Today, the story is different. Domain name registrars realized that they could auction expired domain names to the highest bidder and generate additional revenue. If no one wanted the domain names in an auction, the domains would then drop and become available for anyone to register. Much of the time, however, domain names are successfully auctioned.
Thanks, Michael. I cannot find the auction site house of this registrar. It IS up for auction, but it’s NOT fully expired nor dropped – so it appears as though using an automated domain name backorder service may not be the best course of action. The URL still renews every year and is not set to expire until June 2016. The registrar is DOMREG LTD and seems to be tied in to Any suggestions? I just need to ensure my $ is going to the actual entity that’ll grant me the URL. I’m unclear how to avoid paying $ for the URL to a company/service that can’t actually do anything for me (i.e., getting ripped off). Thanks for any direction you can offer.
I registered for backordering with GoDaddy last year, as i saw goddady was the registar of the domain i wanted. However when the deadline for renewal came, i got a message the expiration date had changed to expire… well, a year later, i.e. now in 4 days. How can the expiration date be postponed? Was that the registrant renewed? does that mean the domain never becomes available and never goes to auction?

If your domain name was in fact stolen from you, please go file a police report as soon as possible. If, instead, you allowed your domain name to expire through carelessness or ignorance, then you’ve learned a valuable lesson: domains have value. I’m not saying this to be a jerk, I’m saying this because words matter and saying something was “stolen” when in fact it was allowed to expire is not truth. I’m happy to share my knowledge as clearly as possible for others to benefit from, and all I ask is that others do the same.
Finally, if you were to manually check for drop domains, you have to jump through many hoops. It's a very labor intensive and often confusing process. When you see that a domain name is available, you shouldn’t just stop there. You should also pay attention to how many backlinks it had, how niche-specific the domain is, what kind of websites link to it, did it get signals from social media, and other indicators of quality. If you were to try to look for drop domains manually, it can be a very, very intimidating process. Thankfully, there is an easier solution.
If the domain name is not with any auction house partner (I think that’s what you’re saying), then you can use a drop catch service anytime: They do not make your order public information as NameJet and others do by sharing how many bids are placed on a domain name and thereby driving interest.

Here's a test I have in process.  I bought an old $5 closeout domain from Godaddy TDname expired auction.  I put a quick minisite up and linked to it with a crazy anchor text phrase.  The domain is ranking for that crazy term now.  It's gone through one pagerank update and I'm waiting for a second to come.  Then I'll redirect the domain to another minisite.  I suspect the second site won't rank for the anhor text, but we'll see.  
We do not only have Expired Domains, but you can also find lists of Deleted Domains for a lot of TLDs. Deleted Domains or Dropped Domains are available for registration and can be picked up for just the normal regfee at your preferred domain registrar! All Domains have the typical SEO relevant data, like Number of Backlinks, Birth Date and a lot more.