If searching at registration price fails to produce a domain name that satisfies your needs then consider buying a name that is currently owned but that is being offered for sale. When buying a name that is currently owned the same rules for what makes one domain name more valuable than another still apply.
And, there are additional considerations that become prominent when buying from an owner.
(1) Perception of Value
Even paying an annual registration fee of about $10 to $20 is taking a risk that you can recover this cost buy developing the domain name into a valuable web site or that you can resell the name for more then you paid for it. Your perceived value of a domain name when you buy it is based on what you believe you can do with it. Since each person will have their own idea of what can done with a particular domain name there can be a wide range of perceived values for that one name.
(2) Listed / Reserve Prices and Setting Personal Rules for Buying
Don’t think that because a domain name is offered for sale at $2,000 that this price is a fair starting point. Judge each potential purchase by objective rules of value that you have selected and have chosen to follow.
A name becomes an auctioned or listed name because its owner has decided to sell it and that might be the only thing about the name that is special. Having a set of personal buying rules can help you avoid overpaying. They can also help you spot a domain name bargain.
(3) Where to Find Listed and Auctioned Domain Names
You can search for domain names being sold by their owners at GoDaddy,com, Sedo.com or SnapNames.com and there are many other places where you can buy a domain name from a listing or at an auction.
(4) Never Negotiate Directly with the Name Owner
When buying from another person there are no exceptions to the following two rules. Always negotiate anonymously and buy through an established domain dealer that can act as a third-party escrow specialist. Compared to registration prices the cost of buying a domain name from another party can be high.