Selling an established site: Requiring a deposit? Meeting in person?
I have a couple sites I'm trying to sell for around 30k, and it's my first time selling a website for anywhere close to that. As you can imagine I'm mega-paranoid. Aside from the obvious domain transfers (which seems to be the only part of the process protected by escrow.com), the deal will involve transferfing a lot of content and spending hours setting up the sites to work on the new owner's server.
I've read that meeting in person is a great way to weed out scammers. I'm a very up front and honest person and generally prefer face to face time with people, even for small dealings. The problem is, if a potential buyer is in Europe and you're in the US, is it unrealistic? I don't mind the flight, but do people ever do that?
Of course if it is a scammer and you fly across the globe for nothing you'll lose some plane ticket money. There's also the chance that they'll return the domain after you've spent all of that time configuring the sites on the new machine. Is it realistic to require a deposit of $500 or $1000 before getting started?
Fortunately for me the content is virtually worthless IMO, so leaving a copy of it behind (aka having it stolen) isn't that big of a deal. It's really spending all the time (which is money) configuring as well as helping them switch ad publisher accounts over from mine to theirs.
For the record, I've spent all morning reading old sitepoint threads around the topic and there's definitely a ton of good stuff. I've certainly learned a lot.
If you look through my activity on SP you'll see that I've sold more than the odd site in the $20K - $50K bracket.
There's no reason to be paranoid. It's the buyer who's taking the risk. I've never bothered meeting with the buyer. In the last few weeks I've also bought sites totalling over $100K. Again, I never met with the other party. Of course, you're perfectly entitled to meet up if you want and no reasonable buyer should object. However, as that's not usually done it's unlikely he'll shell out for the fare or split it with you.
Deposits aren't normal either.
The fact that someone has agreed to escrow, has agreed to pay the escrow fees in full if you pull out (escrow.com terms), has (possibly) opened a hosting account for the site and has deposited $30K+ in the escrow account would be reassurance enough for me and I'd invest the time to configure the site.