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You’re starting a new site. You Google the domain name to see if it’s available to take, but it’s already been snatched up by someone else. Bummer.
This happens more often than not, especially if you have a good name in mind.
What are you to do if you really want a domain name that has already been claimed? Or what if you’re sitting on a valuable domain and looking to sell?
Find the best domain broker to work on a negotiation plan and broker a fair deal on your behalf.
Here, I dive into the best domain brokers currently on the market that’ll help you do all the heavy lifting to acquire—or sell—a domain. And if you are on the fence about whether or not you really need a domain broker, I’ve included some other options that might work as well.
#1 – Namecheap — The Best If You Can Afford to Be Flexible About Your Domain Name Extension
Are you wedded to getting that perfect .com domain name or are you a little more flexible about the exact wording and domain extension?
If you have a little wiggle room and you’re willing to be inventive, I suggest seeing what you can get on Namecheap. This is a domain registrar, not a broker, but you’re going to find an outrageous selection of available domain names for way less than you would be able to get through a broker.
You won’t get help negotiating—it’s totally DIY, whether you are buying or selling—but you won’t pay any upfront fees and there’s only a 10% commission fee on domains you sell through the marketplace platform.
And if you buy your new domain name directly from Namecheap, there’s no commission at all.
I think you’d be surprised about what you can find. There are domains on Namecheap available for $0.99 for the first year. You won’t get a .com or a .org for that price, but many of the new extensions like .store or .link are available. And .com names start at $8.88 for the first year.
The reason I recommend Namecheap to people considering a domain broker is that they don’t always know what’s out there. They may be twisting themselves into knots trying to get a five-star domain name when there is something perfectly serviceable out there for purchase right now.
If you can afford to be flexible, Namecheap will help you find something. The search tool is amazing. You can enter up to 5,000 keywords in the search tool’s Beast Mode. This will produce thousands of results for open domains with those keywords.
Beast Mode can also offer suggestions based on transforming your keywords. Say you are looking for hireme.com—Beast Mode will find hire.me, for example.
Basically, it automates a lot of the strategies I advocate using when your dream domain name is unavailable.
The marketplace on Namecheap is very easy to use. It’s peer-to-peer, the only catch is that any domains on there have been purchased through Namecheap already. So if you wanted to sell or resell a domain on Namecheap’s marketplace, it would have to be one you already bought through them. Just be aware that 10% comes out of your final sale as commission to Namecheap.
Namecheap takes care of all the backend transactional stuff, so you’re not drawing up purchase agreements with people you’re never going to talk to again.
Odds are you’ll be able to find something very affordable, especially if you are willing to go with a newer domain extension.
Namecheap isn’t a broker per se, but they serve as the missing puzzle piece in much the same way. Go explore their bottomless list of available domains and see how little you need to spend to get something that works.
#2 – Domain.com — The Best for Buying .com Domains Without a Broker
It must be a good sign when a domain registrar itself owns the best domain name for its industry. Domain.com isn’t a true domain broker because you won’t be able to sell through them, but they are the premier destination for scooping up prime internet real estate on your own.
So, if you aren’t ready to shell out a commission fee for a broker, but you want a solid domain name with a .com extension, this is the first place you should look.
Namecheap is another good registrar for snagging domains yourself, but Domain.com has a more extensive selection of premium .com domain names.
Domain.com offers both a standard domain search and one for premium domains. As more and more common words and phrases have gotten claimed over the years, it’s become harder to get a .com that’s short and easy to remember.
With Domain.com’s premium domain search, though, you can grab one of these for your site.
Now, they won’t come cheap. A quick search will likely return some eye-popping price tags for domain names you had your heart set on.
But the helpful folks at Domain.com are available to help secure your dream URL at a price you can stomach. Their staff is available 24/7 via phone or live chat. In this way, Domain.com functions like a brokerage, because you have their assistance and guidance throughout the purchasing process if you need it.
It’s not going to be the white-glove service you get with a true domain broker, but you’re also not going to be paying 15-20% commission on top of the price of the domain.
And, even if the initial purchase is expensive, premium domains bought through Domain.com won’t renew at an exorbitant price. Instead, they will renew at the standard rates for the extension.
So, even if you buy a .com for several hundred dollars, it will renew at just $9.99 for one year, $19.98 for two, and so on.
And, as a registrar instead of a broker, Domain.com serves as a one-stop shop for everything you need. You can get web hosting, email, SSL certificates, and increased security for your new site. In short, you can purchase everything you need to protect and grow your investment.
If you aren’t ready to hire a broker, Domain.com is your best bet for securing a premium domain on your own.
I’m talking about two-word .com domains that are easy to remember. You can get less-coveted types of domain names and newer domain extensions on Domain.com, but Namecheap will probably be more affordable.
Domain.com is a great marriage of traditional domain registrar, detailed domain search, and brokerage-level support and assistance.If you want to stake your claim to a prime domain name, start searching through Domain.com today.
#3 – GoDaddy Domain Brokerage — The Best for Buying Domains Under $5,000
Tons of people use GoDaddy Domain Brokerage to buy a domain name that’s currently owned by someone else. Here’s why: it’s really straight-forward to use and there is virtually no work on your end.
Plus, GoDaddy brokers will go after any domain you want, regardless of the price.
I recommend it highly for people that don’t want to spend more than $5,000 on a domain. The harsh truth is that this is a fairly low number in this space. A .com domain with words you’d find in a real dictionary is usually going to cost five to six figures—maybe a lot more.
You’ll find that GoDaddy has a higher commission rate (20%) than what you get by going with a smaller domain broker. The trouble is that those smaller firms don’t always agree to take on clients looking to buy small fish domains of less than $5,000.
GoDaddy doesn’t care about the cost. Once you connect with a broker, they will chase down any domain your heart desires. So if your budget tops out at a few thousand bucks, GoDaddy is a great place to start.
Simply reach out to GoDaddy and tell them the domain you want. You’ll get an email back asking you to name the price you are willing to pay.
From there, GoDaddy handles everything else. The broker spends up to 30 days tracking down the domain owner and trying to negotiate a price. If the broker is successful, the domain is yours. Simply follow the guided steps and you’ll be in control.
It’s not impossible to get a domain on your own, but GoDaddy takes out all the legwork. Plus, the company has a ton of name recognition. Instead of you reaching out as a private individual or company, the seller is dealing with one of the biggest names in the business. Both parties are going to feel more comfortable having a trusted broker handle the arrangements.
GoDaddy takes care of all the legal legwork, too, but you won’t provide the strategic guidance that other domain brokers offer. This is basically a simple point-and-shoot service.
An upfront fee of $119.99 is required to start and GoDaddy takes a 20% commission if the deal goes through. Do note that you won’t get the fee back if the sale doesn’t go through.
The higher-than-average commission rate and upfront fees are a reflection of the fact that GoDaddy will broker deals of any size. Other firms can afford lower commissions and waive upfront costs because they only take on deals above $5,000.
Essentially, the other brokers can afford to take a smaller slice because they are only ever going after a bigger pie.
$5,000 is not a hard and fast number. But if you are in this neighborhood, you may have difficulty finding a broker who’s not going to charge an upfront fee to make it worth their time.
GoDaddy won’t broker sales, but you can use the company’s auction site to sell a domain. There’s also a free domain appraisal tool, which can help you figure out where to start the bidding.
Not everyone is looking to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a domain name. They still want a broker to get things done fast and right the first time.
With GoDaddy Domain Brokerage, the transaction is as smooth and hands-off as possible. If you can spell the domain you want, GoDaddy will make a run at it for you.
#4 – VPN.com — The Best for Keeping Your Identity Under Wraps
VPN.com can help you broker the sale or acquisition of a domain if you want to stay anonymous.
The company specializes in strategic stealth acquisitions, working on behalf of Fortune 500 companies, founders, high-net-worth individuals, and other organizations that need to fly below the radar.
The truth is that people with resources are often forced to overspend to get domain names. I don’t want to speak ill of domain owners out there, but some have been known to turn the screws on potential buyers because they know they can.
VPN.com keeps this from happening. Masters of discretion, the company is a favorite for celebrities, athletes, politicians, and other people that have to be conscious about sharing their identity.
Think about it. What’s a domain owner going to charge when the seller hears that Oprah wants it?
These stealth acquisitions take finesse and experience to manage properly. The simple act of inquiring about a particular domain name gives a lot of information away. VPN.com knows just how to handle all of the communications to keep your name out of sight until the ink is dry.
Unlike a lot of the other top domain brokers, VPN.com offers a range of online services. As you might guess, the company handles virtual private networks (VPNs). Secure communications are not a problem.
For people that need to jump through the hoops of a stealth acquisition, VPN.com will help you protect your investment. The company has in-house legal counsel. You’ll know what to do if people are infringing on your domain and be able to register your brand in every country.
There are absolutely no upfront costs, though VPN.com typically works with buyers and sellers of domains worth more than $5,000.
I’m guessing the crowd interested in stealth acquisitions will be onboard with that, but I wanted to mention it. If your sale is successful, there is a 15% commission.
For those who require the utmost discretion, VPN.com is a domain broker you can work with. And if you have a premium domain to sell, and you are not sure what it’s worth, reach out to VPN.com for a free appraisal today.
#5 – Domain Booth — The Lowest Commission for a Top Domain Broker
In the future, I could see DomainBooth charging insane rates for their brokerage service. But for now, you can get one of the best domain brokers on the market for an exceptionally low 12.5% commission.
So, you’re still going to pay, but it’s 2.5% lower than other top-quality brokers. If you are negotiating a deal for a five- or six-figure domain, the savings can be significant.
DomainBooth is something of a recent arrival on the domain broker scene. In 2015, then-26 year old founder James Booth made quite a splash by brokering more than $5 million in domain names in his company’s first 12 months.
This was no flash in the pan, either. Today, DomainBooth is one of the top performing domain brokers, outpacing some of the established players in the game. Booth actually had the second highest domain sales of any broker in 2020, according to Escrow.com.
The firm specializes in extremely short domains–two letters, a number and a letter, three letters, and one-word domains for the most part. I would definitely talk further with DomainBooth if you are interested in something like this.
There’s just not another broker of this calibur charging such low commissions. The minimum fee for buying is $500 and for selling it’s $1,000, which is to say the company is focused on buying domains greater than $5,000 and selling those greater than $10,000.
You will not pay a dime unless DomainBooth is successful in negotiating the deal.
For as young a company as it is, DomainBooth has developed a rich network of buyers and sellers. You can list your domain for sale in the DomainBooth newsletter for $750. This puts it in front of a lot of interested buyers in different markets who you would be hard pressed to reach on your own.
By getting DomainBooth as your broker, you’re putting yourself in a good position to get the most value out of your purchase or sale. There’s still a commission, but it’s not going to be as high as it is for other brokers with similar performance.
Get in touch with DomainBooth today for help securing or selling a premium domain.
#6 – Grit Brokerage — The Best If You Regularly Buy Premium Domains
Grit Brokerage is one of the recognized players in the space. The company has negotiated big-name deals and helped brands secure their position online.
I recommend them to businesses that are in the market for premium domains frequently. It may not be something you need all the time, but it’s also not enough for you to get a single solid domain for your company and be done with it.
If you have to work domain acquisition into your overall brand and marketing strategy, Grit Brokerage is an ideal broker to work with. It’s like having a domain expert in your office, except they’re not on the full-time payroll.
The company can walk you through the ins and outs of upgrading to a better domain in your industry, or branching out and capitalizing on a multiple domain SEO strategy.
Grit.org is the parent company of Grit Brokerage. The organization is focused on empowering people to build better companies and communities. If you work with Grit, its brokers will invest their time in helping you grow by acquiring the right domains at a fair price.
This is a challenge, even for companies with deep pockets and bright ideas. It took Elon Musk more than a decade and $11 million to get tesla.com. Until then, the company had settled for teslamotors.com and constantly took a hit in search rankings.
Not everyone’s battle to get the top domain is so brutal, but it’s never easy these days.
You’ll have to get in touch with Grit Brokerage for pricing, but it’s not hard to make contact. The founder and senior partners all have their cell phones listed on the website. Imagine the kind of service and availability they provide to paying clients.
Whether you’re a frequent buyer or a seller, Grit Brokerage can help you over the long haul. Get in touch directly and begin a productive relationship today.
#7 – MediaOptions — The Best for Domains Over $75,000
If you are going after that perfect domain name—maybe it’s an exact match to your business name or a major keyword in your industry—it’s not going to be cheap.
And it’s going to be ludicrously expensive if you don’t have a seasoned negotiator in your corner.
When you don’t have flexibility—you need that domain—it’s time to call up MediaOptions and get help from the most successful company in the business.
It was founded by Andrew Rosener, who has been the top domain broker in the world for the last three years according to Escrow.com. He’s the creator of the Rosener Equation, which people use to value domains, and has testified in court as an expert witness on domains.
Rosener’s knowledge of the space is a big part of MediaOptions’ continued success. The company has brokered hundreds of millions of dollars in domain deals over more than a decade in business.
I highly recommend this broker for businesses that need a prime piece of web real estate. MediaOptions has a lot of experience with stealth acquisitions as well as a track record of locating domain owners that don’t want to be found.
Essentially, MediaOptions has mastered every step of the domain acquisition process that trips people up. You won’t spin your tires trying to track down and convince a domain owner who doesn’t want to sell. The expert broker knows how to get the best outcome in that touchy conversation.
And, because MediaOptions knows how to play the game, your identity will remain hidden. So you won’t be over a barrel to get the exact domain you want.
I also recommend MediaOptions if you have a high value domain to sell. Over two decades, the company has crafted the most successful outbound sales process of any brokerage. This includes a rich network of buyers and sellers, the top domain newsletter in the industry, and timely press releases.
There is no better team to hire, and MediaOptions can afford to be choosy about their clientele. To qualify for premium domain brokerages services, the domain in question must have a sale value of $75,000 or higher.
Generally speaking, this is going to be domains that are one or two words with a meaningful volume of exact match search.
If that description sounds like what you are looking for, five or six figures (if not more) is very normal. Acquiring one of these domains will pay for itself very quickly by catapulting your sites to the top of Google’s page one search results.
Because these ultra-premium domains are so valuable, negotiating their sale or acquisition takes someone who knows what they are doing. You should anticipate that the party on the other end of your potential deal has an expert on their side. So should you.
MediaOptions is your best bet. The company’s results and reputation speaks for itself. The fact they charge 15% commission is another plus. I know it’s standard rate for the industry—but, given MediaOptions success, I feel like they could charge more.
If you need the best, and you are willing to spend to get it, having MediaOptions as your domain broker will give you the best chance at a good outcome. Get in touch today.
What I Looked At To Find The Best Domain Brokers
There are a few basic ground rules for choosing domain brokers because there is literally zero certification required.
Anyone can say they are a domain broker, but you should only consider ones that:
- Have been around for a few years, at least
- Maintain a spotless reputation
- Use a recognized payment system, such as PayPal or Escrow.com
- Handle all of the negotiations confidentially
If you are going to hire a broker, this is the bare minimum. There’s a lot of money changing hands online for domain names. The market attracts scammers you definitely want to avoid.
All my recommendations for domain brokers have you covered. They are well-known and respected in the industry, and they will be able to steer you clear of the people who aren’t.
Now, there’s a range of broker services out there. You can get help with the nuts and bolts of the deal, so you’re not drawing up purchase agreements or tracking down a domain owner.
Some domain brokers offer more of a consulting relationship. They help you with domain marketing, acquisitions, and strategy to establish and protect your brand over the long term.
There’s a ton to know about domains and it’s always changing. Getting a good domain broker means you don’t have to worry about any of it.
You really only have to focus on a few things in order to connect with the right one.
How Important Is the Exact Domain?
The significance you attach to a particular domain name determines the type of broker you should be looking for. Let me explain with two examples:
- Example 1: You need a domain that’s short, easy to say and spell, and you want it right now. The exact name is not a huge deal. Ideally, the name is related to your business, but you’re flexible and willing to be inventive.
- Example 2: You have trademarked your business, you know the exact domain name you want, and it can’t be anything else. You are willing to spend as much time and money as it’s going to take to get this exact domain name.
Both of these people could benefit from domain brokers, but they need very different types of service.
If the exact domain name isn’t the end of the world, you could start simply by seeing what’s out there. Namecheap and Domain.com make it very easy to be your own broker, even if you’ve never bought a domain before.
Alternatively, you could reach out to GoDaddy Domain Brokerage if you don’t want to deal with an auction or the back-and-forth of negotiations. Simply tell the broker what you want and how much you’re willing to pay, and GoDaddy will spend the next 30 days trying to make it happen.
Now, if you are going after a specific domain and can’t compromise, I highly recommend getting help from someone like VPN.com, Grit Brokerage, DomainBooth, or MediaOptions.
These folks know the space—which is crucial, because getting the exact domain you want at a fair price is really challenging.
Even just finding the person who owns the domain can be impossible. I’m serious. Sometimes the owners don’t want to be found. They bought the domain years ago for some pet project that didn’t take off, and now—out of inertia or spite—they won’t let go.
Whatever the reason, these domain owners are tired of being pestered by people. It’s not uncommon for them to set up dummy accounts, fake addresses in other countries, and a whole mess of obstacles to keep people away.
The really expert domain brokers know how to get around all these barriers and track people down like a sheriff on the frontier.
Here’s the other thing to think about if you are in the market for an exact name domain: everyone knows they are valuable. There’s no low-hanging fruit left.
Whoever owns the domain you want so badly is probably not some schlub. They might even sell domains for a living. If you approach that negotiation without someone on your side who knows as much as the seller does, things could go south quickly.
Upfront Costs and Commissions
Domain brokers all charge for their service a little differently. It’s important to understand exactly how this works. You may wind up paying fees even if you don’t get the domain you want.
Some brokers charge an upfront fee to get started and then take a commission based on a percentage of the sale.
Keep a close eye on this percentage, as premium domains are often five and six figures. Commissions will add a significant extra expense to the price of a domain, or cut into the profits of one you sell through a broker.
Even if you choose to be your own broker on Domain.com, there’s still a commission for using the platform to execute your trade.
You’ll find that some brokers work only on commission. There’s no upfront fee. These firms only see money if they get you what you want at a price you’re willing to pay.
If your budget is not that high, the commission-only brokers may not take you on as a client. They are not massive companies and can’t afford to spend their time negotiating deals with a small commission.
On the other hand, GoDaddy charges an upfront fee but its brokers will go after whatever you want. Just point and shoot.
A 10-20% commission fee is within the standard range. I know it’s going to be a chunk of change, but it can be totally worth it.
The best domain brokers are in business because they consistently help clients get a better deal than they could by themselves. They can help you acquire a domain for a fraction of what it would cost on the open market. If you are selling, they can get you max out the value of your sale.
At the end of the day, using a domain broker is a strategy, not a turnkey solution. You have to understand the pricing structure in order to pick an appropriate broker and avoid surprises down the line.
What if you don’t want people to know you’re a buyer or a seller? Like it’s really important that your identity or the name of your business is kept totally under wraps?
All the brokers I looked at keep your identity shielded to some extent, but sometimes it requires a little more finesse. If anonymity is a must for you, you’ll want to find a broker that specializes in stealth acquisitions.
Here’s why it’s important.
If the person who owns a domain gets a call from a broker, they automatically know that there’s significant interest in their online property. Someone hired the broker, after all.
Put yourself in the seller’s shoes. They’re going to try and get as much money as they possibly can from the sale. Wouldn’t you?
The only thing stopping them from jacking up the price is what they believe you are willing to pay. So, if they can do a little research and find out that you are a company with deep pockets or a startup that just got funding, they’re going to aim for the top of your budget.
Just because you can spend six or seven figures for a domain doesn’t mean you want to.
Whatever your reason for staying anonymous, if it is a major concern, you want to pick one broker that knows how to execute stealth acquisitions. When you get in touch, ask them about war stories and some of the crazy maneuvers they’ve had to pull in order to get their clients their dream domain.
If they’re really good at this, the broker is going to have no shortage of ridiculous-sounding tales about the games they’ve played to broker touchy deals. That’s my experience, anyway. You have to work with someone who knows how to play the game.
VPN.com has a track record of negotiating domain acquisitions for politicians, celebrities, and organizations with really well-known brands. It’s a good place to start. MediaOptions and DomainBooth would also be worth shortlisting, if you need discretion.
An effective domain broker makes the process of acquiring or selling a domain a breeze.
Let’s face it, selling or buying a domain successfully can take a lot of upfront work. Once you’ve researched which domain name you want and made sure it’s already registered, the next step is to look into which domain broker fits your needs.
As they say, domain brokers aren’t all created equal. Here’s a quick rundown of the domain brokers I recommend and reviewed here:
- Namecheap – The best if you can afford to be flexible about your domain name extension
- Domain.com – The best for buying .com domains without a broker
- GoDaddy Domain Brokerage – The best for buying domains under $5,000
- VPN.com – The best for keeping your identity under wraps
- Domain Booth – The lowest commission for a top domain broker
- Grit Brokerage – The best if you regularly buy premium domains
- MediaOptions – The best for domains over $75,000
Now I’d like to hear from you. Are there any domain brokers you’ve had a great experience with worth mentioning? Let me know in the comments. I’m all ears!
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