What is domain brokering and how does it work? - Webnames Blog

What is domain brokering and how does it work?

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Domain Brokering is a service that helps you acquire a domain name currently owned by a third party, where the domain broker acts as your representative in a research, negotiation and domain acquisition capacity, for a fee and/or commission.

For anyone doing business today, a website is far more than just a checkbox – it’s a customer expectation and a vital sales channel. According to Google and Ipsos Research, 86% of Canadians are shopping for something at any given moment and more than half of Canadian shoppers say that they begin that process online. Perhaps most importantly, 9 out 10 Canadians are not certain of what brand they want to buy when they begin their online research.

With Canadian consumers relying upon the internet more than ever, not having a website guarantees you’ll be missing out on a whole lot of potential customers.

But before you get into planning your sitemap or your colour scheme—you need the right domain name.

A business’s domain name is one of its most important brand and marketing assets – in addition to how that business is found online. A great domain name goes a long way when it comes to brand impact, establishing brand credibility, and generating visibility on search engines like Google. There’s a reason why Tesla spent in excess of 10-million to move to “Tesla.com” from Teslamotors.com, after all.

Now suppose the perfect domain name for your brand is taken. No matter what alternatives you come up with, nothing seems quite as good as the one you really want. What do you do then?

Well, that’s when you get a domain broker involved.

What is a domain broker?

Domain broker in an office holding a book

A domain broker serves as an intermediary to negotiate the acquisition of a domain name on your behalf. Domain brokers are experts who will review the domain you’re hoping to acquire and provide you with a cost and valuation. From there, brokers will contact and negotiate with the domain’s current owner to make the acquisition.

The number of different domain names that are available is endless, but if you’re a business or an individual looking for a very specific name—it’s likely that you’ll need to enlist the help of a domain name broker.

Why use a Domain Brokering Service instead of doing it yourself?

Domain brokers have years of experience in identifying, negotiating, and acquiring domain names. A domain acquisition includes several nuances such as security, privacy, confidentiality, and financial verifiability that that are handled by domain brokers on your behalf.

Each scenario is going to be very different, and the outcome of a negotiation isn’t predictable. Negotiations may last days, weeks or months. In the case of Telsa.com, it took 10-years to finally acquire that domain name from its entrenched owner, whereas other owners are motivated to sell and indeed, have registered domain names as an investment strategy with selling as the ultimate goal. The process will likely require you to be patient, and to build some flexibility into your budget to make the acquisition.

The duration of a brokering service process may vary from broker to broker, but often, a broker will guarantee to pursue the domain name for a defined period of time, and often continue beyond that if both parties are remain motivated to make the sale happen and need more time.

In short, domain brokering is right for you if:

  • You’re looking to acquire a domain name owned by someone else, and there are no suitable alternatives that you are content to settle for
  • You’re willing to be patient during negotiations
  • You’re willing to pay a premium price for price and have some flexibility in with your budget

How domain brokering works

Closeup of a domain broker taking notes

The specifics of the domain brokering process can vary depending on the domain broker or domain brokering service you choose, so for the purposes of this article we’ll run through how the process works at Webnames.

Step 1: Research and Appraisal Phase

After filling out a short form, one of our experienced domain brokers will contact you to collect some additional information. From there they will use their deep industry expertise and a number of tools to research the domain name and provide you with a Domain Assessment Report within 1-2 business days.

The Domain Assessment Report will include information about the domain’s ownership, history, trademark status, sales of similar domains and an informed market appraisal — everything you need to know to confirm your budget and move forward.

Step 2: Consultation and Negotiation Phase

After receiving and reviewing the Domain Assessment Report and an expert appraisal you’ll be better able to assess and determine whether your budget is sufficient to have Webnames initiate anonymous negotiations with the current holders of the domain.

During the negotiations, you’ll be consulted and provided progress reports as negotiations move forward. Webnames will take the necessary steps to confidentially acquire the domain name on your behalf for the lowest price possible.

Step 3: Complete the Acquisition Phase

Once an agreement has been reached, Webnames.ca will facilitate the secure payment of fees and transfer of domain ownership to you. If an agreement cannot be reached within 30 days, but remains viable, our brokers will continue to work on the acquisition and continue to update you about how the negotiations are progressing.

In the event that a consensus cannot be reached, but the domain owner reaches out after the closure of stalled negotiation, we will alert you to assess your interest in re-opening the brokering effort.

What are the benefits of a domain broker service?

Domain broker and a seller shaking hands following a domain acquisition

Buying a high-quality domain name is a serious investment and not always a linear, or easy process given the idiosyncrasies of the domain name market and individual sellers. An experienced domain broker that knows the resale market, is persuasive, and possesses well-honed negotiation skills is your best chance of successful negotiation. Here are some of the key benefits they bring to the process.

1) Anonymity

In a domain acquisition negotiation, anonymity can help you pay closer to a fair market value. If a seller is aware of who potential buyers are, they may demand an unreasonably higher price. Anonymity protects you from domain squatters, while keeping your future business plans – e.g., new products, campaigns, or business ventures – private.

2) Budgeting/Pricing

Domain brokers leverage public and private historical sales data, as well their own significant experience in valuation, to help clients determine a realistic budget for the purchase of a domain name. This ensures that clients have realistic expectations of how much they’ll likely be spending, while also ensuring that clients do not overpay.

3) Negotiation Experience

Negotiation can be an emotional process, especially if a buyer and seller disagree in relation to the price of the domain. A domain broker can act as a mediator to make sure that negotiations stay on track, and an agreement can be reached. Moreover, many domain name sellers are experienced in their own right, with many sales under their belt, so you do not want to risk an inexperienced start, or you might wind up paying more.

4) Networking ability

With years of domain acquisition knowledge, a domain broker is better positioned to figure out who possesses the domain that you’re hoping to acquire in order to expedite the acquisition process. They may have also worked with certain sellers before or have pre-existing relationships that can be an advantage.

5) Security

When making any kind of transaction, you want to make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for. A domain broker makes sure the transaction is successfully completed, minimizing financial risk, as well as seamlessly and confidentially transferred into your possession. At Webnames, our brokers can also help ensure your valuable domain is safeguarded from bad actors and prying eyes with domain privacy and security features such as registry and registrar domain locks.

How much does a domain broker cost?

There are a few different compensation models that a broker may choose to employ. Some brokers are compensated purely on commission, often a percentage of the sales price, while others may be compensated by a flat fee. In some cases, you may see a mixture of both, or an hourly wage. It really varies from broker to broker.

At Webnames.ca, clients are charged a CAD$75.00 brokering fee. For this fee you will receive a comprehensive Domain Assessment Report which includes a market valuation of the domain you’re hoping to acquire to provide you with the information you need to decide if you want to pursue negotiations. Webnames will only charge commission for the successful acquisition of a requested domain and that rate will vary from 10% to 15% depending on the purchase price.

What to look for when choosing a domain name broker

Domain broker working on laptop, holding a cup of coffee.

Put some time into researching the domain brokering service provider, or the individual domain broker, that you are considering working with as diligently as you would any other major purchase. First, if the brokering service is offered through a domain name registrar, you’ll want to assess their credibility by learning more about them, including things like how many years they’ve been in business, client testimonials, their BBB record, etc.

If all that checks out, you’ll then want to learn more about their brokering service directly, starting with contacting them to speak to the prospective broker. After you’re in touch, you’ll want to ask the broker about his or her track record, how many years of experience they have with domain name acquisitions, if they can share a list of domains they’ve helped to acquire, and most of all, request some references, especially if the name you’re attempting to purchase has a high price point.


Whether you’re launching a new business, or setting up a domain for a new product, acquiring the perfect domain name is an investment in its long-term success. The domain is the foundation of your brand online, it’s how you’re identified online, and will be referenced in everything you do. Finding the right domain name can be difficult. Having to negotiate for it can be even more so.

Domain acquisition negotiation can be a very daunting task. It’s time consuming, complicated, and you only have one opportunity to get it right. So, to make sure you do, let our domain broker help you acquire your perfect domain.

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