How to Buy a (registered) Domain Name using Brokerage

shopping for domains (domain buying)

Photo by: Macinate

Have you ever felt screwed because someone on the internet owns your beloved domain name? I can honestly say that I can sleep a little better tonight, since I acquired, the .com brethren of my beloved UK TLD,

How to buy a domain through using domain brokerage

I used SEDO, but there are a number of other recommended domain brokers to choose from. In the past, I’ve worked with services from Godaddy and I’d love to write about them all, but I only bought one domain this time so here’s how it worked with SEDO.

First, you have to register and get your email address approved. Once you’re done with the account activation process, head to the domain brokerage page and fill out the domain search form:

this domain is already registered

If a domain is already registered, complete the domain brokerage application, including any details of previous contact with the domain owner.

The more info you can give to your broker, the better – particulary (failed) attempts to acquire the domain on your own.

fill out the form including information about intended use

Next, comes the fun part. The wait, followed by a torrent of emails explaining that your request has been received, followed by an acceptance and confirmation that the brokerage process has begun.

According to the email you receive:

A broker has been assigned to your account and will begin efforts to establish contact with the owner. Your broker will provide periodic updates via the Brokerage Status page as additional progress is made. Please keep in mind that this can take several weeks. If the broker is unable to negotiate an agreement within your current budget, he or she will contact you for further consultation.

Within a week I received another email announcing that a message awaited me in the brokerage status control panel at This was the message confirming the purchase had been agreed:


Time to make your agreement

At this point you have to reply in writing (by email) to an agreement which looks a little like this:

1. I agree to buy for xxx USD

2. I understand that I, the Buyer will also pay the Sedo fees (10% of the final sales price).

3. I understand that Sedo reserves the right to disclose and publicize the sales price and domain name (otherwise an additional fee of 2.5% will apply to the requesting party).

All of which seems pretty fair. You have to sign the email with your name, address and contact details, making the email reply pretty much a formal contract. No pulling out now!

I’ve agreed and paid, now what?

Once the payment has been sent through, and your domain is held in Escrow, your domain transfer manager asks you to initiate the transfer process. By the way, they (Sedo) accept payments via Paypal. Very handy indeed! Initiating a domain transfer request on your side is really easy too. Login to your existing domain management account and initiate a transfer from there.

The domain owner is contacted by the registrar (usually via email to the administrative contact on the whois details) and, provided the domain owner has unlocked the domain for transfer and provides the AUTH code given by the current registrar, the domain transfer process begins.

How long does it take?

This domain transfer took a week, making the whole domain brokerage process from start to finish take almost exactly 1 month:

domain transfer complete

It’s (amazingly) simple.

This was my first experience of a domain brokerage and I have to say, it was much, much easier than I thought. So, if someone else owns the domain name you’ve been longing for, why not make a move and acquire it for yourself?

Useful resources

SEDO Homepage
SEDO Brokerage Page (Acquire a domain)
Search / Find a domain


  1. Amrit Gill

    Great post Rich- I’ve been toying with the idea of using a broker for a domain I really want. The thought of me trying to haggle it out with someone who labels themselves as a Futurist and SEO all in the same sentence basically means ‘I want a wedge load of your cash because I got there first’ and I really don’t wanna deal with that! So hopefully the authority behind Sedo and the like and well their experience with such characters should hopefully broker a better deal than I ever could.

  2. richardbaxter

    Thanks Amrit. I've just rewritten the second paragraph in this post! It was (kind of) badly put together and I think it makes sense now. I blame the jet lag and the late hour I published the thing. Thanks for the comments bud!

    It's definitely a lot easier using a broker – I'd love to know what the experience is like of being contacted by one if you have a domain that a purchaser wishes to acquire!

  3. Phil Green

    Richard, it might be easier but I'd be surprised if it was better. I've never used a broker to approach someone and I don't think I would either. I think if you do they will just assume its some massive company behind it, and hike the price up accordingly.

    I'm not that impressed with Sedo anyway. I bought a cheap domain through their site, after 2 weeks of no domain I complained – they wrote back saying they can't contact the seller as he gave them a fake phone number, so they were canceling the (legally binding) contract and refunding me.

    I looked up the whois info, emailed the guy and he then agreed to sell. As agents making sure the sale went through, surely that was Sedo's job and not mine.

    Sedo don't have access to any special info, or any way to track down site owners that is not available to you, I'm puzzled why anyone would do it and give them 10% – unless you're chasing a cheap domain for a personal site or something, then I guess the cost isn't such an issue.

    Also its worth nothing, you say Sedo accept Paypal – which is correct, but they won't take it for more than 5000 euros. I bought a domain for more than that recently and they point blank refused to take my payment by paypal – even although I was offering to pay by masspay (paid from balance, so no fees for them) and I've had an account in good standing with both Paypal and Sedo for years, buying a lot of 4 figure domains. Surely the risk there was minimal?

    Sedo to me just seem slow and couldn't care less about customer service, which they can get away with because they are by far the biggest domain market around. So with all of that, I definitely wouldn't be using them as a broker.

  4. richardbaxter

    Hi Philip,

    That's absolutely fair enough, though let's be clear you did mention that you've never used a domain broker before?

    In your example, the owner of the domain in question had already put it up for sale in a public auction. In my example, the domain owner was reluctant to, and though icontacted him and agreed a price by email, he then upped his demand price when it came to exchanging funds.

    On that note, I was also extremely unwilling just to send him money in the hope I'd get a domain at the end of it. Domain brokers hold cash until the transfer is complete so there's a lower risk involved in the transaction.

    If I was dealing with a 4 figure sum, and an untrustworthy domain owner, I wouldn't use any other method than brokerage.

    As for customer service, I thought it was good! They kept me updated and responded to all of my emails in 24 hours.

  5. Internetual

    thanks for post. I think it lays it out really clearly for those wishing to buy a domain. There are quite a few ways brokers can find out who owners are, even behind privacy whois. I wouldn’t say sedo possess particularly bright staff though, but will be able to do the basics. As far as buying privately. It’s not without it’s pitfalls and sending money is a worry. I bought a rather expensive domain from , but they offered to use
    This made it easy as i paid, they transferred domain, and then escrow pass them the money as a middleman. So i would advise that way for expensive purchases from private brokers , sales sites

  6. Rob Taylor


    One thing to note is sedo’s fees are 10% of the selling price, so despite you asking them to aquire a domain, the value for them is in getting the highest price for the seller rather than best value for you.

    Ideally that situation ought to work in reverse!


  7. Ira Fertel

    I have recently had my first experience with selling a domain that I purchased for personal use 5 years ago. Although I never made us of it I kept the registration current.
    About 3 weeks ago I was contacted by a broker at SEDO that he had a client that wanted my domain. After checking up on SEDO I negotiated through them to sell it. The broker was bright and efficient and very cooperative and we came to a deal. No problems with communications or the technical aspects of the sale. They took care of everything they could- and in a timely matter.
    I received the payment yesterday, a little less than 3 weeks after it all began, and netted approximately 100 times what I paid for the domain.
    While it is true that I have not dealt with any other brokers I can honestly say that I have no complaint with SEDO.