Michael Russer, a.k.a. Mr. Internet®, is CEO of Russer Communications. He is a leading speaker and author in the real estate industry and has been writing about Internet marketing and virtual outsourcing since the dawn of the commercial Internet.
Get a Great Domain Name
Looking for a memorable Web site address? Don't think for a moment that all the good ones are gone.
February 1, 2007
Think you missed out on the great “land grab” for real estate domain names? Think again. It’s been several years since the rush for memorable dot-com addresses, and now there are some real opportunities for those who need a catchy domain name to solidify their online presence.
Not to mention, great opportunities exist for those who were thinking ahead and stocked up on great domain names at the start of the Internet frenzy. Now could be the perfect time to sell.
Turnover Widens Pool of Names
Many businesspeople make the assumption that all the good domain names are gone, so they don’t even investigate whether their ideal address is available. After all, it’s been more than a decade since the Web began reshaping the real estate world. Any good Web site address would have been snapped up by now, right?
Fortunately, great real estate domain names are coming back into the pool of availability all the time. Keep in mind that hundreds of real estate practitioners drop out of the business ever year. Many of these people had purchased domain names they no longer need or use, so they are simply letting them expire.
Here are several ways you can tap into this supply to find your golden real estate Web address:
- Just check. Go to any domain name registrar (my favorite is GoDaddy.com) and type in your favorite choices to see if they’re available. You may be surprised to see what comes up. If your top choices are not available, don’t stop there. Registrars usually allow you to see who owns those domain names and when they’ll expire. If the expiration date is less than a year away, and a bit of further research reveals the owner is no longer in real estate (a quick Google search can give you an indication), then you have a chance of getting it as soon as it becomes available.
- Back order it. If you want to dramatically increase your chances of acquiring a soon-to-be-expiring domain, you can back order it. Many registrars give you the ability to back order a domain that is currently owned by someone else. For example, GoDaddy.com charges $18.95 to monitor the status of any domain name. When the domain name expires, it enters a grace period that can last anywhere from two weeks to one year, depending upon the registrar. The monitoring service will then attempt to register it in your name.
- Browse expired lists. Web sites such as JustDropped.com let you browse lists of domain names that are about to be put back into the available pool. It lets you search by keywords so you don’t have strain you eyes looking for anything that might be valuable to your business.
- Domain auctions. There are lots of domain name auction sites available, too many to list here. For example, GoDaddy.com has a Domain Name Aftermarket business that allows you to bid or make offers on existing domains. They are listed in categories. As of mid-January, it had over 25,000 domains available in the real estate category. You will find the prices all over the map with some as low as $5 and others more than $20,000. It’s worth checking out.
- Lease it. You don’t have to buy a domain name to benefit from its use. Domain leasing is based on the principle that many people simply type in the domain name for the type of product or service they’re interested in. Then, they’re redirected to your site, giving you extra traffic. For example, if you specialize in Hollywood real estate, you may find that hollywoodrealestate.com is available for lease (which it actually was until someone leased it). If you leased it, whenever prospects type in www.hollywoodrealestate.com, they would be sent to your site. You typically pay a fixed monthly fee based on the anticipated traffic. Think of this as a sophisticated form of pay-per-click, except that you pay a flat fee rather than a per-click cost. One domain leasing site that specializes in real estate domains, LeaseThis.com, also offers to wrap an appropriately designed branded version of the leased domain name location around your site. To see an example, go to www.hollywoodrealestate.com at the top you’ll see the branded domain name being leased, underneath is the site of the company that leased it. Leasing is smart for several reasons. Since you don’t own the name, this approach creates a clear separation between your brand and that of the domain name. So when you’re ready to terminate your lease, it doesn’t affect the branding of your own site. (Tip: Never brand your site using a leased domain name, but always with one you own.) Also, you can use it as a listing tool; Imagine going on a listing appointment for a property in Hollywood and having the prospective seller type in “www.hollywoodrealestate.com” and see your site come up this way. Their perception is likely that you “own” that space.
Have a Domain to Sell?
If you’re one of the many people who went a little overboard during the domain-name purchase frenzy days, don’t worry. There are several ways to turn your hoard of domains into a monthly cash cow.
Some people have a few dozen domain names sitting idle, while others purchased literally hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of domain names. Here’s what you can do to turn dormant domains into cash:
Jump on the Opportunity
No more complaining that all the good domain names are gone. Huge possibilities are in front of you, whether you are looking for a memorable Web site address or have a few too many unused domain names. Every day you wait is costing you money.
- Cash Parking. Some registrars give you the ability to “cash park” your domains in such a way that they generate monthly revenue. Here’s how it works. Let’s say you own the domain “www.yourcityrealestate.com” and “yourcity” is the name of a city other than where you list and sell, so it is of no direct use to your business. You can cash park this domain through GoDaddy.com for $9.99 a month. When someone types in “yourcityrealestate.com,” the GoDaddy.com servers create a special page filled with links to other related sites, all of which pay for each click generated. You get to keep 80 percent of the pay-per-click revenue off your cash parked domain. In the examples GoDaddy.com provides, you’ll generate about $8 per month in net revenue for each domain name that’s cash parked with them. Not bad — it’s enough to cover your cost of annual domain registration fees about 12 times over. Obviously, the actual amount you receive will vary widely depending on how attractive the domain name is.
- Find a lessee. A much greater income potential from your dormant real estate-related domains is to have LeaseThis.com lease them for you. There is no charge for this and you get to keep at least half of the monthly lease fees that are generated. And, depending on how hot your domain name is, the gross monthly lease fee could range from $20 to more than $1,000. If LeaseThis.com is able to lease your domain to one client who wants to use it exclusively, then your income potential is much greater (like the “hollywoodrealestate.com” example above). On the other hand, if you can’t find a lessee immediately, you can opt for a very attractive cash-parking page that features real estate-related companies that are willing to pay for each click generated, similar to the Godaddy.com approach, only much more targeted. To see an example of this go to www.newyorkrealestate.com. Either way, the chances of maximizing your return on your dormant real estate domains is much higher with a company like LeaseThis.com brokering them for you, rather than using the cash-parking services of a registrar.