+1 for those cautionary tales.
A number of years ago I wanted to buy this domain:
I waited... Foolish me... When I went back, it was gone and a Cafepress site was up selling the domain name as t-shirts and cups and crap.
However, after a year, the guy didn't renew it and it became available. Lucky me~! I bought it along with a few others.
A domain name costs between 2~3 cups of coffee or so at a local coffee shop. If in doubt, fall off your wallet and just buy it.
I have a bunch of domains that I want to do something with, but no time to do it.
These are some domains that I bought a few years ago for a project that I'd love to get to, but just never seem to be able to find time:
I've had people try to buy some with stupid bids like $100 or something. Really... WTH? Why would I sell for that? The absolute minimum that I'd sell a crappy domain for is most certainly more than $100. Otherwise it's not really worth the time to bother. Good domains... much more. It's not my core business, so it needs to be worth my while to distract me.
Squatters do this for a living. And they're very good at squeezing you for every penny they can. A lot of these guys have single word domains and have more money than you can shake a stick at. They don't care in the least about selling another domain for a few hundred or thousand because they can sell many of their domains for much, much more.
But domainers are even worse... They buy up millions of domains, then return them within the ICANN 4 (or 5) day return period, then buy them again. They lock up domains and just use them for ads. It's a dirty business, but it's legal. (Kind of like how being a lawyer is legal, but dirty.
I use GoDaddy, and they don't snap up domains that you search for. Other registrars do.
Hey -- what registrars were you guys using?