I'm exasperated at website brokers. Today, for the umpteenth time, I've contacted a broker about a site that's been on their books for several months, filled in the NDA, did all the paperwork, jumped all the hoops .... and I wait for the financials only to told that the seller hasn't compiled them yet and is still working on them.
Why the hell are these brokers taking sites on when the seller isn't serious enough to even put together a sales brochure and some figures on traffic and earnings? I sometimes get the feeling they are more interested in having a lot of listings on their sites so they appear to be big and busy! When the seller does complete the doc and send it over, it's something that screams "I'm a complete novice". For sites in excess of a $100K asking price, all they've got is a one page summary of the "potential". Some have had no traffic or revenue figures at all! And documents like this are getting forwarded by the brokers! There is no vetting, no helping the first time seller put together a proper brochure, no advising him that revenue is kinda useful to include ... nothing. I actually lost my cool with one broker. I kept trying to get real data and he kept forwarding fluff from the seller about how much I could make with the site - very, very frustrating!
I won't name the broker, they might be a firm already on these boards ... or not. Most brokers seem to be like this. I'll admit I've had good experiences with one or two brokers but I won't name them here as other brokers may, by exclusion, be considered bad.
So how do you pick a good one?
If you're looking to sell a site and looking for a broker, here's a suggestion: Sign up as a buyer and see how they handle your enquiries. This may take a few days, but it's worth it. See how long they take to reply, how professional the document looks, whether all the main figures are provided right at the start or whether you have to go back and forth a million times. Try being awkward and see how they handle it. Tell them you don't have enough money and want to reach a seller financing deal and see if they even know what that is. Or ask their recommendations on how to complete the transaction safely and see what they suggest. Pretend to be someone who doesn't have a clue and probably doesn't have money either ... and see if they forward your details to the seller.
One potential deal I was pursuing a couple of months ago fell through. During the discussion the broker was very responsive. Anyway, a month after I pulled out, I dropped him a courtesy email to say that his client forgot to remove my Google Analytics access. There wasn't even the courtesy of a reply - I'm not important as a buyer anymore, so why bother. Considering I still have access to those GA stats he probably didn't even pass the message on to his client.
I'm not a big fan of regulation, but maybe someone should come up and regulate this lot. It's too easy to set up business as a "website broker".