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Change Is In the Wind: Flippa Rules Update Notification

Anyone looking to buy a website or sell a website on Flippa may have noticed a few recent changes to our site rules.

We thought it might be best to do a notification of these changes on the off chance that a seller somewhere might agree to abide to these rules without reading them (yes, we know this NEVER happens!).

Dual Listings

Since Flippa’s inception, we’ve required any website or domain for sale on Flippa to be an exclusive listing.

The reason for this is that if a website is being auctioned in more than one marketplace (do others exist?!), the winning bidder in one marketplace will not win the site.  Because of our dual listing rules, bidders on websites for sale on Flippa can be confident that once an auction has passed reserve, the highest will secure ownership of the website.

So what is the rule change?

While dual listings are clearly not workable for auctions, it can be done for private listings as the seller is simply receiving offers from prospective buyers. Website buyers never know what other prices are being offered and as a result there is no transparent competition between buyers.

While our sales stats indicate that a website is three times more likely to sell at an auction than at a private sale, these private sales can arguably be listed in multiple locations without upsetting any price mechanism. In recognition of this, we’ve limited our dual listing rules to apply to website/domain auctions only.

Potential Revenue Claims and Guarantees

Our recent blog post on the value of potential revenue drew a range of passionate responses.

For all the debate, there was little, if any, defense of the practice of putting seemingly firm figures on potential revenue or traffic. While Flippa has always required sellers to provide workings for potential revenue or traffic, we’ve updated the Flippa Site Rules to make this more explicit and reduce any risk for buyers. Note that simply multiplying Google’s search volume for a keyword by Google’s PPC price for that keyword is obviously NOT sufficient. We’ve also added that claims to specific potential revenue or traffic numbers are expressly forbidden in listing titles.

There was furthermore no active defense of buyer guarantees. In addition to this, buyer guarantees are both legally complex and ultimately not enforceable. In the interests of buyer safety, buyer guarantees are no longer allowed on Flippa.

Depending on the significance of the violation, listings that we find to breach rules will be suspended or otherwise corrected by our support team without notice. Eg a title of “Website with potential to earn $10,000 per month with #1 keyword in google guaranteed” will end up as “Website”).

Why Change?

 

Most readers will not be directly impacted by these changes: private sales are only a fraction of websites sold on Flippa and most sellers are already doing a great job of avoiding blatant potential revenue/traffic puffery. We like to think that these changes will indirectly enhance the Flippa experience for everyone as a result of more flexible listing options for website sellers and a dependable purchase environment for website buyers.

While we have no immediate plans to back out these changes, we’d love to hear your views. Will the relaxed dual listing policy result in more private sales? Will tighter potential revenue rules result in fewer websites for sale? Let us know in the comments below.

Image: tibchris

  • http://www.freeyoutubetomp3converter.org/ Matt

    I agree with the dual listing rule. I agree with that one 100%

    • http://www.hartanahmaya.com hartanah maya

      what if I had my website listed on eBay or any other marketplace, then all those auction has ended unsold.
      Can I have my website listed on flippa?
      Means, by the time I try to make my website auction of flippa, there are no live auction on other marketplace as they are all ended unsold.
      Are this allowed?

      • Dave Slutzkin

        Hartanah,

        That’s correct. You can’t auction a site on Flippa while there are active sales on other marketplaces, but if it’s closed on other marketplaces then please create your listing!

  • http://Finally! omar

    Thank you for putting to an end to all those $10,000 per month potential/est/guaranteed..etc.

    • http://www.warmarks.com Warren

      Amen!

    • justMoe

      I see those titles and run (away). It’s such a crock. Hell, everyone has the “potential” to be the CEO of Ford, but the chances of that happening are near zero.

      BTW…”IwantToBeCEO.com for sale with the potential to be the CEO of any company you choose with 100% gurantee you’ll have access to corporate jet if you click the BIN”

      • http://www.leading-webpromotion.com Boris C.

        Nicely said justMoe 🙂

  • Tony

    Re: Potential Revenue Claims and Guarantees

    This is an great change for both buyers and sellers.

    Websites with potential earnings and rankings were selling like hotcakes most likely to buyers new to owning their own website. You guys have really stepped up to the plate and created a change to protect buyers from false claims.

    I am certain that this change will also help many honest sellers who have watched in disbelief as the sites with “$5,000 month potential” sell time and time again. I was also shocked to see that so many people bought these sites so quickly.

    Those “$5,000 month potential” were telling new buyers exactly what they wanted to hear, such as, “It is possible for you to make $5,000 per month with my brand new site and you don’t even have to work at it because everything is on autopilot!”

    When I saw the number of people jumping on the sites with income guarantees I simply could not believe it. Once again the unscrupulous sellers profited by telling some buyers what they wanted to hear.

    Thanks for these changes.

  • http://www.bosspedals.net Brad

    I agree with everything in this listing 100%. I am sick of false claims and guarantees. Proof of actual traffic and earnings is what I want in a listing.

  • http://bestabsroutines.com/ Chris

    I was hoping to set up a website to promote web sites I’d like to sell. I wonder if it would be ok to list your sites up for auction on your own site but redirect any inquiries or offers back to Flippa?

  • http://topkindlebooks.com Jun Valasek

    I commend the admins of putting-up these changes. Now the people who want to take buyers for granted by setting up crappy sites yesterday and selling it tomorrow will be blocked.

  • http://www.websitepromotioncentral.com Alex

    I totally agree with you Andrew, especially the traffic or website potential in the title, is the most misleading part in the listing.

  • mel

    This is good news .. thank you for looking out for us new folks. Now if y’all can fix your clock restarting problem as I have mentioned before and am Still waiting for the final outcome of my bid that you were supposedly checking on .. I won the bid .. paid Your fees and did NOT get the site that I won .. how long does it take to find your problem .. it’s been about 3 weeks now? at least refund my fee’s that I paid to y’all for the site which I am still waiting to receive.
    Thanks for stepping up thus far and fixing some issues.
    Flippa is awesome and can be the Best : )

    • http://flippa.com/ Andrew Knibbe

      Hi Mel – please raise it with our support team at https://flippa.com/contact if you have not already done so (we could not find the email address you used for this comment in our systems).

  • http://www.31cosas.com Carlos

    Nice to see you are doing something to protect buyers, and also the honest sellers, I got ripped off by one of the “$100 per day autoblogs”, I was new to flippa and I thought if they haven’t banned him then it’s legit. You should also banned those sellers using fake adsense videos

  • http://www.mypoutylips.com Angelicka

    I am interested in selling my website on your platform. However i think it would help a lot if you could provide tools for the VALUATION of the sites. I did a lot of research as to how much I could sell it but it’s hard to find something serious and reliable.

    • http://experienced-people.net/forums/forum.php Clinton

      You obviously haven’t looked hard enough 😉

  • http://www.tradingwebsitesblog.com Danny Batelic

    Great initiative Andrew!

  • http://www.stoltingmediagroup.com Arnold Stolting

    What about “Website with HUGE POTENTIAL to earn LOTS OF MONEY per month” Or similar ridiculous but yet non specific claim? Would that be removed? I think somehow people will find ways around any rules put in place. They always do.

    • http://flippa.com/ Andrew Knibbe

      Thanks Arnold – Our chief concern was that buyers may not be able to distinguish between actual and potential revenue claims in a number of instances. We’re not expecting general claims to “huge potential” to be as problematic.

  • http://thenewslist.com Jason

    These are welcome changes.

    Now to enforce the publication of proper traffic stats (i.e. vetted Google Analytics) as opposed to highly subjective AWStats reports.

  • Beach

    I think that the changes will lose flippa some money because it seems like tons of these sites were selling everyday but maybe its not worth the hassle for them.

  • http://OrderYourName.com Christ Parks

    I agree about the dual listings 100%. Nice improvement, I’m glad you’re doing more to protect the buyers…

    Now, if you actually did something to reduce message spam and let sellers have more control over their comments (to allow comments or disallow comments or allow comments with moderation features) that would be a huge improvement.

    I also understand the policies about citing “income potential” etc. etc. etc. But come on! “POTENTIAL” — that doesn’t mean “guaranteed”, it means “potential” for Christ’s sake.

    Flippa buyers aren’t 4 year-olds with a limited vocabularies…. but you’re treating them like such. Potential means potential. Nothing more. If a site has a unique potential, then sellers should be able to say as such.

    So now why not do a few improvements for sellers to protect them against malicious users?? Better comment moderation would be a start.

  • http://africanmovies.us african movies

    Taking out the buyer guarantee is really a good thing. Search rankings change and stuff happens so there is no way to guarantee you will make X amount of money per month/year etc.

    Keep up the good work

  • http://webdirectoryforsale.com mudassar

    Most of the times i have noticed that few listings have the title “Earn XXX amount per Month” but once i opened the listings there was no revenue claim. Actually such listings are mentioning the revenue in the title as a future potential that seems to be little deceptive for buyers… There a good move to not display revenue in the title.

    Flippa Keep good work up !

  • http://www.seofastguide.com Srini

    Flippa is establishing the trust from both buyers/sellers providing high quality services. Great for sellers and easy for buyers as well. Best Wishes

  • http://www.startnonprofitorganization.com/ NPO

    A great step to arrest scammers from getting away with tall claims.

  • Mike

    Not entirely clear about the intentions:

    Is there an error in the post? Having argued fervently why dual listings were OK for private sale not for auctions the article concludes “dual listing rules to apply to website/domain auctions only” appearing to contradict the rest of the post.

    It would help giving examples. I am not sure what buyer guarantees were being given?

    Finally is the ban a ban on actual earnings in a title or only potential earnings?

    • Dave Slutzkin

      Mike,

      Sorry it wasn’t clear.

      The “dual listing rules” are those that forbid dual listings. These now apply only to auctions, so it’s only forbidden to dual list if your Flippa listing is an auction.

      Buyer guarantees were when a seller said, for example, “guaranteed number one ranking within a month”. These are no longer allowed.

      Lastly, if you have actual earnings and you’ve provided proof of that, you’re allowed to use them in the title, but potential revenue is disallowed.

      Please let us know if that’s still unclear.

  • http://www.nichewebsiteformula.net niche website formula

    It is about time that those potential income auctions were taken down. Most are just a scam or a way to deceive naive buyers. It devalues your brand to have sellers like that, so this is a very good move. It also helps the genuine sellers make more sales, as they no longer need to compete against dubious sellers.

  • Shawn

    Nice changes and they are welcomed but you guys forgot one more big issue and its regarding NON PAYING BIDDERS. i am a reputed seller here and each month there are approx 2-3 fake bidders who wins the site but don’t pay. when we raise the dispute on flippa sale completion page, some times they pay but not always.
    flippa admins/mods are supportive that they relist the auction without any charges BUT i have seen there is no action taken against those bidders who didn’t paid even after winning. they do nothing but spoil 3 days lockin period which flippa requires to raise a dispute and then again 3 days to wait for their reply making this whole process a 6 day waiting period for seller when he is at no fault. now i suggest these changes in the well being of sellers
    1. fake bidders should be banned on flippa, atleast when they repeat the same thing second time.
    2. non paying bidders should not be allowed to submit feedbacks. usually such auction winners provide -ve feedbacks.
    3. waiting period to raise a non paying dispute should be reduced to 1-2 days as against 3 days and same with the period needed to hear back from auction winner. 6 days is too much.
    Shawn

  • http://salewebsites.net/ sale websites

    I think, Flippa must survey and correct revenue screenshot. I see, many seller Attach fake revenue screenshot.

    • Fez Miester

      That’s interesting point, How often have you seen that when you were looking at a site for sale? how did you catch that the screen shot was a fake? – I have the basic question: you see a site making 15$ a month for sale at 5-7% ROI 100$ lets say about and you should suspect these are the types that get built and sold for ‘logical’ fools lol to believe ;z)

  • http://www.everythingpet.com.au Matty

    thanks for that. i was a victim of a shonky deal with well fabricated revenue stats. hopefully this will help reduce the problem.

  • Ziah

    I see these changes as very positive ones. I’m glad to see the guarantee thing go. I just could not believe how many people were using this as a selling point. I watched a lot of autoblogs get sold with a guarantee and just shook my head. You can never guarantee what earnings a buyer will make when buying a website. That is going to be completely up to them and what they do with the website.

  • Scott

    I am glad that Flippa has taken this step to reduce the amount of Potential Revenue sites, it was starting to get abit like DP here.

    I also think it would be great for Flippa to implement there own escrow system.

    I would certainly be willing to pay the additional % or fee to deal with a transaction in 1 place rather then selling / buying here and completing the transfer offsite.

    you could accept payment via bank transfer or paypal and to stop a reversal from paypal you can have people pay via the mass pay option with account funds only, and complete / sign a form and return which would be sufficant evidence for paypal.

    Just a thought 😉

  • http://mister-coffee.com Alessandro Zamboni

    Hi, the new rules are very very good this time!
    I never appreciated dual listings as well as fake bold claims about possible earnings.

    My question is: If one has certified earnings, they can be put on listing title or this thing needs to be avoided?

    Thanks a lot and see you soon,
    Alessandro Zamboni

    • Shawn

      if the earnings are genuine and site is already earning then seller can write it, its only for assumed earnings like earn 5k from this site and bla bla which are not allowed.
      Shawn

  • http://ellingsenpersonalguidance.com Rune Ellingsen

    I got scammed for 997 dollars by a seller on Flippa BEFORE the rules chenged. Adrian Lazo was his name.
    Not a thing in the world except maybe physical damage towards the seller would be appreciated now after Flippa can not be responsible. However This was before the rules. Anyone going trough a change like this and invests a lot of money for a website in order to it to be an “finincial anchor” whilst learning IM the REAL way is in for a suprise. Like I was. Now I am doing my thing and I see results more and more. Starting to educate one’s self in IM is a big task and can be overwhelming at many stages. Buying a “cash cow” to be the anchor or pillar in your online business needs to be evaluated thurrowly. I thought I was safe with 100% positive feedback and a lot of messages bcak and forth with positive markings. This was on earlier auctions he had. They gave him credibility enough for Flippa back then. (2-3 months ago.) I hope for everybody’s sake that the guidelines have been changed ENOUGH this time so that no one can manipulate the system and harness thousands of dollars from people like myself. Quality check from Flippa itself?
    In my opinion. Obligatory.

  • http://www.thearticlesbase.com Free Article Directory

    I agree with the new rules of flippa, this will go in the favour of buyers.

  • http://www.BuyBringTheFresh.com Michael

    Great new rules. These benefit the buyer and therefore benefit the seller as well.

    One question, although this may not be the proper venue.

    Is it OK to list a site as #1 (obviously staying there is impossible to guarantee) if it is in fact #1?

    • http://flippa.com/ Andrew Knibbe

      Hi Michael.
      No problem claiming that your site is number one for a given keyword if this is true (ensure it is not specific to you as a result of Google’s personalized search though!)

  • http://honcabinets.com Terry

    Great timing in changing the rules many people took the bait here on buying websites with lots of potential for a new website with no revenue or traffic , with a hope and a dream

  • http://www.buyagig.com nick savage

    I see that you are helping the buyer out, but why not help the sellers out. Most buyers don’t buy when the auction is over on high priced ticket items and the project has to go up three to four times.
    Why can you not require a deposit of say ten percent with all bids over a hundred dollars. That should take care of the high ticket items.

    We need help guys and flippa is doing nothing to this right now.

  • Chuck

    What about web sellers who are selling 40 or more of basically the same web design with just different domain names.Is that allowed?

    • http://www.goodads.co.uk paw42uk

      I couldn’t agree more.
      I do not think selling clones is wrong, however it is certainly morally wrong when people deliberately misslead potential purchasers by hiding the fact that they are repeatedly selling the same website.
      It also gives Flippa a very bad feel for newcomers because they expect a certain level of service, guidance and protection from Flippa. Afterall that is why they use Flippa in the first place.
      I hope Flippa can tackle this growing problem before the site is saturated by clone sellers.

      • http://flippa.com/ Andrew Knibbe

        Hi Chuck/paw42uk.
        Requesting the seller to flag a site as being a clone puts a lot of power in the party with a vested interest and expect it may lull buyers into a false sense of security. This also does not work if site is a clone of an unaffiliated site.

        Instead, we feel there are great tools on Flippa for buyers to ensure they’re in control. This includes:
        – Design/Content uniqueness flags (+ Copyscape checks)
        – Sales Contract (to specify if ownership if IP is transferred to buyer or if seller is simply granting use of shared IP)
        – Ability to check other sites sold by the seller

        Sounds like we may have a topic for another blog post if buyers are not aware of this though …. 😉

  • Adam

    – website buyer guarantees are no longer allowed

    What does this one actually mean?

    • Fez Miester

      you — got me. good Q

  • http://flippingethics.com Chris

    I really like these changes. It seems more than ever that Flippa is working hard to help novices who don’t have the experience not to get burned.

    As to the people who have questioned if a seller should be able to post about any potential — of course they should. What should a listing say… New site, potential unknown, good luck?

    Again, I differ from many but I believe potential is one of the most important factors in a website and when truly enormous websites are purchased it is always about potential. For example some multi-million even billion dollar purchases have been made of websites that had never turned in anything but a LOSS. It is about the POTENTIAL.

    However, it is more the potential the sees/creates than what the seller claims. But if someone feels they have built the site that with a bit of solid planning and hard work has the potential to be a big money maker they should be able to claim that.

    The problems with it in the title is that it became very difficult for newbies to discern which sites were just claiming potential and which were claiming revenue.

    The guarantees are junk and I am glad they are gone. A guarantee is only as good as the person/entity backing it — just try and cash-in on one of those guarantees.

    A feature I think would be really useful to protect buyers and sellers is a clear listing of the country of the buyer/seller. Putting a little country flag icon next to the seller’s name on a listing and next to the buyer’s name on a comment/bid (with on-hover showing country name) could help a bit. Let’s face it. To a small degree there is more safety in a transaction with someone within you own country.

    Also, a “VERIFIED” option. Where an ID on Flippa can pay a small fee, say $5 and have their address verified. Simply send them a piece of mail with a code and when they enter the code you know they got the mail and their address is verified. This will build buyer/seller confidence. It could also be done with CC (ala PayPal) but I think mail w/ a fee for the admin work is better.

    Lastly I think a 3 month short follow-up survey to buyers with scores shown in seller accounts (feedback) would be helpful.

    Answer the following TRUE, FALSE, or DOES NOT APPLY: (any answered “FALSE” causes a text box with “EXPLAIN:”)

    THE SELLER DELIVERED THE WEBSITE IN A TIMELY MANNER:

    THE WEBSITE WAS ACCURATELY DESCRIBED IN THE LISTING:

    THE SITE HAS EARNED INCOME CONSISTENT WITH WHAT WAS REPRESENTED IN THE LISTING:

    I WOULD BUY FROM THIS SELLER AGAIN IN THE FUTURE:

    I think a tool like this, again 3-months following sale, would be useful for better DD. Much like eBay’s newish rating system.

    • http://www.rupeeauction.in Vikz

      Excellent suggestions Chris.

    • Fez Miester

      simply Well Put Chris.

  • Per Potet

    Hopefully this will put an end to all the scam auctions put up by the user ThriftyFox.

  • http://chiropractor.intorontoarea.com/ Gerry Irwin

    Hey,

    Thanks for the update. Too bad there wasn’t some way of controlling the unscrupulous sellers who sell sights that either they never deliver or they just implode after a week or two.

  • http://topkindlebooks.com Jun Valasek
  • http://topkindlebooks.com Jun Valasek

    Why potential is BS/

    Example, a seller creates a blog with domain weighloss123456.com. He then claims that the keyword “weightloss” has a great potential (which is true) and that the site has a great potential too with the buyer not knowing it will take him thousands of dollars in SEO work to put his site on top of google with such keyword with solid rock competition. Sellers are misleading people with that “potential” thing…

  • http://www.googlefax.org google fax

    Andrew,

    This is welcome news, as usual. I admire you guys for taking the high road with regard to the low-end website market. We are seeing a similar “raising-of-the-bar” with ClickBank right now as well.

    The internet is ours to take care of. If we do not set the standard now, it will be difficult to play catch up in the future.

    One other thing you might look at is tying the IP of the seller to their profile. Seems people can create a garbage site, sell off 10 copies of it, cancel their Flippa account and then open a new one.

  • http://www.greenteaextracts.net/ ilgust

    Great news! No more ‘$10000/month on autopilot guaranteed’ Thanks a lot!

  • http://www.VitalyMakarkin.com/ Vitaly Makarkin

    Sound like a great changes of rules. Will see what it’ll give for us.

  • http://KimberlyInman.com Kimberly Inman

    Good news all the way around.

  • http://www.affiliateprofitriches.com/ Affiliate Marketer

    That’s a good news!
    With all those listings, it can be hard to weed out the real deal.
    Totally support the change in rules.
    Keep up the good work!!!!

  • David

    I think this is a positive move but an addition to this would be to remove zero revenue sites from the normal listings. Add a category for zero revenue websites.

    I also think the suggestion for flippa to have an escrow type service would help as escrow is very difficult to use in europe.

    I would also like to see any improvements in verifying where the traffic is coming from. I was caught out in the early days with not checking the source of traffic and even though the buyer explained in the listing they would show me how they generated traffic and sales they never completed as promised. 6k out of the window.
    My best suggestion would be that the seller uploads any supporting documents before the transaction and then the winning bidder would have access to the docs before the final sale goes through. If they decide the docs do not support the traffic declared they could remove the bid and the auction returns with a 4 hour listing and the second highest bidder becomes the top bidder.

    This would also work well with people not paying for sites they have won. I do not see the point of a site being relisted due to non-payment. I am now very wary of sites that are relisted as I think it is more of a case that the buyer has worked out not all is well with the listing and the buyer has pulled out of the sale.

    With this system then if multiple buyers pull out of the sale one after another then it would be more transparent to newbies that something is not right and the listing could be put into a red zone where flippa check what is wrong with the sellers site. It could then be relisted after this period if the seller fixes the issues the previous buyers reasons for pulling out the sale.

    At the end of the day buyers are the most important aspect to flippa’s continued success and whilst I understand flippa cannot stop con artists selling sites for inflated values then any steps to help buyers not drop serious sums of money are more than welcome. I am happy to pay someone a significant sum of money for a site that generates revenue but the problem today is that there are no guarantees and you could be buying something that does not make any money.
    If you can fix this which I know is not easy then I would be a regular buyer.

  • Josh

    This auction here seems to be guaranteeing $1,000/month income, with what they state in the listing. They basically say that if you don’t make $1k per month, they’ll give you a refund.

    Can you check it out and CLARIFY if what they state is allowed?

    https://flippa.com/126621-10-AUTOBLOGS—90-DAYS-FREE-SEO-WORK—3-DAY-AUCTION-NO-RESERVE

  • Pingback: More Stolen Domains sold at Flippa despite rules update | DomainGang()

  • http://www.goodads.co.uk paw42uk

    This is definately a step in the right direction, and proof that Flippa are aware they have problems and quite rightly are trying to improve things for all concerned.
    I would have liked to see sellers having to state if they are repeatedly selling the same site with different domain names, as I believe a lot of people are unaware they are buying clones.
    Still one step at a time is better than standing still.

  • http://e-datecentral.com/onlinedatingblog/ David

    One thing you Flippa guys should think about stopping is income claims for sites with no traffic. Nothing irritates like finding a seller making claims of hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a new site that has no traffic. I’m no math wiz but that’s a mathematical impossibility.

  • Fez Miester

    Hi everyone, Well that was a pretty strong agreement from the community ;z) Glad to hear that everyone wants to sell sites to smart, experienced, eyes wide open, customers! ~ really, & I just read it from the side of shopping for those couple hundred dollar sites making a couple bucks a month in revenue. It’s like portfolio building of the future. F;z (I hope & pray in my ignorance hah

    These rules and their ilk are going to make this a much more enjoyable experience Bravo!
    Chris? had that good idea about surveying buyers, and i’m surprised that 0 ‘post’ inquires/actions are taken right now?
    Ciao

  • Tony

    Re: Clone Sites

    I agree with Andrew that Flippa has good tools in place to assist buyers in determining if the sites are unique or not.

    Naturally, I don’t agree that sellers should claim that a site design is unique or that content is unique if that is not true. That is clearly unethical.

    We all want Flippa to continually improve for the benefit of itself, buyers, and sellers. With that said it is important that buyers use the tools readily available to them to perform their due diligence.

    I can’t tell you how many times potential buyers comment on listings asking questions that are clearly addressed in the listing itself. None of us want to see buyers get burned, but clearly those who do their homework are more likely to get what they expected. The exception, of course, is if you do your homework and are dealing with an unscrupulous seller.