V. Additional things to consider when buying or selling a web site
When buying or selling a website there are many factors to consider that will ensure a smoother transaction. While “buyers should always beware”, following a few simple suggestions could avoid problems later. They are presented in no particular order.
Personal monthly involvement in site
Will the seller offer any assistance or help after the transaction is over? How much of your time, effort, know how will maintaining and operating the site require. Do you have all the technical as well as creative skills to maintain the site?
How long will old owner stay on board
How long will the owner stay at the site and train the buyer in running and maintaining the site?
Make sure to closely look at any Profit and Loss (P&L) statements. Try to look up at back-up documentations such as tax forms, banking records and other information. It is always a good idea to have an accountant or CPA review all the information. Accountants and CPA can also advise you on any possible tax consequences involved in such a transaction.
Like in any transactions, whether you are the buyer or the seller of a website, it is important to have an agreement with the other party. The agreement should set forth all the terms of the transaction. Try to provide for all contingencies. You can find useful forms for buying and selling website here.
Consult with an attorney
Just as it is wise to have an accountant review the numbers, it is very smart to have an attorney review and/or or help with the agreement as well as advising you any potential problems, pitfalls or other issue relating to the purchase or sale of the web site.
Use an escrow service
It is advisable to use an escrow for the transfer of the website and the domain name. There are several online escrow companies that can assist with this kind of transaction. The escrow company usually chanrges a small fee (based on the total dollar amount of the transaction) to assist with the deal.
Logistics and ease of moving the site to another server
Be sure to figure out ahead of time the logistics of actually physically “taking over” the website. There are many steps involved – from transferring domains, moving servers, changing DNS, to transferring records and information and much more – that should be carefully planned in advance.
Extra services provided by hosting
If you plan on keeping the site you are buying with the current hosting company find out what their current service offers and if they offer any other services. For example do they offer good technical support, programming services, available libraries of software to use on the site, other tools, statistics packages etc..
When you buy a car you have it “checked out” by a mechanic, should you do so with a web site?
Figure out if there are any technical issues involved with the website you are acquiring? If you don’t have the technical knowledge, you will need to find someone qualified to look “under the “hood of the website” and make sure that all programs and databases are fine and that everything is in order with the site from a more technical standpoint.