SnapNames.com is an online auction and marketplace site which allows users to purchase thousands of available domain names or to list their own domain names for sale. The domain names available on the site belong either to private owners or they can be expired domains that were no longer renewed by their original holders.
The site offers several methods for trading domain names. Buy It Now (also called BIN) is a method where the seller establishes a fixed sale price, and the first buyer willing to pay it gets the domain (once the payment is completed, the transfer happens automatically in the background, risk-free). Alternatively, domains can be sold via time-limited legally-binding auctions or by direct negotiations (“make an offer”).
Prices can get as low as $10 USD for a domain name sold via the auction system, while the premium names can reach millions of dollars. The site is well known in the domain gurus community and enjoys around 20’000 unique monthly visitors, which adds liquidity to the market and facilitates a speedy conversion between domains and cold hard cash. The site’s commission varies, depending on the type of sale, between 15% and 25% of the final sale price.
In november 2009 it was revealed that a SnapNames employee placed bids in the site’s domain auctions over a time-span of 4 years. As this violated SnapNames’ policy, the employee got fired. The company refunded all customers affected by paying the difference in the price hike attributed to the employee’s participation in the auctions (plus interest). The site seems to have recovered after the incident, in no small part due to their upfront disclosure and fast action once the issue was discovered.