Escrow.com Launches Broker Sales Product | DomainInvesting.com
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Escrow.com Launches Broker Sales Product

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After months of private beta testing, Escrow.com just publicly launched its long awaited broker product. The video above explains how it works, but essentially, it allows a domain broker to seamlessly and privately originate a deal between a buyer and seller, with Escrow.com acting as the intermediary.

Andrew Rosener of Media Options, a successful independent domain broker, has been testing out the product for a while and shared some insight with me:

“The Escrow.com broker tool has been critical in our business since we started using it and helping Escrow.com to develop it around our needs.  It has truly been tailor fitted to what a broker needs in order to help both a buyer and seller complete a transaction seamlessly and transparently, or in some cases privately when either buyer or sell does not want their identity to be known by the other party.  The broker tool allows us to hand hold individuals who are not familiar with the online escrow process and may be seeing Escrow.com for the first time.  We’ve been able to much more efficiently close deals with less man power and less emails between parties in order to explain the escrow procedures.”  

One benefit that might cause some additional discussion is that the broker can set one purchase price for the buyer and a lower price for the seller, allowing him to keep the commission amount private. Instead of working on behalf of a buyer or seller, the broker could be working more as a middleman and could possibly make a far greater profit on a deal than if it were transparent. However, at the end of the day the cost of this transaction is actually lowered, since in the past the broker would have to pay two escrow fees, one on the buy and one on the sell.

For instance, a broker may be able to acquire a name for $10,000 and immediately sell it for $25,000. The broker would be able to agree to buy the name from the owner for $10,000 while the buyer is agreeing to the deal at $25,000. The broker would earn $15,000 on the deal, minus the Escrow.com fee. There are a number of people that buy and flip names, and this shortens the timeframe on transactions.

The broker product was just launched today. To start a transaction, visit Escrow.com and log in, click “Start a transaction,” select domain name, and choose your roll as “broker.”


About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and professional domain investor. Elliot is President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a domain investing company that has sold seven figures worth of domain names in the last five years. Elliot is the publisher of DomainInvesting.com.

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Comments (24)

    Andee Hill

    Thanks for sharing in our excitement, Elliot! We are extremely interested to hear the industry’s feedback.

    We know that there are a few schools of thought when it comes to hidden broker commissions. It should be noted that when a buyer or seller is in a broker transaction and the amounts are hidden, they are aware that they are in that type of transaction.

    Looking forward to everyone’s comments. Good and bad. Thanks!

    May 3rd, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Andrew Rosener

    @ Elliot -

    You are right that there will be some people that use the tool in a deceiving way regarding broker commissions. However, as Andee pointed out, everyone involved is aware of the type of transaction they are entering into (i.e. private or transaparent). 99% of our transactions are done with transparency on both sides (to buyer & seller). However, there are some instances where you do not want one party knowing what your commission is for various reasons. The one which is most common for us is when we lower our commission for a special client or because of a specific scenario and we do not want the other party knowing that we lower our commission. Otherwise this would become a habit.

    Anyhow, aside from the alternative motives for using the privacy feature to hide the amount of a broker’s commission, the tool that Escrow.com has built for us domain brokers is outstanding and helps improve the transaction process exponentially.

    I’m just sad that I won’t be the only one using it anymore!

    May 3rd, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Samit

    Andrew brokered a sale for me using Escrow.com a while back, so I got to see the process in action.

    But as far as I can recall the entire transaction was transparent as to price / commission / etc.

    Maybe each party sees what they’re supposed to in the transaction, which is slightly worrying considering the abuse possible.

    May 3rd, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    Josh

    Honestly I love escrow.com but I cannot see this taking off, sorry.

    May 3rd, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    rob sequin

    You say “For instance, a broker may be able to acquire a name for $10,000 and immediately sell it for $25,000. ”

    STOP.

    That is NOT the job of a broker at all.

    A broker works exclusively for the buyer OR the seller.

    A broker is not a middleman.

    A broker is not a reseller.

    Lastly, is this structure set up for a domain buyer’s broker and not just a domain seller’s broker?

    May 3rd, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    Elliot Silver

    @ Rob

    I believe the product was set up for a broker to act as a broker and help two parties transact a deal. However, someone else could use it to agree to buy a name for one price and sell it for a higher price. Buyer and seller would only see their agreed upon prices.

    May 3rd, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    rob sequin

    “However, someone else could use it to agree to buy a name for one price and sell it for a higher price. ”

    Right but this person is NOT a broker.

    Call him a middleman, flipper or whatever but his motivation here is PURE self interest.

    A broker works for the buyer or the seller ONLY and represents their client’s interest 100%. No exceptions.

    Sorry but I felt obligated to make sure the definition of a broker is very clear.

    May 3rd, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Elliot Silver

    @ Rob

    I agree. The product was created for brokers, but it can be used by others who wish to be in the middle of a deal but not act on behalf of a buyer or seller as a broker.

    If I am incorrect, Andee can correct me.

    May 3rd, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    Andee Hill

    @Andrew Thank you for all your help and insight during our extensive testing process. Your knowledge and suggestions helped guide our design. We are lucky to have had your input.

    @Josh This product is definitely not for everyone in the domain industry. However, we expect it to be valuable in our General Merchandise segment.

    @Rob You are correct that some that will use the product may not be true “brokers”. However, we created this not only to support the domain broker community, but also for the countless other online sales we see pass through our system. Escrow.com is one of the only ways large online transactions can safely be completed. This product enables three parties to safley complete an online sale.

    May 3rd, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    Rich

    When I first looked read the headline of the article I had some high hopes that there may finally be a transparent and trustworthy site to transaction high value domain names. Forget it. It is the same old stuff where the broker (call him/her the middleman if you wish) knows everything that is going on and the buyer and seller don’t know anything. Let’s just say it legitimizes a poor way of handling transactions and will do nothing to move the industry forward. I guess Escrow believes that owners of high value domains such as myself are just poor, uniformed, uneducated business people who are looking to get fleeced.

    May 3rd, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    Elliot Silver

    @ Rich

    When doing deals, I always have a contract directly with the buyer (or seller), in addition to the Escrow.com agreement. I would know if the broker was flipping it for more.

    That said, I don’t see how it’s fleecing if you agree to sell me X.com for $15,000 and I find a buyer in the meantime who will pay $25,000 for the name. Personally, I have NOT done this because a smart buyer would go to the domain owner to confirm the sale, and the owner would have no idea about the other buyer. This would make the middle man look like he was doing something illicit. It can be lucrative, but it’s risky, especially when personal reputation means so much.

    Escrow.com is just the intermediary to help parties transact and the company created a product that has a demand. There is a very legitimate reason for the broker transaction because if a domain broker put a deal together, buyer and seller would likely expect him to ensure the deal is completed and they would want him to facilitate it at Escrow.com.

    May 3rd, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Rich

    @Elliot

    Elliot, I can appreciate your approach to brokering deals but the flaw in Escrow’s model is stated quite clearly in your blog entry:

    “One benefit that might cause some additional discussion is that the broker can set one purchase price for the buyer and a lower price for the seller, allowing him to keep the commission amount private.”

    For small transactions this may work, but this DOA when it comes to high value names. There may still be one or two clueless high value domain owners out there, but I have talked to many and none of us buy into this broker dominated transaction world. The transaction has to be transparent and crystal clear or the dog will not hunt.

    Rather than continuing to try to push this old, failed business model, why not instead start moving the industry forward by copying the transparent real estate MLS model? I model that is fair to all parties and where broker commissions are set and upheld in all instances.

    May 4th, 2012 at 12:03 am

    Elliot Silver

    @ Rich

    Here’s an example of when this type of deal is necessary.

    You tell me I can have 20% commission if I sell your name, X.com for $100,000. I find a buyer and you do the deal with him via Escrow.com. I now have to have faith in your paying me. Now I am sure you’re honest, but there are plenty of people that would cut the broker out and tell him to take him to court. Let’s say you live somewhere overseas and I am in the US. It would likely cost more than $20,000 in legal fees to get my rightfully earned $20,000.

    With the broker transaction at Escrow.com, I can easily act as the broker and collect my $20,000 fee while you take home your $80,000.

    If you are concerned that you may be getting screwed, you should be sure you’re working with someone reputable and get everything in writing. You can even ask the person on the other end of the deal to certify that the purchase price is what he says it is. Ultimately, though, if you’re happy with your agreed upon sales price, you should be content.

    I do see the other side though and would likely be upset if I sold you X.com for $5k and found out that you had sold it to someone else for $100k before paying me. That’s why you need to be mindful of whether you are working with a domain broker or someone who isn’t representing a buyer or seller.

    May 4th, 2012 at 12:10 am

    Don

    If you are selling someone else’s name for them and you are not getting what they want up front for the name up front then why wasting your time trying to sell that name for them.

    As a broker or whatever you want to call them, If the agreement says sell my name at 100k and whatever you get above that you can keep. Then this is where this service would be great. One top broker has been doing it this way for years. Does not waste his time, your commission is unlimited.

    If you the seller do not have a fixed price upon what you will sell the name for up front then you have a broker-seller issue and the clients interest maybe at jeopardy in that case but not with set priced agreement.

    This is service will be a benefit to many people. I don’t think most owners really care what you make as long as you get them what they want. Who cares what the broker makes if they have the contact person and skills to sell a domain name for double the amount and the seller already agreed to sell at a fixed amount then let the broker make his money.

    A furniture outlet store will sell you crap furniture with a 200% market up, this is no different, if that crap outlet store can find a buyer for that crap furniture then let them make the money. It is all about finding the buyer.

    Donny

    May 4th, 2012 at 12:35 am

    Francois

    Congrats Andie, Brandon and all the Escrow.com team for this long time expected feature.
    Usage should not be huge because there is not a lot of domain brokers but for a broker it’s really a true plus.
    The proof is this was one the main missing features that push us to develop our own competing service.
    I will probably use it and will tell you if I feel something should be improved even if with Andrew as beta tester you certainly got a very good feedback.
    Don’t inovate too much or we are not even going to eat the crumbs ;-)

    May 4th, 2012 at 3:30 am

    domainggg

    I congratulate escrow.com for launching this service to public, I don’t see any flaws with this transaction, if seller is happy with what (s)he is getting and buyer is happy to pay the price for a domain he wants, so there is no flaw, both parties are happy and broker is getting his brokerage or profit.

    finally all wells when end wells…
    keep rocking escrow.com!!!

    May 4th, 2012 at 4:33 am

    Andee Hill

    Thank you to everyone for the comments. Escrow.com appreciates that there can be many different business models regarding compensation for facilitating a deal.

    We designed this service with four disclosure options; Confidential, Transparent to Buyer, Transparent to Seller, and Transparent to Buyer and Seller.

    In our beta testing, the larger transactions heavily leaned toward Transparent to Buyer and Seller. This is not surprising and we would expect this trend to continue. As Rich said, savoy domain owners would demand this.

    We require full disclosure on our Domain Holding Service.

    I think Elliot’s original scenario might better fit the situation where a “flipper” has a buyer purchase a domain for $450.00 from a seller for $300.00. This service allows the smaller sales, that likely could involve two end users, to safely complete the transaction. Maybe this group is forgetting about the much smaller transactions?

    Regardless of the size of the transaction, the service offers the four disclosure options to suit different scenarios. We hope the parties involved select the disclosure level (and a broker) that they feel comfortable with.

    May 4th, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Andrew Rosener

    @ Rich

    Your point is taken, but as I said, 99% of all of our transactions are completely transparent to both buyer and seller. We NEVER play both sides and the party who is paying our commission is always fully aware of the actual commission amount.

    You are missing the point that the buyer and/or seller have the option to demand full disclosure in which case the transaction is as you said “crystal clear”.

    Do not make blanket assumptions about how all brokers handle domain transactions. We work as a broker for many large portfolio owners as well as large corporations. Most recently we did a transaction on behalf of Dow Jones Corporation, USING THE ESCROW.COM BROKER SERVICE.

    Making false assumptions as you have made only hurts yourself. You keep the value of your portfolio locked up where you can not access it because you are not willing to work with professional domain brokers who as Don said “find the buyers”, and at the end of the day in a market which is not liquid, it’s all about the ability to find the buyer.

    May 4th, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Rich

    @Andee Hill

    Thank you the additional information. It is helpful to all parties to have complete transparency and to ensure proper payment to the broker for services provided.

    @Andrew

    The lack of liquidity and transparency makes the premium domain market difficult to navigate. The new Escrow.com service for Brokers does address the problem of ensuring proper payment to Brokers after a domain name has been transferred. This is often a discussion point when negotiating a Brokers Agreement and the new Escrow.com Brokers service should make this issue easier to resolve.

    May 4th, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    domaining

    Kinda late to post this and get a full view on this.

    I done deals and represented buyers and sellers. I disclose who I am representing as well and commissions are paid. Again I’m not a broker neither.

    I feel Rob is right on the mark imo. Perfectly said.

    There are major conflict of interests at times with brokers and working with buyers and sellers. Friends and etc. I am not saying all brokers are operating in bad faith.

    I think this escrow.com new feature is good and nothing wrong in using it the right way. Guiding the buyer and seller is the number one objective imo.

    Now what I don’t get is hidden commissions and working spreads. Is that the proper ethics of being a broker? Why not be upfront and first disclose who your representing.

    I don’t think this broker escrow eithics part is overall bad imo. Who benefits? Kinda like the movie Boiler Room and back door deals.

    Being a domain flipper in and out of deals quickly I can see where this would benefit things possible.

    Now again sorry to be voice of reason. No disrespect to MediaOptions or escrow.com. Both are good companies. Escrow works great for me and an amazing platform. Bringing them more business. The broker works hard and takes on risks. I do like the concept of making sure both parties know what there doing. Kinda like moderate the transaction. But let’s keep things in perspective as well.

    I will have to test this out in the future. Think its good and test things.

    May 5th, 2012 at 3:48 am

    domaining

    I just want to add

    What would happen if a broker decides take advantage of this feature and the commission cut would be 40 percent as an example due to this hidden fee issue.

    Now the deal closes and let’s say the buyer and seller decide to email each other and ask what the price was at both ends. This would upset both parties imo. Then the broker needs to do damage control and risk of losing 2 customers as well. Possible more damage then just this.

    I do see this feature as good and getting more liquidity as well especially if an end user dosent get escrow or concept.

    I just see more flaws then good things with this.

    May 5th, 2012 at 4:04 am

    WhoAPI

    I agree with Rob and understand the pain, but I don’t think it’s Escrow’s (or other service with similar function) job to change the way industry works. Escrow is just a tool, and with this feature it just got better. Escrow shouldn’t become a cop.

    Maybe they had a poor choice of name (broker service), but a feature definitely needed as Andee explained with a great example. People that take advantage of “owner” and “buyer” have nothing to do with services for transactions, they will find a way to do this (like they have in the past). I think that’s a different industry problem.

    May 7th, 2012 at 4:42 am

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