Domain Name Escrow with Escrow.com

The most popular and often top-ranked domain name escrow service in the world is Escrow.com.

This tutorial takes you step-by-step through the Escrow.com domain name escrow service. You will walk away with an understanding of how the service works and every aspect of the transaction it monitors.

Also covered are the five areas of an escrow that you need to understand to avoid making a costly mistake.

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Michael Cyger

Michael Cyger: How to Use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool for Domain NamesMichael Cyger is an entrepreneur, businessman, investor, speaker and author. He is also the publisher of DomainSherpa.com.

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Watch the full video at:
http://www.domainsherpa.com/escrowcom-escrow/

In this DomainSherpa tutorial, I walk you through exactly how to set-up a safe and secure escrow transaction when selling you domain name to make sure both the buyer and seller are financially protected. Stay tuned.

I have three sponsor messages before we get into today’s show.

First, if you have a great domain name and nothing to show when people visit, you’re missing out on potential advertising revenue, leads and partnership opportunities. NicheWebsites.com can build you a site quickly with a price option to suit any need — but as their tagline says, they don’t just build websites, they build businesses. NicheWebsites.com.

Second, if you’re buying or selling a domain name or portfolio and you want an estimate of it’s value, Estibot.com is the place to go. Just like you’d visit Zillow.com to get an estimate of a house value, Estibot.com provides key information about the most important statistics so you can make an informed decision based on data.

Finally, whether you are buying, selling, brokering or financing a domain name you need an escrow company that is properly licensed, bonded, insured and audited. That company is Escrow.com and they have been doing it since 1999. Escrow.com – it’s about trust.

Hey everyone, my name is Michael Cyger and I’m the publisher of DomainSherpa.com – the website where you can learn how to become a successful domain name investor or entrepreneur directly from the experts.

Today’s show is a tutorial. I’m going to walk you through how to perform a safe and secure escrow transaction to make sure both the buyer and seller are financially protected. So whether you’re the buyer or seller, watch this tutorial to learn how to protect yourself.

This is a basic topic for many domain name investors, but if you’re an entrepreneur buying a great domain name as your company brand and spending $2,000, $50,000 or $50,000 — or you’re a domain name investor selling your first domain name, you may want to see how it’s done before starting the transaction.

There are five main elements of any escrow transaction:

1. Agreement Between Buyer and Seller
After registering with an escrow company, both parties should agree to the terms of transaction which basically involves price, domain name, and any other included assets such as secondary names, trademarks or content.

2. Payment to Escrow Company
The buyer transfers the money to the escrow company using an approved payment method. Once the payment is confirmed, the company will notify the seller to transfer the domain name.

3. Domain Name Transfer
The escrow company will prompt the seller to work with the buyer to change the domain name ownership. Different procedures apply to different registrars. We’ll go into a little bit of detail during this tutorial.

4. Confirmation of Domain Name Ownership by Buyer
Once the buyer confirms possession of the domain name, the escrow company will inspect whether WHOIS information reflects the buyer’s profile.

5. Disbursement of the Payment to the Seller
After the escrow company does a full inspection fo the transaction, the seller receives the final payment and the transaction is complete.

For this tutorial, I’m going to use the escrow service called Escrow.com. Yes, they’re a valued sponsor of the DomainSherpa show but they’re also one of the most trusted escrow services in the world, everyone I know in the industry uses them, they’re based in the United States, and I always find their staff to be available, knowledgeable and understandable when I email or call them.

If you want to see a full list of providers that support domain name escrow, type “escrow” into the DomainSherpa search box that you can find in the upper right-hand corner of this page, click on the first link entitled “How Does Domain Name Escrow Work?” and scroll down the page.

So the first thing you’ll want to do is visit Escrow.com.

If you want to see how much an escrow service will cost, you can click the “Fee Calculator” link, enter in the sales price and look at both the standard and premier service fees. The standard fee pricing is charged if a buyer funds a transaction with a wire, check or money order. The Premier fee pricing is charged if the buyer funds the transaction with a credit card or PayPal.

Details about paying by different methods are detailed on that page, as well as required hold times that may apply to your transaction.

So, sign into your account. Or, create an account if you don’t have one yet.

Your main dashboard is your “My Transactions” page. You can see that I do not have any open transactions at this time.

I want to start a transaction for the sale of a domain name, so I click the Start button.

As a side note, if you’re using a domain name broker in the sale of your domain name, the process will start with you receiving an email from Escrow.com telling you an escrow has been created and you need to sign in to agree to the terms and continue the process.

Back to the process if you’re selling your own domain name, the first step is to select the type of transaction. You can select domain name, general merchandise, motor vehicle or milestone transaction. You might want to use general merchandise for an antique or memorabilia, for instance, and if you’re paying a developer over time as work is completed, a milestone transaction would be appropriate.

Then select if you’re the buyer or seller; either role can initiate the escrow transaction. Since I’m the seller, I’m leaving it as is. Note: if you’re a broker, you would select Broker from the Your Role pull-down box.

When you press the continue button, you’ll be asked for details of the transaction including the transaction title, email address of the buyer, who will pay the escrow fee, what else is included, if anything, and how long the buyer will have to inspect the domain name once it’s in their possession.

When you press the continue button, you’ll list the actual domain name. You may be wondering, what’s the difference between the the Transaction Title and the Domain Name, and the answer is that it may be the same. In most of my transactions, it’s the same. However, you may want to title the transaction something like “Repair Domains” and then on this page add more than one domain name to this transaction.

When you press the continue button, you’ll review the terms of the escrow agreement and then press the Agree button if you’re in agreement.

A couple of questions you may be thinking about:
1. Who pays the escrow fee? I think the buyer should as they’re the one purchasing the domain name. You should make sure you’re in agreement before initiating the transaction. I’ve often seen the escrow fee split, or included by the seller to help close a deal.
2. How long of an inspection period? I always go for the shortest duration just to keep the transaction moving, but if you know the buyer is traveling or may be delayed for another reason, then you might want to set it to a duration that’s more reasonable — such as 3 days.

After you press the Agree button, Escrow.com will ask you how you want to be paid. You can select ACH or Wire. ACH stands for Automated Clearing House and is cheaper, and only has a cost during the first transaction from Escrow.com. A wire is faster, but costs you both to send and likely to receive at your bank. You’ll need to think about those options. I usually go with ACH, and once you have your bank details in Escrow.com you just click a button.

At this step, you’re done for the time being. Escrow.com tells you it’s the buyer’s turn to sign in and agree to the terms. If you check your email, you’ll likely see a confirmation from Escrow.com about the transaction as well as a confirmation of your settlement option.

I usually reach out to the buyer and confirm that they’ll be receiving an email from Escrow.com soon, just so they know to keep an eye out for it. A confirmation email from the seller also helps move the process along.

When we come back from this short sponsor message, I’ll walk you through the remainder of the process.

Quick break from three sponsors of today’s show:

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Welcome back.

Once the buyer has agreed to the terms, Escrow.com will notify you by email to sign in and proceed with the transaction.

So head on over to Escrow.com, sign in, find the transaction on your dashboard, and click the link to view it.

On the top of the web page, Escrow.com will tell you exactly what you need to do. In this case, it’s time to transfer the domain name because Escrow.com has received the payment from the buyer. You can also look in the right-hand column of the web page for the history of this transaction, from starting the transaction, to agreeing to terms, to buyer paying, Escrow.com receiving the funds, and approving it.

When you click the continue button, it will ask you if you want to provide a username/password to the buyer, the authorization code for the domain name, or push the domain between accounts at the current registrar. If the domain name is in an account that is being transferred, then that’s the appropriate option. Most likely, though, you’ll want to transfer a single domain name. The authorization code or “auth code” is the traditional transfer process, but within a registrar — such as GoDaddy or Enom — you can push a domain name from one account to another. A domain push is faster and easier, if that suits both buyer and seller.

If you go the traditional authorization code route, sign into your registrar and request your code. Sometimes a registrar will provide the auth code on screen. In GoDaddy’s case, you click on the domain name, then scroll to the bottom of the page and request your authorization code be emailed to you.

I normally push the domain through GoDaddy but I need the buyer’s account details to start the push, so I email the buyer asking for the email address and account number associated with their GoDaddy registrar account.

Once I get that information, I sign into my GoDaddy account, find the domain name that’s being sold, check the box next to it, then go to the More dropdown, and select “Begin Account Change”.

GoDaddy will then ask me for the receiving party’s email address and account number. The account number is is optional but I always fill in as a precaution.

You’ll then see a confirmation on screen that the domain is being pushed.

I’ll usually then email the buyer to let them know the domain name is on the way, and give them specific instructions on how to accept the pushed domain. It doesn’t just show up in their account, they have to approve the receipt of it.

There’s a page on GoDaddy that walks a buyer through how to accept a domain name, so I link to it — rather than list the steps in my email — in case GoDaddy updates their user interface and their help documentation.

Once I’ve pushed the domain name at the registrar, as well as marked it as pushed in Escrow.com, I can see that there’s nothing else for me to do now. Again, my history is updated in the right-hand column so I know where I am throughout the escrow process.

Escrow.com then sends me a confirmation email.

Once the buyer has confirmed that they’re in possession of the domain name, they need to sign into Escrow.com and mark the domain name as received. When they do, you’ll get an email confirmation.

When you sign into your Escrow.com account, your status will be updated. Payment will be disbursed as soon as the Escrow.com staff can formally review and close your transaction.

When they do that, you will receive an email confirmation with your closing statement. The funds should arrive within days.

If you have any questions about the escrow process, please post them in the comments below this video on DomainSherpa and I’ll come back and answer them — or find the answers for you.

If there’s a topic related to escrow that you would like a tutorial created for, please post that in the comments below as well.

Thanks for watching DomainSherpa.com. We’ll see you next time.

Watch the full video at:
http://www.domainsherpa.com/escrowcom-escrow/

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19 Responses to “Domain Name Escrow with Escrow.com”

  1. Susan says:

    Hi Michael:
    Just watched your tutorial on selling a domain name using escrow. Very informative to a total newbie. I have a .com & its .net to sell together on eBay. Just a one time sale of two names that have never been used but have been owned since 1999. I’d use escrow.com — makes total sense. My domain names are registered at Network Solutions.
    My questions:
    – any cost to the escrow.com account prior to a sale? if the domain names don’t sell, is there any cost?
    – do I go ahead & open an escrow.com account now, then do my eBay listing OR do I just do the eBay listing and then open the escrow.com account if/when there’s a sale?
    – last, it sounds like one can get quite far into the transaction, but if the buyer doesn’t actually approve the payment, there isn’t much recourse. You mention a reminder email. OK, and if that doesn’t work, what happens then? Does escrow.com play any “enforcement” role? Or, do some number of days elapse & then the transaction is cancelled? In this case, it sounds like there is no danger of the domain being sold, more like the seller (me) just starts again from scratch — correct? Cost in the case of a transaction that falls apart @ escrow.com?
    – are there any other things I should know, look out for, etc? Or, any thoughts or advice?
    Thanks so much,
    Susan

    1. Hi Susan,

      Thanks for watching!

      In response to your questions:

      #1) You only start the Escrow.com process when a sale has happened. No fee is due until both the buyer and seller agree to the Escrow.com terms. The payment of the Escrow.com fees is specified when the transaction is being setup in Escrow.com.

      #2) I’ve never sold on eBay. I know Escrow.com is a partner of eBay. Check their help section for details. When you’re setting up a transaction on Flippa (a competitor to eBay), you specify how the domain will transfer (Flippa escrow, Escrow.com, etc.). Maybe there’s a similar option at eBay? I’ve never done it so I can’t help, sorry.

      #3) I’m sure there’s some agreement they make to eBay when they make a bid and win an auction. It’s likely equivalent to a signed purchase/sale agreement for a domain name. You likely have the right to take them to court if they default. Even small claims court might be a cost-effective option for you, depending on the sale amount (most small claims courts have a maximum of $5,000 claim). Even if you get a judgement, there’s no guarantee you’ll get paid but at least you’ll have satisfaction. :) You can likely have the person banned from eBay and/or Escrow.com.

      Hope this has been helpful. If you need more support in buying/selling domain names, please check out DNAcademy.com. It’s my course and I walk you through everything you need to know to become a professional domain name investor, including getting you into a peer-to-peer networking group that provides daily support to your activities.

      Best,
      Michael

  2. Rajiv says:

    Hi Michael,

    Very informative video, thanks.

    I just have one question if you don’t mind, When using Escrow.com as a seller can I have them send me a single payment for multiple sales? For example let’s say I make four $1000 sales over a period of 1 month. Can I have Escrow.com send me one wire transfer and/or check for $4000, or will they only send four $1000 wire transfers / checks?

    Thanks!

    Rajiv

    1. Hi Rajiv,
      A few of our larger customers have set up transfer accounts that allow for this. There is an initial setup fee of $100. In the long run it can save considerably on wire fees.
      Best regards,
      Brandon

  3. Andres says:

    Is it possible that a seller accepts a domain under a whoisguard or a different name, and insist that he did not receive the domain? Therefore refuse to release payment.

    If that is a possible scenario, what can the seller do should it happen?

    1. Hi Andres,

      It is hypothetically possible for that to happen. However, as long as I’ve been tracking auctions and sales in the industry I’ve never run across an instance of this situation happening so I’m not sure it’s worth a double sided escrow (cash and domain to escrow company).

      Plus, to prevent domain name theft, ICANN requires that domain names be prevented for transfer for 60 days in certain situations (http://www.domainsherpa.com/domain-name-dictionary/60-day-lock/). The way Escrow.com handles it, this 60-day lock isn’t an issue.

      Hope that helps explain the situation.

      Best,
      Michael

  4. Anunt says:

    When are you going to accept Bitcoin?

  5. Eric says:

    Another nice feature of Escrow.com is that that when selling to an out of country buyer, they deal with any exchange issues, so you get the US $ amount that you agreed to. I sold a domain to a Canadian buyer for $5k and that’s what I received less $10 for the ACH fee. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention but I believe the buyer had chosen the time frame of 5 days.

    The other thing we did was set up a time when we’d both be available to get the transaction started in case there were any issues, with godaddy in that case & exactly as Mike mentioned I pushed it to the buyer’s account.

    Many people insist on using godaddy “pushes”, but although I still have an account there, after 10 years they decided to stop being competitive on renewals so I’ve been moving my ~500 domains to another registry. This could create significant issues, e.g. the 60 day lock period on newly acquired domains although I don’t usually sell them that soon.

  6. Mitchell says:

    Well done, Michael. Thank you.

  7. Bradley says:

    Hi Michael

    Another well thought out tutorial on using escrow.com

    I use them whenever I make a purchase, and I feel very comfortable using this escrow service!

    Best regards

    Bradley

  8. Noor Manji says:

    Thanks for the video Mike. Looking forward to Thursday morning.

    Noor

  9. Kristiyan says:

    Hey Michael,
    I am a big fan of your work and your website! : )

    I am banging my head with a question about what exactly is a domain name. Is it a digital product? Is it a digital service? .. or what is it?

    As you might know from Jan 1st 2015 there are new EU VAT rules that apply on trading with digital products/services. For example – if you sell a domain name to EU consumers (which are not VAT registered) which means (B2C, not B2B) do you have to charge an additional VAT on the domain name price?

    I asked escrow.com support to answer me if they handle VAT for EU not VAT registered consumers on domain names sales, but they responded that they are not doing any tax related work. I am not sure what to do in this situation. I can not setup “buy it now” buttons from escrow.com for my website because I don’t actually know what the final price should be.

    The domain names I am going to sell will have fixed buy now prices and I would like to create a hassle free buy process with “buy it now” buttons from escrow.com but with the EU VAT complications I don’t know what to do…

    Any advice or info on the subject?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Kristiyan,

      That is a tough question.

      Our DNTaxGuide.com guide only covers United States Federal tax situations, so we have not included any information on EU VAT rules.

      As we say in the Guide, you should consult a tax expert or certified public accountant for any questions specific to your situation.

      Having said that, you ask the correct question. What is a domain name? All kinds of digital goods and services are included in the VAT rules. All kinds of physical and customized/human services and goods are excluded. What if you’re not clearly in one group or the other?

      In the United States, some view domains as intellectual property so be sure to ask your tax expert if they agree.

      Come back and let us know what you uncover, please!

      Best,
      Michael

  10. PAUL FOREL says:

    Mike, the audio cut out (on the video version) after a few minutes.

    1. Check your connection to the Internet and try reloading the page, Paul. It’s working fine for me, and no one else has reported any issues.

      Let me know if that works, please.

  11. TJ says:

    Super helpful reference.

    1. Glad you found it helpful, TJ.

  12. Jay says:

    thanks for the video mike.

    1. Thanks for watching and posting a comment, Jay. I appreciate it!

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