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The Nuts and Bolts Of How To Buy And Sell Websites: Part 3 of 3

In Part 1 of this series of how to buy and sell websites, I detailed Steps 1 and 2 of the process. Those steps involved buyers and sellers coming to an agreement and the payment methods that are available to both parties to complete the deal. In part 2, I detailed step 3 of the process: getting the domain to the buyer and determining the hosting arrangement. In this final part of the series I will be covering the fourth and final step: handing the keys of the site to the buyer or transferring the site.

Step 4: Handing The Keys Of The Site To The Buyer
Or Transferring The Site

Once the domain has been transferred to the buyer the, seller needs to get the actual website in the buyer’s possession. The seller can do this by handing the keys to the buyer or by transferring the site to the buyer’s web host. The specific options available to accomplish either one are:

Option 1: Seller Hosts The Site Via A Reseller Account
Option 2: Seller “Hands Over The Keys” To A Shared Hosting Account
Option 3: Seller Transfers the Site To The Buyer’s Web Host

Let’s take a look at each option…

Option 1: Seller Hosts The Site Via A Reseller Account

Most people that flip websites have a shared account or a reseller account. I’m not going to get into the nuts and bolts of shared vs. reseller accounts because it’s beyond the scope of this article (although I will likely write about that topic in the near future so stay tuned). Suffice it to say, a reseller hosting account gives you the opportunity to “resell” hosting services through your own account.

In this arrangement, you basically share your hosting account with someone else and pass along the hosting costs to the person you are hosting for – and you can charge anything you want. The person you are hosting for has their own account within your account so the person doesn’t have access to any of your websites or files. For this hosting arrangement then, the seller would offer to host the website for the buyer and would give the buyer access to the hosting account immediately. The buyer then pays the seller a hosting fee that the two parties agree on.

The advantages of this arrangement are that the buyer doesn’t have to obtain hosting elsewhere and doesn’t have to deal with having a website transferred to another hosting account. There is also no downtime of the site at all since nothing is being moved from one hosting account to another – and the name servers don’t have to be changed either. It’s truly a painless and turnkey option for both the buyer and seller. There is also the added benefit for the seller to have a small residual income by providing hosting services.

Option 2: Seller “Hands Over The Keys” To A Shared Hosting Account

Some people who flip websites regularly will create new shared hosting accounts for each website they develop to flip. For example, a website flipper might own 10 websites that are each hosted on their own shared hosting account. In this example, the seller will be paying for 10 separate shared accounts on a monthly basis. This is the most expensive way to setup the hosting as a website flipper. The main advantage, however, is that this setup makes it incredibly easy and painless for both the buyer and the seller.

In this arrangement, the seller will hand over the shared account to the buyer. The seller will simply change all the information over to the buyer’s name, contact info, billing info, etc. and give the buyer access to the account. The buyer will literally take ownership of the account moving forward and will be responsible for the billing.

Unlike the arrangement in option 1, the buyer will not pay the seller for the hosting. The buyer will pay the hosting company directly and will pay whatever that company charges. This option is just like the buyer going out and creating a new account at a web host. The only difference is the seller doesn’t have to transfer the site to another hosting account so there are no delays or down time – and the name servers don’t have to be changed. The buyer just takes ownership of the existing hosting account and has immediate access to the site.

Option 3: Seller Transfers the Site To The Buyer’s Web Host

This is the most common arrangement between buyers and sellers because typically buyers will have their own hosting accounts already. Unfortunately, it is also the most complex and time consuming option – particularly if the site is large with any kind of database (i.e. most WordPress sites).
In this arrangement, the website and all the files associated with it are literally moved from the seller’s hosting account to the buyer’s hosting account. This would be analogous to moving computer files on your computer to someone else’s computer. This option also requires that the name servers be changed with the domain registrar.

The details involved in the process of transferring a site are beyond the scope of this article. I will, however, be writing on the topic in the near future and I will also be providing a step-by-step video of the process. Until then, the basic steps involved are:

1. Backup all website files (and database if applicable)
2. Download all website files (and export database if applicable)
3. Add the domain via an addon domain (shared hosting) or create a new account with a separate cPanel (reseller hosting)
3. Change name servers at domain registrar to point to the buyer’s web host
4. Upload all website files to the buyer’s web host (and import database if applicable)

After all the files and the database are in place, the buyer will have full control and possession of the domain and the website. Any funds that are in escrow will be released to the seller, or if any money is owed to the seller (doing a direct payment deal), it will be sent at this point. The deal will be officially over!

This concludes the three-part series on how to buy and sell websites – specifically the process of the deal itself. I hope it helps you newbies out there. As you can see, the process isn’t as difficult or overwhelming as it might seem at first glance. Now get out there and start flipping websites!

About Travis Van Slooten

Travis is an affiliate marketer and website flipper who ran FlipWebsites.com until the Fall of 2010.

This entry was posted in Selling Websites and tagged , , , .

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  • http://twitter.com/craigslistcar craigslist

    Nice info Thanks for posting tips buy sell sites.

  • http://experienced-people.net/ Clinton

    Travis, I’ve got some detailed info on transferring websites here: http://www.experienced-people.co.uk/1022-transfer-site-new-hosting/

    While I have no doubt you’ll put together an excellent article, I’m happy to sign a release if you want to use anything from that section of my site.

    • Travis


      Holy cow! That link is a treasure trove of valuable information on transferring sites. Thanks for sharing this. I may have to take you up on your offer and use some of your material. I’ll let you know.

      I’m going to be putting together some very “user-friendly” step-by-step stuff along with videos as well.


  • http://thesologazette.blogspot.com Gina

    Hi Travis,
    Any idea when part 4 will be coming – this part of transferring the files and uploading to the buyer’s account seems a bit daunting.

    Have a question about uploading the files to the buyer’s hosting account – Is this absolutely necessary to do this for the buyer? If I bought a website the issue for me would be the security of allowing another person access to my hosting account.

    I know it can be limited, but wouldn’t it be easier for the buyer to upload the files and configure the site the way they wanted rather than have me futzing around in there?

    • Travis


      My goal is to have cover that topic within a week or so.

      Regarding uploading files to the buyer’s account – that is totally up to you and should be discussed with the buyer. Some sellers won’t do it for the buyers. They specifically state in their auctions that they will not move the website for the buyer. They require the buyer to do it themselves.

      Other sellers will do it for the buyers as a “bonus” for buying the site. The past couple sites I purchased the seller did everything for me.

      If you’re not comfortable doing it for the buyer (or having it done for you by a seller), then you’ll have to plan accordingly. Someone will have to move the files – either the buyer, seller, or some third party:)


  • http://www.freelancewritingtools.com Nisha

    Hi Travis,
    I really wanted to learn the 3rd option [Transferring from one shared hosting to another shared hosting]. I couldn’t find this info in your FREE report as well. Looking forward to your next post on the same.

    Thanks for sharing such a valuable info in a “Newbie Friendly” tone.


    • Travis


      You’re welcome…and I am working on flushing out the details for the third option. There is a lot of demand for this tutorial so I’m hoping to get it up asap.



      • http://www.freelancewritingtools.com Nisha

        My Lord! You replied my comment in 30 seconds! Are YOU here Always….

        Thanks Again,


        • Travis

          No…lol. Just always connected and online:)


  • http://www.startearningnow.co.uk paul

    Great information, thank for sharing, building and Flipping is going to be a new string to my income streams, so this is really valuable, I have subscribed

    • Travis

      Thanks Paul. Glad you enjoyed it – and thanks for subscribing to my weekly newsletter.


  • http://www.websiteflippingsuccess.com WebsiteFlipingSuccess

    I like the way you explained the options that are available for the buyer to have access to the website. I can’t imagine that many website flippers will use option 2, especially when they are doing this on a regular basis.

    Although you wrote that you intend to cover transferring a site in the future, I felt it would have been much better when you made this part 4 of the series on How to Buy and Sell Websites.

    • Travis

      I thought about that – about creating a “Part 4″ that would cover the actual transfer but to be honest, I didn’t know when I was going to get a chance to cover that so I didn’t want to tie it in with this series. When I get around to publishing the actual transferring of a site, I will definitely link to it from this post though.