My Observations This Week

27

I maintain a relatively small domain name portfolio with approximately 1,000 domain names. Nearly all of my company’s domain names are available for sale, and I would guesstimate that somewhere between 85-90% of the domain names are considered general, nothing special, inventory. I am also regularly buying domain names in auctions and in private, although this has slowed a bit this year.

With the coronavirus seemingly slowing the domain aftermarket, I want to share a few observations of my own from the last week. I want to emphasize that my portfolio is relatively small compared to many other full-time investors, so I don’t think my observations are necessarily reflective of the general state of the aftermarket.

In the last week, I have closed 5 sales:

  • 3 sales at Afternic
  • 1 sale at Dan.com
  • 1 private sale

The three sales at Afternic and one sale at Dan.com were for less than $5,000. The three Afternic sales were closed via GoDaddy, and the domain names were sold for the BIN prices. One of the Afternic sales involved a broker, but the buyer paid the BIN price. The Dan.com sale was negotiated between the buyer and myself. The private sale was closed with someone who has bought domain names from me in the past and is an end user. I reached out to him to sell a recent acquisition.

In addition to these sales, I have received quite a few offers on higher end domain names submitted via Embrace.com landing pages. I have not received close to a reasonable or fair offer for any of those domain names. In fact, most people have not even replied to me after sending the prices.

In my opinion, the aftermarket for domain names is strong at the lower levels. People may be working on improving their businesses while times are slow, and they are buying a better domain name to accomplish this. I think buying a better domain name can be helpful to marketing, and it’s one thing in the control of a business owner in tough times.

For one of my sales at Afternic, I can see the buyer upgraded from a .app domain name. The other 2 Afternic sales have privacy on Whois records and the domain names aren’t being used yet. The Dan.com buyer has a business in the field of the domain name, and he bought one of the two exact match domain names for that business. The domain name I sold privately will help the buyer’s business.

I invite you to share your own observations on the market.

27 COMMENTS

  1. Just noticed I have a “pending sale” at Afternic on a name priced at over $100,000. Based on prior large “pending sales,” my guess is it will not close.

  2. I have a portfolio of 1800 names consisting of general two word combos. 7 total sales in march. 6 through Afternic and 1 direct via direct negotiation. All were less than $5000 and higher than $2000. Three were sold via BIN price and rest with negotiations. Only one name was acquired after 2017 for ($17), rest were old hand-reg names. Couple of these were registered way back in 2003. I have recently adjusted (revised down) prices and set as BIN which resulted in increased sales.

    • All gut feel based on what I paid, what I think it’s worth, and what I think someone else would be willing to pay. Sometimes I use the GoDaddy appraisal tool as a guideline since I know that could influence a buyer. For instance, if I buy a name for $100 and GoDaddy appraisal tool says it’s worth $2,400, I might price it at $1,999 knowing GoDaddy will show that appraised value if someone searches for the name there and the $401 difference might get someone to think they’re getting a deal.

  3. “the $401 difference might get someone to think they’re getting a deal”

    Right, that gets you some income, but harms the market overall, especially the higher value domains, which “domain investors” have been beaten down for years into believing they are worth far less than they really are because of things like that and more. And just take this as an opinion to ponder.

    • As a domain investor, my job is to make money not worry about the greater market. I will happily take $1,600 profit (after 20% commission) for a name I bought for $100.

      Chances are good that the name I bought for $100 isn’t all that great since it only cost $100 (assuming it was bought at auction in the last few years).

      • When I say “harms the market overall” I mean harms us all and the domain industry overall as well. You know – penny wise, pound foolish, quick cash grab vs. the big picture…

        Pretty sure I’ve made that clear about automated “appraisal” services across numerous blogs for years now…

        • My business runs on cash from domain sales. I can’t pay for anything based on my hopeful valuations, and I am certainly not leveraging valuations to free up cash like some people do with mortgages, HELOCs, or other types of debt. Domain sales is the lifeblood of my business and the idea of holding out for the perfect offer isn’t something I believe in, with the exception of my premium names.

          I am happy to churn inventory for nice margins. I’m not going to pass on a good offer on inventory while praying something better comes around. Maybe I’m leaving money on the table but it’s been working for me.

          Everyone has their own strategy though.

  4. Hand reg all my domains dirt cheap at $5.99 and resell at $59 or $$$$ easy peasy.
    Domaining is a stress reliever hobby. One 4L domain I bought at $15 years ago brings in $50 per mth just on parking. Amazing.

  5. It should be stated that you chose an extraordinary week to write about your sales. Extraordinary in that 5 sales in a week for 52 weeks would be 260 sales a year which would be 26% turnover of your entire portfolio compared to the average 1-2% for most portfolios.

    Just keeping it real and congrats on the sales.

    • I typically buy dozens if not hundreds of domain names a year, so the percentage of turnover in my portfolio is not easy to track and changes regularly. Also, the 1,000 figure is a guesstimate.

      With that said, yes, this was an atypical week. I shared it because it was surprising to have this many end user deals given the current economic climate. I was anticipating things would be dead for at least a couple of months. I have no idea if this deal velocity will continue or if it was an anomaly.

  6. I sold 5 domains in the last 2 weeks, nothing huge but decent roi sales, all at aftermarkets, Sedo, Afternic and Uni, I haven’t noticed too much virus related change in sales in the last month or so other than selling Survival dot tv ha, and a few inquiries on WelfareCheck dot com and LoanRelief dot com but those were just lowball offers trying to capitalize on the moment I am guessing. The most virus related thing so far was a guy asking if I would sell CruiseshipVacations dot com for $50 because he said it has no value anymore, he might be right lol…

  7. Strangely I’ve had much increased inquiries since the virus issues picked up. Maybe people have more time to get on their domain needs since people are staying in more and other activity has slowed down. In the 2008 downturn I remember the domain industry wasn’t hit that hard, sales kept going. Internet business and use is more key than ever now since people are stuck at home indefinitely.

  8. I’m on the same page as you, Elliot, although my portfolio is 2000 domains.
    Some closed sales, but no 6 figure sales so far. I had a pending 6 figure sale on a package of 4 domains via a broker, but the client decided to cancel/postpone due to the pandemic delaying the close of the funding round.

    forge on..health is more important

  9. Hi Elliot. Just curious why you were quick to dismiss and predict the “pending sale?” Any insight on this would be appreciated. Thank you.

  10. Great dialogue guys, I appreciate your insightful and candid input. Afternic has come through for a couple of K’s for 3 names lately but I only have about 150 or so of my 750 some listed. I keep pulling them out for fear they’ll sell for what their listed at. Yes, I’m rethinking all that. I have quite a bit of junk (what was I smoking when I regged that?), but most of the rest I’ll peddle to targeted businesses needing that better name. At least that’s the plan. Up until recently, I haven’t had a decent website or even many single landing pages but that’s my new focus. Thanks Guys.

  11. A Chinese broker emailed me this week regarding an older inquiry. I quoted him the same price as last year. Then he came back and was getting cute with me like “oh sorry but due to Covid-19 Chinese companies can’t afford to pay that much anymore, this is their best offer”. I replied thanks but due to the Chinese Virus I have to raise the price by 30% to cover my losses.. Still waiting for his reply. Stay safe, everyone!

  12. I would be curious to know what kind of domains they were .As you mentioned they were average domains .
    I have about 1100 “average ” domains which I cannot even get a bid of $100 for .I think in the domaining industry is that is ‘what people do know you andwho you know ” as for what domains you are selling

    • The 3 Afternic sales names were bought via BIN through the GoDaddy network. The Dan.com sale was generated via lead that landed on the domain name and made an offer. Dan.com didn’t even touch it until I agreed to sell.

      Please explain (with specifics) about how you think these sales were made because of the people I know. That doesn’t really even make sense to me, and it’s almost like an insult because you are essentially saying that I must be getting special help from people I know to sell my names instead thinking that I must have picked some good names at good prices to enable me to sell them profitably.

      I’ve been involved in domain names as my full time profession since November of 2007, so that experience guides me into choosing domain names at the right price. For 10+ years, I have been involved in expiry auctions every day. My wife can attest to the fact that whether I am at home, on vacation, or doing something else, I am always looking at auctions in the morning and in the evening, if not throughout the day.

      Here is a list with some of my better domain names. These names are NOT really similar to the names I sold last week, but it gives you an idea of the top tier of my portfolio http://www.topnotchdomains.com/investments.html

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