DO REAL ESTATE AGENTS UNDERSTAND DOMAIN NAMES?
Too many real estate agents start their career by building their business around a domain like, SallyJonesSellsHomes.com because it’s the best domain they can think of, it’s available, and it only costs around $10.
Many in the real estate industry are perfectly willing to spend hundreds if not thousands on flyers, postcards, email marketing campaigns, and other marketing methods to drum up clients. But the first impression they often give a new client, their online identity, is frequently built around a poor domain like: YourBestMemphisHomeNetwork.com or TinaSellsRealEstateFast.com.
Domain names like these have little if any value, do not establish credibility, cannot be resold, and are not very useful with search engine ranking. They are also not helpful if you ever plan to start your own brokerage, let alone sell it one day.
Many brokerages offer web space to their agents that is within the main brokerage’s website. Although it can be a helpful, albeit small piece of the puzzle to attract more clients, it is limiting for many of the same reasons listed above and certainly does not help if you switch to another broker.
What would be a good option for a real estate domain name?
A premium geographically (geo) targeted real estate domain like CityRealEstate.com or CityHomes.com (e.g. DenverRealEstate.com or SeattleHomes.com), when developed properly, instantly establishes your authority and significantly increases your probability of success. They are in extremely high demand not only because they are business defining domains, but they contain commonly searched for keywords that someone would use when they are looking for a home or trying to choose a real estate agent.
The problem is that all the great domains are taken. Aren’t they?
Yes, nearly every decent real estate domain has been unavailable for more than ten years. However, domains, just like real estate, are often auctioned off to the highest bidder when their previous owner goes out of business, dies, or neglects to pay their renewal fees (i.e. property taxes). Ownership can and often does change as investors frequently purchase those domains to resell or develop. Some domain owners may also be holding a domain that they hope to one day develop and they may sell if the price is right.
How can I find out if the domain I want is for sale?
Visit the home page of the domain to see if someone is actually using it. Often, the domain is owned by an established business or someone who is in the process of developing it. It is also very common to see a ‘parked’ web page full of text link advertisements which generate income for the owner whenever someone clicks on one of those links. If it is parked, it is likely for sale for the right price.
Some parked websites are customizable and are beginning to look less and less like a parked site. Regardless of whether it looks parked or not, scour the page to see if there is any indication that it is for sale. Generally there will be a text link that says ‘this site is for sale’, ‘this domain may be for sale’, or ‘contact us for info regarding this domain’ which will guide you in the right direction.
If you cannot tell if the domain is for sale after visiting the site:
Check the Whois for the domain(s) you are interested in to see if the owner has indicated that they may be willing to sell the domain. The Whois information contains the contact information from the person or company who has registered the domain name. Typically the owner will add ‘this domain may be for sale’ or ‘make an offer on this domain’ on the Whois if they are looking to sell. Regardless, it doesn’t hurt to contact the owner via the email address listed in their Whois or via the contact info from their website to make an offer on the domain whether it is for sale or not.
Many premium real estate domains can be purchased on the secondary market. Some of the top secondary markets include, GoDaddy.com, Sedo.com, and Afternic.com. The majority of premium real estate domains sell between $500 and $50,000. Quite a wide range, but the difference in value between a domain like ChicagoRealEstate.com and one for a city with a population of 1000 is easy to see.
I can’t afford it.
Assuming a 3% fee on the sale of the typical home in the United States (2010 average $272,900) a single lead from a great real estate domain can result in a commission of over $8,000. Owning the right domain name is instrumental towards your success in real estate as nearly every single new home purchase begins online.
If money is tight, try to reach out to the owner of the domain you want and make an offer that works with your current budget. Often, the price is negotiable or the owner may allow you to make payments or even finance the purchase over several months or even years depending on the domain.
What geographically targeted real estate domain should you try to acquire?
A premium geo targeted real estate domain does not contain hyphens, numbers, extra words, or keywords in the wrong order. If a domain ends is anything other than .com then it will inevitably leak traffic to the .com owner thus making the .com owner very happy. Many people do not realize there are any other extensions other than .com and even if they do, they will often visit the .com first. A premium real estate domain must also make sense and be something that a business can be built around or at a minimum add substantial value to your main site.
Focus on contacting the domain owner for the main city you work in as well as the surrounding cities and prioritize your domain search to CityRealEstate.com, CityHomes.com, or depending on your specialty, CityCondos.com, CityRentals.com, CityMortgage.com, CityLoans.com, or similar domains. Depending on where you live, you don’t have to focus only on geo targeting a city. If it would be good for lead generation, you can also try to acquire a certain borough, neighborhood, subdivision, etc.
What about owning the domain name for my business name? Should I only focus on geo targeting one city?
Some of the most successful individuals in the real estate industry own several domain names that they take advantage of in different ways. It’s still very important to own the domain name for your business whether it be CartWrightProperties.com, SmithBrothersHomes.com, or something of the like.
You can choose to utilize your domain names as separate websites that each serve a purpose and benefit one another, but you don’t have to. You could also opt to use them as forwards/redirects to your main site to capitalize on potential type in traffic that a domain receives even if you do not build a separate site for it. In the same facet, you can use such a domain on marketing materials or as an email address as long as that site is redirecting to an actual site.
A premium geo real estate domain name can often be purchased for a reasonable sum, given its benefits, and when developed properly can provide highly targeted leads year after year.
A premium real estate domain can be used in several ways, some of which include:
Your main website
As a simple redirect or forward to your existing site (with or without masking)
As a smaller specialty site used to generate leads or traffic for your other site(s)
Email (you @CityRealEstate.com)
On business cards, signs, marketing
A valuable piece of your sales pitch: “I’d like to feature your property on our home page at BostonRealEstate.com…”
As a directory or information site to earn revenue from lead generation, direct advertising, affiliate marketing, or pay per click
Strictly as an investment or just to keep it away from your competitors
It’s difficult enough starting a business which makes it all that much more important to start off on the right foot. Considerably more effort is required to succeed with the wrong domain name. If you have already established your business with a poor domain, it might be time to make a switch.
Premium real estate domains are easier to rank in search engines and provide instant credibility which translates into highly targeted visitors to your site, a higher conversion rate, lower marketing expenses, additional clients, more showings, and ultimately more sales. The importance of geo domains as well as some publicly reported real estate domain sales can be found HERE.