Here's my answer to those questions, as well as a few helpful tips. But first, let's clarify the two types of domain names that you're considering purchasing.
1. A brand new, never registered domain (known as hand-registered domains in the industry).
To purchase domains, I prefer godaddy.com or uniregistry.com.
Pro Tip: Use instantdomainsearch.com to save time before purchasing.
2. A previously owned domain. There's basically two ways to do this.
-DIrectly from the owner
If someone already owns it, you can find out who (unless they have privacy protected) by typing whois.domaintools.com/handshakin.com, just replace handshakin.com with the domain name and extension you're trying to buy. Good luck negotiating with them-- you'll need it!
Pro Tip: Use escrow.com for a secure transaction if you're negotiating 1-on-1 with the owner/seller.
-Directly from the company
Many companies (including mine) now invest in domain names as appreciating company assets. Although mine is not geared around flipping domain names, we surely want to protect assets that may be of value to us in the future. Most companies that are built around this will have their prices listed one sites like sedo.com and godaddy.com.
Pro Tip: Estibot.com is a domain valuation website. It is being adopted quickly in the domain industry although is still new and not always very accurate.
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