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Selling £six figure website

   
11:34 am on Mar 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



I'm in the final stages of agreeing to sell one of my websites for a six figure £ amount. I need any advice you can give me about the sales procedure. I don't need advice as to if I should sell it - the price is right and I want to sell.

I'm in the UK, the buyer is an Israeli and his company already owns several popular sites.

We are going to use a well-established escrow company to transfer money and ownership. But aside from that I have no idea what pitfalls await me in the final stages. Could anyone use a purchase like this to damage me? I have two other popular websites and several smaller ones.

I haven't seen any contract yet, I am meeting the guy on Thursday in London. He most certainly has experience of buying / selling websites in the past. I have no experience.

Any ideas or warnings will be most gratefully received.

Worried from Warwick.
4:53 pm on Mar 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member topr8 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



good luck!
8:14 pm on Mar 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I don't want to sway you from selling, since you have your reasons and every business owner gets to the point where they want to move on to something else at some point... BUT.. Years ago I was "this" close to selling my site. We actually agreed on the price... but what we could not agree on was the delivery of payment. The buyer wanted to may me installments over time. I wanted lump sum.

Long story short, I opted to keep the site and put it on auto-pilot. That was about 9 years ago. Today the site makes more money in a month than what I almost sold it for back then. So maybe the sale falling through is not a bad thing...

But if you are ready to move on, I completely understand. Now that it is 10 years later, I can see myself getting closer to selling again. Just for a change of pace!
4:54 pm on Mar 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



About the escrow service, I've been reading up about that. It seems the normal procedure is for the sale money to be paid to the escrow company and then I give the buyer access to my code etc. for a set time.

My code does have something in the asp which is unique to my area of the web and it would take eons to work out how to code and implement it from a blank piece of paper. As far as I can see, the buyer will get access to my code for a few days. 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?
6:11 pm on Mar 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



One idea: with hold that piece of code/logic from the review process. I can't see why one piece of code would break a deal... the buyer probably won't even know it is missing if you are just sending them source to review... They probably just want to make sure it isn't all spaghetti code....
7:36 pm on Mar 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



If you're selling the entire web site, the transfer of the domain is the proof Escrow.com uses to determine if you've kept your end of the bargain.
8:34 pm on Mar 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



Maximillianos - in this particular case I think they will notice. The asp bit runs site wide and almost any page would clearly be incomplete without it, unfortunately.

Artefaqs - is that remark about transfer of domain from experience? That would be a good approach from my view. Transfer the domain to them as proof and that requires transfer of money to me.

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? Sorry to be a pain and keep asking! Anyone had specific experience?

Hopefully the guy will buy my website and I can document my experience along the way for others to benefit from it. Possibly I might get completely conned and still people will benefit from my experience. More likely of course, the sale will still fall through.
8:52 pm on Mar 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator buckworks is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I sold a site recently, and the process was that when they put down a deposit, I gave them access to copy the site to their own servers. But they didn't control of the domain name until their next payment was in my lawyer's hands.

I didn't have any clever code to protect, though. What made the site valuable was the backlinks so cloning my content wouldn't do them much good until they had the domain to go with it.
8:56 pm on Mar 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



nomis5 - That was what happened the last time I sold a site, which was in late January.

From memory (so I may have left something out):

Step 1: Buyer started a new transaction and sent money to Escrow.com
Step 2: Buyer's money cleared Escrow.com and Escrow.com notified me to transfer the web site.
Step 3: I uploaded all of the code to the buyer's server, began the domain transfer notified Escrow.com.
Step 4: The "inspection period" started. Three calendar days during which the buyer had the option to tell Escrow.com that he liked what he saw and to release the money to me immediately. But the buyer wasn't everything he was supposed to be (not technically savvy) so at the end of the three days of me trying to explain what a database is to the buyer, Escrow.com verified that the domain had been transferred (through a whois lookup) and released the money to me.
9:09 pm on Mar 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



Buckworks, Artefaqs,

Thanks for those replies. So it looks like the normal is the buyer gets to see the code for a couple of days but does not get the domain until the money is transferred. That matches what JS-Harris indicated earlier.

I suppose there is always some risk in any transaction. And maybe, just maybe, I am being a bit protective about my precious asp code! Possibly anyone with a brain could do the same. And without the backlinks and domain name maybe it's not worth that much.

Panic over then, thanks.
9:26 pm on Mar 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



I think the fact that he tried to hose you out of your first price, then came back with a better offer shows two things:

1 - He places a lot of value on ownership of your site.
2 - He cannot be trusted.

I like the way Buckworks handled it. You're talking six figures here. A lawyer is a minor expense compared with what you might lose.
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