Here’s a question I get asked a lot. “There is a domain name that I am dying to get my hands on, and it is getting close to the expiration date. What’s the best way to grab it if the owner lets it expire?”
First you need to understand the domain life-cycle.
When a domain first expires, it doesn’t drop from the owner’s account for about 80 days (typically). It just becomes inactive and unusable to the current owner.
Once the initial expiration date arrives, the domain first enters an “auto-renew grace period” of 45 days or so. During that time, the current owner is allowed to renew at the regular registration cost.
After the grace period, it enters a “redemption period” of about 30 days, where the registrar can get it back for the owner, typically at a cost of a few hundred dollars.
If no action is taken by that point, the domain enters the last phase called “pending delete”. This is a 5-day period, and after the 5 days, the domain is released to the public once again.
If you’re hoping to take possession of the domain from the current owner, you’ll have a total of about 80 days from the initial expiration date before you can have a chance at it. This of course is assuming the current owner allows it to run the full expiration cycle.
To obtain the domain you have three options:
1) Wait until the domain becomes available and register it yourself as soon as it is released. This is risky, as there may be others waiting too. The fastest one wins. And usually, the fastest one is a drop-catch service, as described next.
2) Use a drop-catch service like SnapNames.com or NameJet.com. You place a backorder for $69, and they will try to snag the domain for you the moment it becomes available. Be aware that others will have the option to bid higher than you, and the price could increase dramatically if it is a very desirable name.
3) Approach the current owner and make an offer to buy.
The bottom line is, decide how important the domain is to you. If you won’t be devastated if someone beats you to it, just play the waiting game as in #1. If it is really a domain you don’t want to be without, place a backorder with one of the drop-catch companies in #2. If it turns out the domain owner doesn’t let the domain completely drop, put on your best negotiation hat and contact the owner directly.
P.S. Find GREAT expiring domain names for free, here: Expired Domains