
(I wish I could share the domain name with you but the deal was confidential.)
I was contacted by a new client to broker the purchase of a large non-US city geodomain. We had a good
conversation about his motivation for buying the domain and of course, his budget. He had a good business sense and
was easy to communicate with. He preferred to communicate by email since English was not his first language.
So, I knew that he was "mentally" qualified to chase a big domain like this so now I had to make sure that he
was financially qualified. He said his budget was $50k. My thought was that this MIGHT be possible but most
likely he would have to pay more. Regardless, I edited my standard domain buyer broker agreement
and took on the project but with just a little research, I knew this one was going to be a challenge.
The whois was not private but the owner would prove to be hard to identify. With some help from
DomainTools.com, archive.org and some strategic search engine searching, I was able to
find a good contact phone number for the owner. I always try to pick up the phone and talk with the owner rather
than to engage by email. More often than not, people are very different on the phone than they are by email.
Also, by phone you have the element of surprise where you can gauge their immediate reaction, something you
can't get by email.
I called and left an introductory message with my interest to make a serious offer, my phone number and my email
address. Oddly enough, this owner did not want to talk on the phone and insisted that
we negotiate by email. Like my client, this person's English was not his first language either. I
think time differences were partly responsible for the email preference. Anyway, now I'm thinking this should make
for interesting negotiations... three different languages with each party in a different country as well.
So, here we go with the negotiations. I kick it off with $25k since that really is a respectable starting price
that should get most people to the table. Nope. Counter offer was well into low six figures which was way out of my
client's price range and way to high priced for this geodomain. Sure, this was a large city geodomain we
are talking about but remember, this is a large non-US city so I am confident that this owner hasn't seen too many
offers over $25k.
I ask if I make an offer of $50k if it would be accepted. I propose counter offers this way
because if I just counter with $50k then the seller will think that there is more where that came from. I always
say something like "If I can get my client to make a $50k offer, would that be acceptable?". Also, I like to
mention that IF the $50 is accepted that my client could close quickly without contingencies. A quick closing
and no contingencies can be VERY valuable and always helps to keep the price down.
I get a reply of $90k take it or leave it and that the seller will need a delay of a few weeks in order to
reorganize his business so he could sell the domain. RED FLAG!
Reorganize his business? First, I'm not even sure that I am even dealing with the decision
maker and even if I am, I'm not sure that there isn't some partial owner in the business and/or the
domain so yikes, this deal could fall apart very quickly if I can't verify a clean "title" to the domain.
However, since I like to focus on the positive, the price move down from a $175k original price to $90k is very
positive so if my client can move up from his $50k budget, looks like we MIGHT have a deal.
My client agrees to the $90k and agrees to the delay but insists, appropriately, that he write up the contract
and that the seller have the absolute sole right to sell the domain. Once I get the seller to agree to a price, the
deal usually goes through but in this case, I'm thinking that the language barrier, time differences and question
about ownership inside the seller's company makes for a low expectation for a deal to go through. However, a good
broker always has to focus on the positive aspects of the deal while being prepared for the twists and turns.
Long story short, the seller did have some legal work to do and did have sole ownership. He signed the contract.
The escrow transaction went through just fine and everyone is happy.
Pick up the phone: Always pick up the phone and call the other party. When you call you have
the advantage to gauge the person's reaction without giving them the chance to give their response much thought
which is usually a good thing.
Be positive: Always try to find the positive aspects of the deal but look out for deal killers
like misrepresentations, vague answers, lack of interest to sign a contract and other hints of problems. Usually
deals go through just fine but a good broker earns his/her money when it looks like the deal is falling apart for
one reason or another.