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Be extremely cautious while communicating with the owner. Even if you casually agree to buy the domain via email, the communication might be used against you in court as a legally-binding contract should you change your mind. Until you’re absolutely certain that you want to make a deal, agree to buy the domain provided that all the terms are agreeable. This will leave you an escape hatch if things go south.
Check to see if you get any email accounts. Many web hosting companies don’t include email or charge extra for it. In many cases, you can only get email forwarding. Even for straightforward POP3 email, some companies only offer 1 or 2 email accounts. You should make sure you get at least 15-20 POP3 email accounts included free of charge with your domain.
You should also avoid words that have more than one spelling if your visitors are likely to be confused and mistype the name. Alternately, you can buy both versions of the name and direct visitors from the one you like less to the preferred name. While you do want a short name (see below), don’t go for something so cryptic that people have a hard time remembering it. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool and you want to make it easy for people to tell their friends about your site.