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How to Find, Buy and Make Money from Expiring Domain Names

Some Basic Facts About the Domain Aftermarket

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Roger Peter
September 16, 2008

Roger Peter offers search engine optimisation services in the UK

Roger Peter has written 1 articles for DomainInformer.
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You've paid for hosting, and after much deliberation, you've come up with the perfect domain name for your business, but then someone mentions expired domain names, and tells you that there's a name similar to yours, and maybe you should grab it.  But how does one register expired domain names?

A Brief Introduction to Domain Expiration

When a domain name expires, it is not immediately released. Instead, there is an initial 40-day grace period during which the owner can renew. Domain names renewed during this period do not cost the original owner any more than the original registration, but the services for the domain are discontinued. Visiting websites attached to expired domain names generally forces a redirect to the existing registrar's homepage, but some registration services redirect traffic to a "for sale" page instead.

If the existing owner does not pay their renewal fee, the domain name is put into a "redemption period" status, which wipes the WhoIs information, but does not actually release the domain for resale. At this point, the existing owner must pay an extra fee to re-register their domain name.  This fee varies from provider to provider, but is generally around $150.

In the third stage before a new registrant can buy, expired domain names are put into a "locked" status for about five days. This is the last period at which a domain can be easily restored to the original owner. 

Early in the morning of day six (or day 76, if you are counting from the original expiration) , generally around 6:30 AM, expired domain names are released in large batches. At this point, they are available to anyone who wants to buy them, just as if they were never in use.

Getting the Drop on the "Domain Drop Period

While some people have been successful in contacting existing owners and asking to buy expired domain names, so many registrars are masking customer information, and so many registrants are lax about maintaining accurate information in their WhoIs profitles, that the best solution is to backorder a domain from a commercial registration service, or go to a "domain snatching company.

On the surface, it seems simple: place backorder requests with registrars, wait seventy-five or so days, and then register expired domain names.  The problem is, there's a period of about three hours between the time that the domain names are deleted from VeriSign's  (the company that oversees these things) database and the time they're actually made available to those who want to buy expired domain names, and while it's possible that  your backorder is the first one placed, it is equally possible that someone else's backorder was submitted first.

To help you have a better chance to buy expired domain names, there are three major "domain snatching" companies, all of which work aggressively during the three-hour drop period.

Snapnames uses an auction-type interface with both private (higher minimums) and public auctions. It also has an expired domain search option and has exclusive partnership with Network Solutions. Though it does require credit card information even to search a name, but charges nothing unless your bid wins.

Enom offers pre-release bidding, but requires login. Minimum bid for premium names is $30, and bids increase by $5 until they exceed $100. The site also offers “reverse auctions" which start at a specific dollar amount, which is reduced over the course of three days. offers keyword alerts as well as expired domain search options and is highly rated in Europe. The site lists about-to-expire names on their front page and markets aggressively to domain name resellers and registrars, as well the general public

While their interfaces are a little different, all three of these companies offer auctions which require the client to have credit card information on file, as well as the less active backorder option that most registrars offer. With backorders, you agree to pay a flat fee, generally $19.95 or so, to wait for a name to expire. You do not pay anything, however, unless your backorder is the first in line when the domain is released.

With the auctions, there is also no fee unless you "win" the expired domain,  but you are actively bidding against others, some of whom are professional resellers, for the right to buy  and register expired domain names.

While it is true that resellers make a tidy profit buying and selling expired domain names, the reality is that a single transaction can cost more than $350 (which admittedly, is nothing, compared to the $150,000 that "" sold for in 2005, but still hefty for an individual) if the domain name is auctioned, and you may not get to choose the company with which to register expired domain names after purchase, as the terms of service for all of the big domain name snatching companies are affiliated with one ( or more ) registrar. These affiliations, in fact, are how they access lists of domain names about to expire.

For the average business owner, then, buying expired domain names is not necessarily the wisest choice.



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Submit Your Articles or Press ReleaseAdd comment (Comments: 1)  
Title: Network Solutions is affiliated to NameJet rather than SnapNames September 18, 2008
Comment by Connie Bensen


This is Connie from Network Solutions.

Network Solutions doesn't have any connection or business relationship with SnapNames. Network Solutions partners with NameJet for auctioning expired domain names. You can find them at There is more information below about NameJet. Can you update your post please to reflect this? Thanks!


NameJet is an aftermarket domain name auction service with exclusive inventory of the most desired expired domains from leading registrars such as Network Solutions, eNom, Bulk Register, and two new major (un-named) registrar partners whose expired inventory will be made available in October. Name Jet auctions both pre-release domains as well as pending delete names. NameJet uses award winning domain name aftermarket technology that allows domain professionals, businesses, and individuals to acquire domain names including those that just expired. NameJets easy-to-use interface makes it simple to track and manage the domain names you want.



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