Everybody going to start using old domains should also know how to get them, I'm going to post soon article about it on seomoz as there are several ways starting from online rankings and lists up to dedicated seo tools that you can run on your computer and get precise and actual data on demand for any domains lists. Anybody intersting in such tools please visit our website: http://en.exdomain.eu/
Here's an old post on search engine roundtable that claims google's policy is to discount previous backlink juice when a domain changes ownership.  I'm not convinced whether this is actually true or something Google says to discourage excessive domain buying / 301 redirecting for SEO benefit.  The comments above seem to give varying opinions on this matter. Would be great to get to the bottom of that one!
I wish I could tell you that expired domains are some sort of magic bullet solution to all your traffic problems and headaches. Unfortunately, if I were to say that to you, I would be lying. There are drawbacks. Just like with anything else in life, there are advantages and disadvantages. The problems with expired domains is that they are often hard to find on your own. You can take wild guesses and waste a lot of time, effort and energy, and end up with nothing. Also, if you were to try to scope out drop domains by trying to find them in the most common way, which is to use a drop domain exchange, expect to pay a lot of money. Why? Because of heavy competition. Keep in mind that you’re not the only person who knows that dropped domains can bring a lot of traffic to the table. There are many other online marketers out there that realize drop domains' traffic value.
Answer: Yes. For a vast majority of domain names that expire (greater than 99%+), the rules and processes listed above are valid. However, there appear to be exceptions to these rules. For example, registrars “warehouse” or take for their own domain name portfolios some domain names, and other domain names a renewed even past their expired or redemption periods. In addition, there is at least one registrar that does not have an auction partner, allowing expired domain names to simply drop and be available for hand register.

If you bid at NameJet *after* the domain name moves to Pending Delete status, then it’s too late for NameJet to take advantage of their relationship with eNom and take control of the name. So then eNom thinks, “no interest from NameJet users; we’ll just drop it” and it goes through the regular deletion process — where the fastest fingers can register it. In some cases, investors don’t want to pay the $59 or $69 fee at NameJet and if there are no bids they can likely get it for $18.99 at Pheenix or using other dropcatching services.
If you buy keyword specific domains, you're really buying the type in traffic.  I use the URL builder and redirect through that URL so you can see how much traffic your getting from the keyword domain.  There seems to be no rythme or reason to what keyword domains deliver traffic and what don't.  By tracking traffic with the Google URL builder you get a feel for what names are giving you traffic and which are not. ie. the plural, the singular, two words, three words, the possessive, etc.
Answer: Yes. For a vast majority of domain names that expire (greater than 99%+), the rules and processes listed above are valid. However, there appear to be exceptions to these rules. For example, registrars “warehouse” or take for their own domain name portfolios some domain names, and other domain names a renewed even past their expired or redemption periods. In addition, there is at least one registrar that does not have an auction partner, allowing expired domain names to simply drop and be available for hand register.
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