oddsod - 11:23 am on Mar 11, 2010 (gmt 0) [edited by: phranque at 4:01 pm (utc) on Mar 11, 2010]
I'm in the UK, the buyer is an Israeli ...We are going to use a well-established escrow company
As long as it's not escrow dot com. If he's an experienced buyer (like me) he could get your site for free and without you having any case against him ;) It's as easy as pie. I've done it in the past - by accident (though I always made restitution to the seller as soon as I discovered the problem). If it can be done by accident you bet that a canny enough buyer can do it intentionally.
He could copy off the code, decide he doesn't want to buy and that's it? Is there any way round that problem? Any thoughts?
There is no way around that if you're using a Californian based escrow company rather than a UK legal firm. Or any escrow company anywhere in the world that happens to have registered for US business in the state of California.
Possibly I might get completely conned
You don't need to. I've written extensively about the sale of sites, safe transactions and smooth transfers and have been involved in the sale/purchase of millions of dollars worth of sites. Drop me a sticky for links to my material on the subject or ask in the thread for answers.
But this whole thing now appears quite complicated. If the domain is they key, what about the hosting, after all that's where the code resides? Is it normal to give the buyer the password to the hosting account and let them keep the account / copy the code to their own account?
There is no "normal". Each case is individual and it's up to you to decide the conditions you want to impose, the route you want the transaction to take. Decide that with your lawyer prior to drawing up the contract. Bear in mind that if you use an escrow company (particularly the one I think you're planning on using), their terms and conditions and grievance procedure complete replace the carefully drawn up contract between buyer and seller and your rights under UK law.
[edited by: oddsod at 11:28 am (utc) on Mar 11, 2010]
[edit reason] see StickyMail [/edit]
[edited by: phranque at 4:01 pm (utc) on Mar 11, 2010]