James Maskell

Buying a Domain from HugeDomains

29 February 2012

Finding the right domain name for your business is one of the biggest difficulties in getting started. The vast majority of domains that you search for are likely taken - often by a “dominainer” - a person or company who buys up domain names with the hope of selling them on for a huge markup.

HugeDomains is one such company and we had to buy vinetrade.com from them in December 2011. I’ve never bought a domain from such a company in the past and thought a specific list of do’s and dont’s based on my specific experience with HugeDomains would be helpful.

Here’s my advice:

  1. Do you really need that domain? Having a .com of your name (especially if its a good name) can make a big difference to your chances of success but its worth spending some time trying to come up with some alternatives.
  2. If you can afford it - buy it. If the domain is offered at a price that you would be willing to pay (and you can afford it) just buy it. Vinetrade was originally priced around $1100 (I can’t remember the exact amount). I sent an email trying to negotiate on price - but got told to make a better offer. My second offer was ignored.
  3. If you negotiate offer a good price. What should offer depends on the specific domain and its value to you. But offer a good amount close to the asking price. I think my initial offer was $500 and I didn’t get taken seriously.
  4. Do not keep visiting the domain or checking the price. I left the domain for a few weeks and when I next checked the price had reduced to around $900. I should have just bought the domain but decided to sleep on it and discuss it with Mark (my co-founder) the next day. When I was ready to purchase the domain the price had gone up to $1800. My guess is that HugeDomains monitors the number of times the domain is viewed and automatically adjusts the price accordingly. If no one visits the domain they’ll likely reduce the price, if it is getting a lot of hits they’ll increase the price.

In the end we bit the bullet and paid the full asking price for the domain. We could have tried to negotiate again but we didn’t want to risk giving away just how much we wanted the domain (or waiting any longer to buy it). While we could afford $1800 we had limited cash reserves and didn’t want to price ourselves out.

Once we had bought the domain it was relatively easy to transfer it over to Namecheap where I have most of my non-UK domains. I was concerned about this being difficult and getting hit with sneaky fees but this wasn’t the case. The whois registration information was also updated immediately after the sale completed.

This post is specific to my experience with HugeDomains. I’d recommend reading Fred Wilson’s take on buying domains along with the first comment on his post for more general advice. Reading Fred’s post and the comment made me realise what a good deal we got with vinetrade.com - even though we paid double what we could have.