Domain Value Appraisal Scam - Beware!

Domain Appraisal Scam; oldest trick in the book

What do we normally do when we want to know the estimated value of an asset?  If it’s a home, we contact a property appraiser.  If it’s your car, you consult the Kelley Blue Book. A gemologist can appraise your grandmother’s jewelry. 

But,domain names don’t fall into simple appraisal categories like homes, cars and jewelry do.

Buyers purchase domains for many different reasons.   It could be for investment, for end-user website development, or simply to keep them out of the hands of competitors.  Each of those purposes might reflect a different value to the buyer (i.e. : wholesale domain price vs. retail domain value).  A professional domain broker is the best way to get an accurate appraisal for your domain name based upon the domain name itself and your goals in terms of timing, liquidity & urgency. 

Often times comparable past domain sales are also a good way of getting a reasonable and accurate value range for your domain name. Our society’s need to place a monetary value on an asset often pressures domain owners to valuate their portfolios in preparation for that big sale.  Yet take heed of emails from potential buyers that require a domain appraisal, because they may not be buyers at all.  Such emails seem to make the rounds every few months.  They will offer to purchase a domain from you at an inflated price, “if you’ll only get an appraisal first.”

Here’s an example of such an email:

—————————- Hello! I’m very interested in purchasing [domain]. I found it listed for sale. Please respond with a desired price for your domain in the subject line (in USD, Euros or other currency). If you have other names for sale please email me your list with prices. Regards, Aaron Anderson CEO Live Host Solutions —————————- When you respond, you will receive a second email that looks something like this: —————————- I’m thinking about xxx USD for your domain. What do you think about this price range? I have 400,000 budget for 30-40 names. But I need a professional valuation (domain appraisal) from you first. Without a professional appraisal we both cannot be 100% sure in the final sale price. It will minimize my investing risks. _Of course, we must engage a valuation company with a REAL manual service.

I don’t trust automated services from companies I’ve never heard about._ I also need an appraisal service which verifies a possible trademark infringement. It’s important for me to know that you domain has no problems with trademarks. You should not worry about it. You don’t need to pay a fee for this trademark verification service. Some good appraisers include this option (trademark infringement verification) as a free bonus to the appraisal service. To avoid mistakes I asked domain experts about reputable appraisal services with the trademark verification option. Please check this blog with suggestions from other sellers and buyers: [a link will send the user to a fraudulent appraisal service Web site.] After you send me the professional valuation via email (usually it takes 1-2days to obtain it) we’ll continue our negotiations. —————————- When the reader clicks on the link, he is taken to a site that charges money for a manual appraisal, but no appraisal is ever sent; and of course, the potential buyer disappears into thin air.

Morgan Linton, of Linton Investments, is collecting examples of such emails; if you think that you have received one of these scam emails, you can compare yours or add your example.  Linton believes in spreading the word about these fraudulent emails in an effort to educate domain owners before they’re swindled. Remember that a good domain broker and 99% of serious buyers will never ask for an appraisal from the seller. 

A good broker doesn’t need one and a serious buyer already knows what the domain is worth to them or their company regardless of it’s “value”.  By choosing a reputable domain broker, you may have a better chance of receiving a fair price for your domain through honest, experiences & educated negotiation.  Save that appraisal money for your grandma’s jewelry, or better yet, for purchasing your next great domain name.