Domain brokers – what are they and what do I need to know?

These days, a domain is more than just a web address. It can be part of your corporate identity, the difference between SEO success or failure, and a way of making money. The ways in which this all works will be explained below while highlighting the importance of a domain broker. This is a profession that looks to help businesses tackle the online world of domains and domain trade. Understanding what domain name brokers do might even convince you to enlist the help of one in your next business venture. Let’s take a look at what domain name brokers are, why they’re useful, what the process of domain brokerage is, and what it all costs.

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What is a domain broker?

First things first – what is a domain broker? Think of domain brokers as the real estate agents of the Internet, the insurance brokers of websites. When you’re buying a house or taking out life insurance, you consult an expert, right? And a domain name broker is precisely that – an expert for domain name trade. If you’re unsure about what a domain is, then we can best describe it as the address of a website on the Internet – it’s what you type into the web browser to access a specific website. That’s a domain in a nutshell. You can read more about it in our dedicated article on what a domain is.

Domain brokers can help you make money with domains – as they themselves do exactly that. Domain name brokers are in the business of buying and selling domain names, which can be a real challenge. Because domains can cost over a million dollars – the most expensive domain ever sold was $1,200,000 – it’s important to know what you’re doing when you’re getting into the domain name trade. Domains don’t need to cost seven figures for a domain broker to be of use – ultimately, if you need help buying or selling a good domain for your business, a domain name broker can be a great help. Let’s take a closer look at what kinds of domain brokers exist, and what the buying and selling process looks like with a domain broker.

What kinds of domain brokers are there?

There are two main types of broker – which are directly related to the two processes in domain name brokerage – buying and selling brokers. Some brokers do both, but often, domain brokers specialise in either buying or selling.

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Sometimes the two terms can get switched – which is confusing. A buyer broker might be referred to as the broker that helps you find a buyer, whilst a seller broker is sometimes referred to as the broker that helps you find a seller. We find that defining brokers by the way they conduct business on your behalf is more intuitive. In other words, what is meant by buyer brokers throughout this article (and in lots of different business settings) are brokers who help you buy, while seller brokers help you sell.

When should I enlist a domain name broker?

A domain name broker can help your business get the domain it wants, which can be tricky if the domain required by your business is already owned. This can happen if someone has ‘parked’ a domain – which you can learn more about in our article dedicated to domain parking – to earn money. There’s nothing wrong with domain parking in itself – but it sometimes gets a bad rap as it gets confused with URL hijacking. If you’re looking to earn money with domains, you might also start domain parking – but definitely not URL hijacking! If you want to start trading domain names, then hiring a domain name broker is ideal, simply because they have the expertise and network that you won’t have access to in the beginning.

You may have already owned the domain you want and run a successful business with it – essentially increasing the value of the domain – and then had the domain expire and lost it if it was bought up by someone else later. Enlisting a domain broker can help you negotiate it back, which takes us on to what the advantages of a domain broker are.

What are the advantages of a domain broker?

So, you know what a domain broker does (buy and sell domains on behalf of others), and you know when they can be helpful (acquiring or selling a domain). Why is it a good idea to hire a domain name broker? Does it make sense for your business to hire a domain broker? Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of a domain name broker:

  • Confidential and anonymous: If you’re looking to buy a domain, it can be helpful to remain anonymous. A broker will represent you, and it means the other party doesn’t know whether you’re a big business or an SME. This means that you can benefit from the best price – if the other seller knows who you are, they might change the price to a worse deal.
     
  • Negotiation experience: Lots of us don’t like confrontation. Or haggling. Luckily, we can avoid both by hiring a domain broker, who can do this hard work for you. And because they have lots of experience, you can rest easy knowing a fair deal will be struck.
     
  • Advice: There are occasions where your dream domain might be outside of your budget, or simply not good for optimal SEO. Your domain broker can give you lots of good advice for finding an alternative domain, or picking one which has great SEO potential.

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What happens when buying or selling a domain with a domain broker?

If you’re almost set on hiring a domain name broker, but still not quite sure what that would mean in practice, it might be helpful for you to understand what the process of domainbrokeragelooks like. Here’s what the process of buying or selling domain looks like with a domain broker.

Finding the right domain broker

This is the first step. Finding the right buyer or seller broker might depend on a few things, such as how much you want to spend and the timeframe (see step two). What’s also important is how well you get on with the broker, as you will potentially be discussing large sums of money and your corporate identity. Check what your broker charges and for what, as this will vary depending on their field of expertise and experience.

Budget and timeframe

This input will, again, largely come from you. Discussing your timeframe is important as this might relate to how your domain broker is paid – are they paid by the hour or on commission? Additionally, if you need your website to be up and running in two months, this will be important information for your broker. If you’re selling, you might not have as much urgency – but it is still worth discussing. Of course, your budget for how much you can or want to spend on your domain will be important for your broker to know, or if you’re selling, then agreeing to a minimum selling price.

Contacting domain owner/contacting interested parties

This is where the broker will take over. For buyer brokers, they’ll get to work in contacting the domain owner to negotiate a sale. This is where the networking skills and connections of your domain broker come into their own, and you can sit back and relax (or sit on the edge on your seat in excitement) whilst your broker tries to get you the best price.

For seller brokers, a network is even more important, as they will be able to contact those interested in the domain and spread the word that a potentially coveted domain is on the market. This saves you having to put that legwork in and means you might get a better sale because your broker will know the best audience for your particular domain.

Agreeing a sale

The final step will often happen in consultation with you – unless you’ve agreed on very specific terms with your domain broker. If you’ve been offered a price for a domain, your broker might confirm that this works for you, or simply go ahead and purchase it, if you’ve authorised them to do so. This final step can take a bit of time if there are lots of negotiations involved. The same is true for selling a domain, too.

Tip

Phew! That is quite the process, isn’t it? While there are plenty of advantages to using a domain broker, you might be able to skip the process if your domain name is available. We’ve got some tips for registering your domain – and we can also help you register your very own domain, too! Registering your domain with IONOS is affordable and easy to set up – check it out today!

What does a domain broker charge?

This largely depends on what kind of broker you’re dealing with. There are lots of different ways that brokers get compensated, but there are general trends depending on whether you’re working with a buyer broker or a seller broker. Let’s take a look at each.

Buyer brokers

A buyer broker might charge per hour of consultation or negotiation, for example, or suggest a flat fee once your timeframe and budget are clear. Because this kind of broker is trying to get you the best deal, a commission doesn’t make sense, because you run the risk of the broker not getting the lowest price (because this would lower their commission).

Seller brokers

Buyer brokers usually charge 15-20% of what they managed to sell your domain for. So, they will earn more if your domain sells for more. Good for both sides. The pressure is on the brokers’ side, as lots of them only take payment once a transaction is completed. You only pay when you get money for your domain. Sometimes seller brokers will also charge per hour though. It is unusual for a broker to charge a flat fee for sales, but it can come up.


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