Many of us have had the misfortune of dealing with domain resellers.
Let’s say you’re ready to register your personal domain name. You open up chrome and type out your personal url — only to find out that it’s been taken by MassiveDomains55.com.
You inquire about how to buy the domain name and find out that the value is…
Unfortunately, this same scenario has happened to many of us (and that price is on the lower end!).
Resellers like these are notorious for holding names that might be worth something one day — many of them personal names of you and me.
They scour public records of individuals and register those names that are available — banking on the fact that at some point you’re going to want to buy it from them.
I was the victim of this situation. But after nearly 9 years of waiting, I finally got my personal domain back.
In 2010, my domain dropped.
It was the first domain name I had ever purchased. I wasn’t all that technically savvy at the time — mostly due to being young and inexperienced.
As a result, I had forgotten to renew it and it was immediately picked up by a domain reseller.
I tried to purchase it back but their starting price was absurd. Even with negotiations, I couldn’t get it down to a reasonable amount.
Without many options left, I decided I could only wait it out.
From the research I had done, resellers tend to give a period of years until a domain name becomes unprofitable to them.
They gauge the interest from buyers by monitoring inquiries and whois requests from certain partner websites.
Note: I don’t have any proof on whois monitoring, but it’s what I’ve gleaned from various forums discussing the issue.
I never used a whois tool that I couldn’t confirm was independent. For those interested, ICANN’s whois tool is a pretty reliable one.
I had given up hope of ever retrieving my personal domain name.
Then, a few months ago, I got really lucky.
The expiration date arrives
Expiration dates are usually meaningless to domain resellers.
They either renew the domain or it’s passed off to a partner website (usually an auction host).
That is what happened in my case. It went from a reseller to a popular domain auction where it sat waiting to be bid on.
Generally, these auctions will drive up the price by bidding on their own domains to get you to pay more.
For me, I felt that it was a good idea to avoid bidding all together. I didn’t want to encourage price gouging, so I decided to wait on the domain to make it look undesirable.
Fortunately, my gamble paid off.
The domain actually went into expiration and then finally into the coveted “Pending Delete” mode. If you’re waiting on a domain, this is the point where you need to start actively monitoring when it drops.
At this moment I decided to setup a simple python script that would check the whois every 10 minutes.
If the whois string contained a certain term of “unknown domain”, I would know it had expired and was ready to be purchased.
My script was setup to send a text message via Twilio once the domain opened up.
I had also initially setup the script to auto-purchase the domain, but that failed due to Namecheap not recognizing the domain availability in time.
Fortunately, the moment it dropped, I had received the SMS message and registered the domain.
I ended up using Google domains since Namecheap wasn’t able to register the domain when it became available.
So after 9 years, was the wait worth it?
I believe waiting for the domain to drop was indeed a good decision. I should mention that I’m not famous or well-known, so my personal brand name wasn’t all that important.
Even then, it does feel great to own my own personal name.
As for the future, I believe owning your domain name will become increasingly important and that experiences like mine will become more commonplace.
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