Beware The Preparation Burden When Selling A Website

You've built up a pretty nice site and decided to sell it. Your first move should be to get it listed on relevant sites where buyers flock, right? Actually, such a move is a mistake. Why? You need to first prepare for the due diligence stage of the sales process.

Let's define the type of site sales we are talking about here. The focus of this article is substantive sites. I am fully aware that there are small sites that people build to flip for a quick profit. Most of these small sites require little in the way of due diligence other than proof you own the domain and have a right to use the content. The issues surrounding more substantive sites, unfortunately, are not as simple.

The purchase of a larger site is going to involve a period where the buyer conducts due diligence. The buyer will be checking to verify that the intellectual property rights surround the site are in order. This means everything from copyright to trademarks and even patents if relevant. As a seller, you must be able to provide this information and prove that you have a handle on the ownership of each and can transfer them to the buyer. For example, you will need to produce the website design agreement showing that the independent designer you hired transferred any and all copyrights to you. Without such an agreement, the buyer is going to balk since you will not have the right to transfer the design from a copyright perspective.

You are also going to need to produce the agreements on any contractual relationships related to the site. Part and parcel to this will be an investigation as to whether the contracts are assignable to a new site owner. You may be shocked to learn that many contracts included clauses prohibiting this from occurring. If so, the buyer is going to balk and the issue is going to need to be addressed with the contracting party.

As a seller, the key is to get all your ducks in order before you list a site for sale. If you do, you will then be able to get through the due diligence process with a minimum of fuss, get the site into the hands of the buyer and their money into your bank account. That is your goal after all.


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