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Confidential Listings – A New Way to Sell Quality Websites

Recently we’ve had a few website sellers come to us saying they’d love to list on Flippa but they’re not entirely comfortable with everyone — maybe competitors or current customers — knowing their website is for sale.

Given the pivotal role of the website’s domain in our listings, this was not possible… until now.

Furthermore, a number of sellers have been requesting that buyers sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) prior to asking questions or bidding. This is a handy way to qualify buyers while preserving trade secrets… and it’s something we’ve made simpler.

As of today, a website seller can choose to make their new listing confidential. This will result in the URL being hidden from buyers until the seller has approved the buyer’s signed NDA.

How It Works

For Website Sellers

When sellers create their listing, they can select the “Confidential Listing” option.

This will hide the URL and other site-revealing information such as the WHOIS, Ranking Keywords, Hosting and Wayback Machine details from everyone apart from the seller and approved buyers. Note that sellers can only define the website for sale as being confidential when the listing is created—it cannot be turned on or off once the listing is live.

The seller manages their NDAs via the “confidentiality agreement” link on the listing page.  From here, the seller can select to either use a default NDA provided by Flippa or upload their own version in PDF format prior to going live. Once the listing is active, the seller uses this page to approve or reject applicants.

Confidential Listings continue to appear for all searches and result pages such as Just Listed, Most Active, Browse, keyword searches, revenue/traffic refinements etc – but without their identifying information.

confidential-listing-example.png

For Website Buyers

Potential website buyers can view the NDA for a Confidential Listing via the “confidentiality agreement” link on the auction details page. After the website buyer has read and agreed to the NDA from this page, the website seller is notified and can approve or reject the application.

Approved buyers can then view all the listing details and submit bids as if it were a standard listing.

While public comments are not available for Confidential Listings at this stage, buyers can still send a private message to the website seller.

Who Should Use It

It is important to note that the Confidential Listings are designed specifically for websites where a public auction may devalue the site in question. They’re not for everyone.

To begin with, Confidential Listings require increased time investment to manage the list of approved NDA signatories while still managing individual bids. Furthermore, the NDA step means the listing is likely to attract fewer bids, but the bidders themselves will be higher quality.

This upgrade costs $100 on top of your listing fee to minimize abuse and ensure the feature is only used when required. As such, it may not be an economical add-on for low-value websites.

FAQs

What Happens to Due Diligence Information?

All due diligence details are provided where this does not give away the specific website. For example, the Alexa rank and related information are available, but the standard “more detail on this site” link does not appear until the user has been approved.

What Happens to Upgrades?

All Flippa upgrades remain available for Confidential Listings however some behave a little differently:

  • Tweet listing to @flippa followers: This will be in the usual format however the domain will be sent as “Hidden URL”.
  • Screenshot on listing row: If selected, this will display the Confidential Listing icon from the auction details page.

What Happens to Comments?

Public comments have been removed for Confidential Listings at this stage to remove any risk of the specific details of the listing being made publicly available. Concerned users can still report suspicious Confidential Listings using the standard “Report It” link if required.

What Happens When a Buyer Breaches the NDA?

The NDA is a legally binding document between the buyer and the seller. The obligation remains on the seller to enforce the NDA should any breaches be identified, though Flippa can provide information about when the agreement was formed. On the basis that a breach may constitute fraud, Flippa retains the right to suspend user accounts that are found to be actively seeking to compromise the Confidential Listing or NDA process.

Image: Sir Mo

This is arguably the biggest enhancement on Flippa so far this year – do not hesitate to let us know below if you have any comments or questions.

  • http://www.flippingplanet.com Thomas

    Good idea, Andrew. About time an option like this was available. Definitely a step in the right direction.

    How do you justify the $100 price tag? Costs have already gone up substantially this year (up to 100% for some features) and all a seller is effectively paying for is more privacy and less exposure. I would have thought that making it a free option would be fairer as we’re not actually getting anything extra (arguably less than with a regular listing).

    How are you going to ensure sellers are actually selling a site and not just doing lead gen for site buyers? I would have thought this option will just lead to more private deals outside of Flippa.

    Thomas

    • http://KimberlyInman.com Kimberly Inman

      Not liking the price either, will have to see how this really pans out in the coming days.

      Seems like a good idea though.

    • http://flippa.com/ Andrew Knibbe

      Thanks Thomas/Kimberly.
      The price point is being employed as a mechanism so that listings are only made confidential when it is really required such as for a relatively high profile website. This upgrade is not expected to appeal to everyone for this reason.

      • http://theaveragegenius.net JamestheJust

        That’s just smart business, Andrew. Good move, imho – otherwise every $200 website would become confidential…

  • http://webdirectoryforsale.com mudassar

    Hmmm… Seems interesting.

  • http://www.realtorscolumbia.com [email protected]

    I can see where some websites want to keep some of this info confidential, but I hope that not too many website owners use this new service.

    Thanks for the info.

    • http://flippa.com/ Andrew Knibbe

      Thanks Jhoe.
      We share your concern but expect the price and the reduced exposure to act as a mechanism so this only occurs for sites where it is appropriate.

      As a result, we’re not expecting Flippa to turn into a sea of confidential listings any time soon!

      • http://www.eparrs.com/ Web Page Designer

        Hi Andrew,

        Oh! Sooooo the confidential is optional then? Now I get it.

        I too thought you meant that ALL listings will now become confidential. And yes, the $100 optional price tag SHOULD discourage EVERYONE from using this option.

        This new goody you’ve added to Flippa makes it MUCH more intriguing to list more expensive, well-known websites for sale.

        Good addition,
        Trish

  • http://psychicspirit.info psychic spirit

    This is a good idea but it should be extra or everyone will start selecting it even if it is a new website. Just like hiding you whois information is extra money this should be as well.

  • http://www.freeyoutubetomp3converter.org [email protected]

    That is a good feature right there. Thanks for adding this.

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  • http://blogreloaded.com Tinh

    Nice feature and it would be very useful for both sides. Thanks

  • Cornel

    BRAVO! That’s what I can say. 🙂

  • http://www.iphoneproguide.com/ Alex

    indeed is great idea, however $100 is quite hot for average sellers…

  • http://www.200.co Raman

    Super feature both bit high price.

    Thanks

  • http://www.padmembership.com Tom Bodetti

    Not really very compelling, there are already several platforms that offer this FREE of charge, adding $100 for a feature that really is not in demand, not too bright

  • http://www.shaynecuffy.net Shayne Cuffy

    I guess we’ll see how this plays out once a few more high-end sellers get involved and start giving feedback.

  • Chris

    Great idea – was thinking that this would be a nice feature just the other day, and for the size/value of sites that would make use of this feature, $100 is a drop in the ocean.

  • http://a-s-k.co Ciprian Gherghescu

    @Tom, yes but maybe you don’t want to show everyone you’re selling.

  • http://nichebloggingtreasure.com Suzanne

    Great feature. Now people can list GNews sites with less chance of being delisted by GNews. That’s one application for this feature.

  • http://www.internetbusinesstechnology.com [email protected]

    I think this is a good idea in concept. I think if I had a high value website to sell I would want quality buyers who would appreciate the site and work that went behind it. If I can get a higher price then the fee will be justified.

  • http://www.ganhadinheiroenquantodormes.com David

    This is a good idea but it should be extra or everyone will start selecting it even if it is a new website. Just like hiding you whois information is extra money this should be as well.

  • http://www.googlefaxservice.com google fax service

    Andrew, kudos on the new feature. I have several domains that I would like to list as well. The only problem is, you kind of set a precedent if you are not happy with the price.
    Thanks for including this.
    Matt

  • Caleb

    Can you show us a demo listing or screenshot?

    Caleb

    • http://flippa.com/ Andrew Knibbe

      Good point Caleb – we’ve added it now.

  • http://www.Cognation.net Dean Collins

    ha ha, you’re kidding right. Sorry but not going to happen.

    NDA’s arent worth the paper they are written on.

    What you should allow is a non index version of the listing eg if i put a website up for sale i may not want to list the url to search engines, but all this requires is a image”ification” of the url.

    Not worth the money you are trying to charge.

    Sorry but it has to be said both flippa and 99designs are throttling the transaction proces with high fees.

    lower the fees and prevent copycats from being implemented otherwise soemone will build up market momentum to over take you.

  • Jonniv

    The idea sounds good, and like all good ideas you need to put them out there and tweak them until they work in the most efficient way. The fact that Flipa is putting out the idea to its subscribers shows that they value the option of its users

  • Nick

    This is really great, I had sold few sites on flippa, and I have seen people copying exactly what I do.I’m never gonna make same mistake by showing the url in public anymore, this feature should be really good.

  • http://flippingethics.com Chris

    That is great news for scammers and con-men. Now whistle-blowers have no power to report on rouge listings nor help novices find red flags or pitfalls. I would hope that since Flippa relies on the assistance of outside eyes to help police their marketplace some accounts would be given a level of access.

    I can see how this service would be very useful to legitimate sellers and amazing for scammers and fraudsters. I can name a few sellers who have been banned who will be right back on Flippa rejoicing that people such as myself can no longer “out” them.

    If you are bidding on a “confidential” auction remember BUYER BEWARE is now more important that ever… It appears you can not share the details of the listing to get expert help and it may even impede your recourse should you get burned.

    • http://flippa.com/ Andrew Knibbe

      Thanks Chris.
      We’re anticipating this add-on to appeal primarily to premium website buyers and sellers. In the case of buyers who have taken the time to read and agree to an NDA, we would expect them to be more likely to report listings that are wasting their time. On the other side, sellers are risking a considerably higher listing fee if their auction is ultimately suspended.

      • Jason

        Chris brings up a great point here. Scammers, fraudsters, crime rings, etc. will be love this feature. When you specify premium websites, what does that really mean? 20k, 50k, 200k in price? Really, if a con artist is selling a site for those amounts, $100 is nothing to keep them from using that feature. I was ripped off from a Flippa listing for over six figures! I was a newbie at the time and trusted that Flippa had the safeguards in place. I was conned into buying the site outside of Flippa. And even now the seller is still on Flippa trying to sell other sites. This feature would make it impossible to warn potential buyers of these people. I think you guys should be focusing on how to make Flippa safer rather than enabling those con artists.

        • http://flippa.com/ Andrew Knibbe

          Thanks Jason. Sorry to hear about your negative experience. However, if you’re conducting your transaction outside of Flippa, there is zero we can do to assist you – in fact you specifically agreed to not do this when you created your account on Flippa.

          Be assured that most new buyers on Flippa read our site rules and buyer help sections to prepare themselves before bidding on a listing … let alone engaging in a six figure transaction. There are furthermore some great forums out there with members who provide each other with impartial advice on the pros and cons of a given listing.

          A valuable take-out here is to be on your guard if a seller or their listing is in any way suspicious (eg looking to transact off Flippa).

          Either way, please report the seller to our support team and we’ll take a closer look.

        • Jason

          Hi Andrew. Thanks for the reply. Just so you know, I didn’t just jump into the transaction and I did do a lot of due diligence. It took me several months of research and speaking with the seller before I decided to do the transaction. At that point the listing had been expired on Flippa for some time. The seller insisted on just doing the transaction through Escrow.

          The issue isn’t whether it was a legitimate business but rather the revenue claimed by the seller was no where near what he stated. Some con-artists are just good at what they do.

          The single most important piece of information I didn’t know at the time could have saved me a lot of money and frustration. Believe me, I thought I did as much as I could to make sure everything was what he claimed. Several times we had video calls where he logged into the PayPal account and I was allowed to see and run monthly reports to see the revenue. Which I might add showed the revenues he was claiming per month.

          So the piece of info I didn’t know was that you can have up to 8 emails attached to a PayPal account. Meaning you can have 8 different revenue streams coming into that account. Even though you run the monthly transaction report you don’t see where those transactions came from.

          There are many other things I could go into about what the seller lied about but there is probably not enough room here to do so. Not to mention that he signed a 5 year non-compete and I’ve just found out that he has created a duplicate business and is running it behind another name.

          I did report the seller to Flippa but the response I received back was “We will put him on a watchlist”. Ok so what does that mean, we will give the seller another chance to rip one more person off before we decide to remove him?

          Anyways, hopefully this info will help someone not make the mistake I did.

  • http://Twonickle.com Twonickle

    If we use the confidential will it mask the Google index from the spiders. I dont like the idea of buying a site from Flippa and it always shows the domain in the Google search index as being bought off Flippa auction site.

    • Chris

      The URL is not shown on the listing, unless you’ve signed the NDA, so Google won’t ever see the URL of the website/domain that’s for sale.

    • http://flippa.com/ Andrew Knibbe

      Thanks Twonickle – all buyers have the option of removing the auction page from Flippa if required.

  • http://ralphlaurenhome.net mike1040

    I have mixed emotions about this, I don’t like the $100 price tag.
    I do see the need however for certain sites to sell privately. A more concerning aspect is that it also works for the bad guys.

  • Marc

    Flippa pricing has just gone up far to much for less results.

    For just a normal listing on Flippa now is $19 and really not many even visit the listing,maybe 50.

    I surpose this is a good idea but to charge $100 for it is just Greed. You are not trying to help others but only the sites pocket.
    Another grap for cash

  • http://www.GenericDomainMarket.com Generic Domain Market

    This might really work well for some Domain Sellers too. BTW, is it available for Domain Listings?

    • http://flippa.com/ Andrew Knibbe

      It is indeed.

  • http://flippingethics.com Chris

    Seriously, the more I read through this and understand it the more it seems like a “bribe” option… Pay $100 and we will protect you from being called out as a scammer. Since this confidentiality is $100 and will greatly reduce exposure… What information IS available before someone signs the NDA? I mean, a potential buyer must have interest in the site before signing an NDA so how do they get this? The url is encrypted buy anyone can still visit the site? Or do you need to sign the NDA to have any idea what the site is whatsoever…? So a listing is like this?

    “GREAT SITE, MAKES $10,000/MTH”
    This is a great site and it makes $10,000 per month on autopilot. To learn what site this is and anything else about it sign and return our NDA.

    ???

    Or can the site be visited through an encrypted URL in which case WHOIS, Wayback, etc can still be done by anyone — just not right on Flippa?

    I am having trouble processing this… I know other sites where they give information only and you need to sign an NDA to learn more. However I believe those are ALL personally involved brokers who help potential buyers verify claims, etc.

  • http://flippa.com/ Andrew Knibbe

    Thanks Chris – hopefully my comments above and the addition of the screenshot address some of your concerns. As per usual, seller’s forfeit their listing when they have not been sufficiently clear on their revenue claims (and forfeit their account when found to be actively misrepresenting these claims).

  • Vincent

    If I place a confidential listing and it turns out only one or two people are eager to sign the NDA, will you compensate the listing with a free public one?

    • Dave Slutzkin

      Vincent,

      No. A confidential listing should be used only in the situation where you don’t want the details of the site being made public, so anyone who uses a confidential listing would have no use for a public listing.

  • Mike

    Haha, all these people selling auto blogs complaining about the $100. Lol

  • Domainer

    Andrew, Excellent idea. I am also going to charge $100 to get any informartion.
    If you don’t get it, well, you simply don’t get it and consequently will not be bothering me for financials and other time wasting info when you are not a buyer.
    Time to separate the men from the boys. Good work.

  • http://www.reflectelectriccigarette.com Electric Cigarette

    Surely a great post describing ways in going and selling quality websites, really well done keep up the efforts…..

  • Alan Smith

    This is a good idea but it should be extra or everyone will start selecting it even if it is a new website.

  • Justin

    Great idea, but Flippa needs to do more to ensure the websites that people are buying aren’t simple clones or duplicates. I’ve counted 4 cases of the last two days.

    I’m not too sure how to fix this but that’s what you guys are paid for.

  • http://flippingethics.com Chris

    Can you provide a link to a confidential listing so we can see one live?

  • http://flippingethics.com Chris

    Ok, yes, I found one and cannot imagine how this does anything but put the buyer at great risk. For one, the way it is setup it gives the URL. For example, this one:

    https://flippa.com/auctions/125923/BuxPTC-site-75000-Members-Established-Site-with-Stable-Profit

    Is clearly for {snip: domain suppressed} (no, I have not read or signed any NDA). Anyone with experience can find this out and since all data is still available.

    But a NOVICE may not be able to see without some help that this guy also has:
    fflinx.com
    mapleclix.com
    newbuxhosts.com
    cashverts.com
    leafbux.com

    and literally DOZENS others… This is important information to consider when buying a website. A novice buyer may not know how to tell if any shown revenue is from just one or all of these sites. A novice may not know to get a non-compete or how to enforce it…

    So if the seller’s site is still obvious to someone who knows what to look for and if they buyer has even more risk because they cannot disclose anything, what/who is this helping?

    I understand the point and the rare case it might be useful to the legitimate seller — heck, I cannot sell on Flippa because all the scammers I have outed attempt revenge — but this just doesn’t seem right in some way. Know what I am saying?

  • http://flippingethics.com Chris

    Buy the way, there is also a very simple bug that allows you to see the domain. Go to:

    https://flippa.com/auctions/125923/due-diligence

    And click the link “See more info on the provider at WIHT” at the bottom. Couldn’t be more direct than that. But perhaps I am missing the point?

    • http://flippa.com/ Andrew Knibbe

      Thanks Chris – that was a loophole unique to the listing. It has since been closed …

  • http://blog.voxsapiens.com/ Rob

    Wouldn’t it be better to include a range for Alexa rank rather than absolute position? There’s always a chance that somebody will find out the name via the exact rank number – e.g. via http://km.cnmee.com/ – can’t say I know enough about alexa to know how synchronized the numbers will be.

    • Dave Slutzkin

      Rob,

      Yep. We don’t think it’s really possible to go from one to the other easily, but we’ve got a change in the works making these numbers a little more approximate. Thanks!

  • James

    I have to say that I am a bit put back by the price tag of this as well and would wonder what you consider to be a high price tag for a site. I feel mine is in the $2,500 to $3,000 range and having a $100 off the top is a bit excessive when you already take a pretty good percentage for the sale. Is it possible to to have this price refunded upon a successful sale which would make the thought of using the service a bit more acceptable to the middle priced sites? Just a thought to maybe spark some discussion on the subject.

    James
    not mentioning my site due to confidentiality

  • Pingback: Website Sells for $300K Using Confidential Listing | Flippa Blog | Buy & Sell Websites()

  • http://www.nametalent.com Mike

    This is a great idea. I don’t mind the pricing, it makes sense. Keep up the good work.

  • http://flippingethics.com Chris

    Ok, I ran my first Confidential Listing and thus far have been very disappointed. I did not have a single approval-worthy application; hardly worth the $100 upgrade charge. However I will try again.

    A couple things I think must be included when paying $100 for an upgrade are:

    1 – Automated Buyer Limits
    The seller can simply select criteria by which to auto-reject or auto-approve.

    Minimum Trust Rating to Allow: [dropdown from “Any” to 15 or so]

    Minimum # of Positive Feedback to Allow: [dropdown from “Any” to 15 or so]

    Maximum # of Negative Feedback to Allow: [dropdown from “Any” to 4 or so]

    Auto Approve at: [dropdown from “Any” to 15 or so]

    Required Buyer Country: [a multi-select box with “Any” and then a list of countries]

    Required Account Age: [from “Any” to selecting dropdown months, days, years]

    2 – The ability to provide auto instructions when a buyer fills the NDA. So, once a seller fills the NDA he gets a message in discussion with the seller’s first instructions. For example:

    “Thanks for signing my NDA. Before I release the URL I would like to know what your budget is for a new website and how many websites you currently operate?”

    Thanks Flippa. Hopefully my relisting works better. It was both discouraging and a waste of time and money to not have any qualified (to my standards) NDA applicants on my listing. However much of the wasted time could have been avoided by having the above in place.

  • http://www.putcash.com Darlington

    I think this is a good idea, since not all sellers will like there site to be published for sell openly, I have a plan to sell my domain name (www.putcash.com) soon on flippa, i will have to use the methods that are suitable for me as i have different options now, Thanks to you flippa, for your wonderful innovations

  • Jason

    How is having someone signing an ELECTRONIC non compete agreement going to stop them from copying the site I am selling to someone else and making a clone of it AFTER the sale is done?

    • http://flippa.com/ Andrew Knibbe

      Hi Jason – the non compete agreement should form part of the sales contract. You can do this via physical or electronic means – your call.

      Note that this post relates to confidential listings and the default non-disclosure agreement involved is not intended to act as a general non-compete clause …

      Let me know if that does not answer your question.

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