Domain Name Acquisition: A Step-By-Step Guide

Let’s say you’ve just started your business of selling quirky footwear called Clock Shoes. You want to set up your eCommerce store, but as luck would have it, is taken. There’s no need to change your entire brand just because the domain name is not available: you can acquire it. Check out how.

You’ve come up with a business plan, created a product or service, chosen a name for your brand, and now it’s time to create a website. The only problem is, a website with your business name (or product type) already exists. So, what do you do?

Well, you have two options. Go for a domain name that has nothing to do with your brand or product. Alternatively, you can contact the current owner and start the process of domain name acquisition. What’s that? Let’s find out.

What Is Domain Name Acquisition?

Domain name acquisition is the practice of buying a domain name that’s already taken. According to Diggity Marketing, there are over 350 million registered domain names, and it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to find a domain name that’s brandable and easy to remember for users.

Not only do businesses and individuals register domain names for themselves (usually multiple ones to avoid cybersquatting), but you also have people engaging in domain flipping. Flipping represents registering generic domains with the sole purpose of reselling them for a profit.

As a result, there’s a growing need for domain name acquisition, which allows you to obtain usage rights of your preferred domain name even if it’s not available.

The acquisition is possible only if the current owner is willing to sell, and as you might expect, it’s pricier to buy a domain than to register an unused one.

MORE: Is my domain name available?

In theory, domain name acquisition is an easy transactional process. You send the money, they transfer the domain name. However, there are some intricacies that go into it, which has paved the way for domain brokerage services.

What Is a Domain Acquisition Service?

Getting the best deal for the domain name you want to buy requires a bit of research and negotiation skills. If you don’t have the time to do that on your own, or if you simply feel like a professional domain name acquisition broker would do a better job of it, you can pay for their service. 

A domain acquisition service handles the entire acquisition process in your name. When you get in touch with them, you’ll get a dedicated broker who you can provide the domain name you’re interested in.

After that, they’ll do all the legwork, starting from identifying the current owner and finding their contact information all the way up to handling paperwork and domain name transfer. All you need to do is pay up.

Aside from not having to carry out the process yourself, one of the main benefits of such a service is getting a professional domain name appraisal. As with everything, the price of a domain name is the amount the seller is willing to sell for. That doesn’t mean it’s the amount you’re willing to pay.

If a premium domain name sells for several thousand dollars, you might be better off choosing a domain name that’s available. An acquisition broker will delve into a domain name’s value, SEO ranking, domain age, and other aspects of a domain name to determine its right price. 

MORE: How to value a domain name

Domain Brokerage – Do You Need It?

Hiring a domain brokerage service depends on a couple of factors. Firstly, if you’ve spotted the domain name listed for sale and you’re fine with the price, you don’t really need someone else to negotiate for you. Acquiring a domain via a broker comes with a service fee, but it may be more affordable in the end if they manage to negotiate a lower price.

Usually, the commission for a successful acquisition varies and, according to Name Experts, is between 5% and 20%.

4 Steps to Acquire a Domain Name

If you decide to go into it without a broker, there are a few steps you need to take to complete the process. As we’ve mentioned, the process itself is straightforward in theory, but it can take time and some negotiating skills to complete it.

You need to do the following steps to complete domain name acquisition:

  1. Choose a domain name,
  2. Determine your budget,
  3. Negotiate with the current owner,
  4. Carry out the transaction.

1. Choose a Domain Name

The first step is deciding on the domain name and evaluating whether it’s the best choice. You should always think ahead with domain names, especially if you’re looking to pay a premium price for one.

Make sure that the domain name you’ve chosen is brandable and scalable. Is it limited to your current product line, or does it allow you to offer different products or services as you grow? Does the name make it clear what your company is all about? Is it easy to spell and memorize?

If you’re having trouble picking a name that ticks all the boxes, you can use our AI-powered domain name generator and get 1,000+ catchy name ideas instantly. 

2. Determine Your Budget

When you settle on a name, it’s time to determine its value and decide how much you’re willing to pay for it. A variety of factors go into the domain name’s value, such as:

  • Domain type,
  • Brandability,
  • Spelling,
  • Domain name history,
  • Universality,
  • SEO ranking.

Not all extensions are created equal; the most popular top-level domains (such as .com, .net, .us, and .co) bring a higher value to your domain than a domain type that’s often associated with phishing and scam sites.

You should also consider the name’s history. A name that’s been active for a longer period is usually more valuable than a newly registered one. But, you should also consider what the website has been used for. If there’s been some fraudulent activity, and Google recognizes the domain as a spammy one, you’ll have a negative SEO ranking and will have to deal with the name’s perception.

Once you take all the factors into account, you should come up with an amount that represents your top limit.


If you want to handle the negotiation by yourself but are not sure how to value a domain name, you can hire a domain appraisal service to help you determine your budget.

3. Negotiate With the Current Owner

Now, it’s time to get in touch with the current owner and negotiate the terms of the acquisition. When the owner lists a domain on an auction platform, they also list their contact information. 

If that’s not the case, don’t worry. The domain name system (DNS) database contains an owner’s contact information for every registered domain name. You can use a WHOIS lookup tool to find the owner’s email address or phone number and get in touch with them.

At this point, it’s all about your approach and the price the owner is willing to accept. If you’re patient enough to go through several back-and-forths, you may be able to lower the price significantly.

4. Carry Out the Transaction

Once both parties agree on the terms, it’s time to finish the transaction. In most cases, you’ll complete the transaction via a third-party escrow service. You can draw up a contract (or find a template online) and get legal coverage.

The process is simple. The escrow service of your choice will hold your payment until the owner finalizes the domain name transfer. Once everything is done, they will receive your payment, and you’ll be the only one with the usage rights of your new domain.


Brandable domain names that are still available are getting scarcer by the day. A domain name that will represent your company and brand values is hard to find. The bad news is that it’s most likely already registered. The good news is that everything has its price.

Domain name acquisition is more expensive than registering a new domain name, but the cost may pay off big time in the long run. Make sure you do your due diligence and don’t overpay for the name. If the current owner is being difficult, you might be better off hiring an acquisition service to negotiate in your name or choosing a different name altogether.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

If the domain name is already taken, you can purchase it by contacting the current owner and negotiating the price. Once you agree upon a price, you can sign an acquisition agreement and transfer the ownership.

Yes. Like with any other product or intellectual property, the ownership can change if there is a sales agreement in place. A hostile takeover of a website is considered a cybercrime.

When you buy a domain name from someone else, you need to update the contact information in the DNS and add yourself as the current owner. After that, you can start building your website. You can stick with the previous hosting provider and registrar or choose new ones.

Domain name registration is a subscription-based service, and the domain name will expire once the subscription ends. Depending on the agreement with your registrar, the subscription period can last from one to ten years. Once it expires, you’ll be able to renew your registration.

Domain names can make money on their own through domain flipping. You can register (or acquire) a domain name and resell it later for a profit. For example, was sold for a whopping $872 million.


Miloš Soro

Miloš Soro

Miloš Soro is a content writer dedicated to the technical side of running a business. He is our expert on domain names, eCommerce, and product development. Soro combines his six years of writing experience with an educational background in IT and is interested in the latest technology trends to provide his readers with the latest insights.

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