I'm working on a small start-up company and need a good domain name for it, but as expected all domain names and reasonable variables have been taken years ago. Most of the addresses are empty, or have just simple placeholders, leading me to believe that they're available for sale.
My question is, how do I contact the seller (whois information is of some generic company, likely a squatter), how do I avoid paying through the nose for it, and how do I avoid being scammed? Should I use some 3rd party service to make the deal? I'm willing to pay some hundreds of dollars for it, but obviously I'd rather use the money on developing the site.