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Going Once, Going Twice… Domain Name Auctions

Heritage Auctions sells a lot of collectibles: rare coins, art, and jewelry. But one of America’s largest auction houses also sells something you might not expect: domain names.
While live, in-person domain name auctions—like what Heritage does—are still rare, online domain name auctions take place daily.
Let’s take a look at how domain auctions actually work.

Domain Auctions 101

Domain name auctions work much like other auctions you’ve participated in, whether on eBay or at a local auctioneer.
If you’ve ever bid on something at eBay, you’ll be familiar with the mechanics. Auctions have a starting bid and some have reserves. Bidding increases in increments and people can place proxy bids. Most domain auction services have an auto-extension feature that extends the closing time of auctions that receive last minute bids in order to discourage people from sniping domains at the last minute.
Because of the limited timeframe of a domain name auction, most buyers in these auctions are domain name investors that hope to resell the domains later for a higher price.
Sellers in these auctions include domain name investors, companies that are no longer using a domain, as well as companies that hold expiring domain names that are becoming available.
Even you can participate! If you have a few domain names you are no longer using, selling them in a domain auction might make sense. With few exceptions, most domain auction services have minimum requirements or listing fees in order to be able to sell a domain.

Popular Domain Auction Sites

Interested in buying or selling your domain names in an auction? Here are some of the popular domain auction sites.
SedoWith 19 million domain names listed for sale, Sedo is a popular marketplace for buying and selling domain names. While most of the domain names sell through negotiations or “Buy Now” prices, the site also has active domain auctions. Almost all domains can be listed for sale on Sedo, but they need to receive at least one purchase offer or be of high quality to start an auction. Alternatively, sellers can pay a one-time fee of $59 to begin an auction.
Flippa – Flippa started as a site for buying and selling websites but expanded to include domain names as well. The site has completed over $200 million of sales. Anyone can list a domain for sale on Flippa but there is a $9 listing fee.
NameJet – NameJet features both expiring domain names as well as domain name investor inventory. This active auction site frequently sells domain names for tens of thousands of dollars. Some of its top sales last year were CPT.com for $69,000, jingzhou.com for $65,000, 365.tv for $60,000, and Protege.com for $52,000. NameJet is selective about which domain names it lets people auction on its system. It doesn’t charge listing fees but takes a commission on sales.
SnapNames – SnapNames is one of the oldest domain name auction sites. It specializes in expired domain names.
eBay – Yes, eBay has a category for domain names as well. Despite being a giant in the online auction business, its domain name section isn’t very popular because it’s littered with low-quality domains. Still, it might be worth a look.

Sell Your Domains

Have a few extra domain names you wish to sell? Auctioning them off one of these platforms might make sense.
Many people also choose to list their domain names for sale at fixed prices rather than auctions. Namecheap customers can list domain names for sale through their accounts at a fixed price. Just log into your Namecheap account. From there, click on “Manage” next to any domain you’d like to sell, and scroll down to the very bottom of the page. You’ll see an option that looks like this:
screenshot of sales option on domain manager panel
Click on Sell Domain and you’ll have a chance to choose a number of options before putting your domain on the market.
screenshot of sell domain page at Namecheap
Now that you’ve made a bit of cash by selling off domains you no longer need, why not purchase a new one for your next project? Check out the Namecheap Domain Marketplace to see domains others have put up for sale!

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Andrew Allemann avatar

Andrew Allemann

Andrew is the founder and editor of Domain Name Wire, a publication that has been covering domain names since 2005. He has personally written over 10,000 posts covering domain name sales, policy, and strategies for domain name owners. Andrew has been quoted in stories about domain names in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times and Fortune. More articles written by Andrew.

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