If a .com.au or .net.au domain name is unregistered, then the process for purchasing the domain is fairly straightforward, you simply register it through your registrar of choice *.
* .au domain registration is subject to eligibility criteria, further details are available on the .au Domain Administration (auDA) website.
However, it is often the case that your perfect .au domain has already been registered. Domain names are now widely recognised as valuable business assets that can deliver a huge competitive advantage, which is why all the great domains have already been registered by savvy business operators and investors.
If your .com.au domain of choice is already registered, do not despair just yet, as the current registrant may be willing to sell it to you.
There is a thriving secondary market for buying and selling domain names and there are a number of marketplaces that facilitate domain name transactions.
There are some benefits to using a marketplace for your purchase rather than communicating directly with the current registrant, for example you may wish to negotiate anonymously so that your financial position does not influence the asking price (although not all marketplaces offer anonymity). Of course the domain name may not be listed in any marketplaces, in which case you will need to communicate directly with the owner or alternatively, you could enlist the help of a domain name broker.
Using the services of a domain name broker can potentially save you a lot of money, as their industry experience and negotiation skills can help you to acquire a domain at a much lower price. Engaging a broker with a strong understanding of .au domain values will ensure that you do not pay more than fair market value for a domain.
There are a number of global marketplaces that handle transactions for a huge range of different extensions (such as .com, .net, .org, .tv, .com.au etc), but there are also local marketplaces that cater specifically to .com.au and .net.au domains.
Local marketplaces for .au domains
Watch this space for a new .au marketplace on Domainer.com.au!
eBranding.com.au is home to my portfolio of .com.au and .net.au domains, the marketplace is not open to other sellers.
Netfleet is the largest local marketplace for .au domains.
The FabulousDomains.com.au platform is only available to a limited number of sellers, and so has a smaller selection of .au domains.
DomainNames.com.au offers .au domains from a privately owned portfolio, the marketplace is not open to other sellers.
DNTrade is an Australian forum with a focus on .au domain name investment. Domains are offered for sale from time to time in the marketplace sections of the forum.
Expiring domain names
If a .au domain name owner (registrant) does not renew the registration when it is due (the registration period is currently 2 years), then the domain registration will expire. After a period of time the domain will be released back in to the pool of available .au domains, becoming available for registration again.
There are commercial operators that offer services to catch .au domains as they are released. Business owners and domain name investors can use these services to bid on desirable .au domain names in the lead up to their release. The highest bidder on the platform that successfully catches the domain will become the new registrant.
There are three ‘dropcatching’ platforms in Australia:
Being the highest bidder on any one platform does not guarantee that you will get the domain, as each platform competes to catch valuable names for their clients.
We will cover expiring .au domains in more detail in future articles.
There are a number of international marketplaces for domain names, and although most of these are largely focussed on .com domain sales, some also offer .com.au and .net.au domains.
Acquiring the matching .com domain for your .au domain can also be a sensible move for brand protection, particularly if your business operates in overseas markets, or if you intend to do so in the future. The larger international marketplaces are where .com domains are typically sold.
Sedo is the largest global domain marketplace.
As the largest registrar in the world, GoDaddy’s marketplace has exposure to a large number of consumers and for this reason is a popular venue for domain sellers.
Afternic was recently purchased by GoDaddy and over time the platform is being integrated with GoDaddy’s other services.
Flippa was originally focussed on buying and selling established websites, however the platform also offers ‘domain only’ sales and this area of their business has grown dramatically in recent times.
Freemarket is a fairly new entrant and has a very similar business model to incumbent Flippa, offering established website sales and ‘domain only’ sales.
DomainNameSales (also known as simply ‘DNS’) was established by domain investor Frank Schilling in 2001. They are well known for achieving top dollar on the sales handled by their brokers, which of course is great for sellers, but not so good for buyers! DNS is typically not one of the cheaper platforms for domain acquisitions.
Although they have domains across a range of price points, Buy Domains typically offer ‘value priced domains’ (rather than higher priced ‘premium domains’). The marketplace offers domains from their large portfolio and is not open to other sellers.
The HugeDomains.com marketplace offers domains from their large portfolio and is not open to other sellers.
DomainMarket.com was established by domain investor Mike Mann in 2008. The marketplace offers domains from their large portfolio and is not open to other sellers.
Most Wanted Domains is owned by domain investor Michael Berkens. The marketplace offers domains from his large portfolio and is not open to other sellers.
4.cn is a Chinese marketplace for domain names.
BrandBucket is a marketplace for ‘brandable’ .com domains (often made up words like ‘Nodsy’).
There are also a large number of other smaller marketplaces, including private portfolios.
Domains can also be purchased through domain industry forums, such as DNForum.com and NamePros. Domains offered for sale on forums tend to be ‘value domains’ (priced low), as they are wholesale markets for domain investors rather than end users. Whilst some bargains can be found, the overall quality of domains on offer tends be low.
As is the case with the local .au market, there are also a number of international services for catching desirable expired domains in other extensions (such as .com) as they are released.