Yesterday afternoon, JE.com failed to hit its reserve price on NameJet. The high bid was $500,000, although the posted reserve price range was $500,001 – $600,000. Essentially, this meant anyone could place a $500,000 bid without any obligation to buy the domain name since the seller is not permitted to reduce the price to a high bid that did not hit the reserve.
Theo Develegas made this observation and suggestion on Twitter:
When the top bid is $1 below the reserve, that's safe bidding. Don't disclose the reserve!
— Domain Gang (@DomainGang) May 8, 2019
Not posting the reserve price range would likely eliminate bids at just under the reserve because it would be too risky for people to bid if they don’t actually want to buy a domain name. We would likely see more genuine bidding if people were obligated to purchase a domain name should their bid hit the reserve. This would give a better idea of the market value of a domain name.
As a bidder, I like to see the reserve price range so I don’t waste my time watching an auction that has a reserve range above what I would consider paying.
Notably, not all domain name auction platforms share the reserve price range. Sedo and NameJet both display the reserve price range. GoDaddy Auctions does not. I can’t recall whether or not other domain auction venues that offer private auctions display the reserve prices, so feel free to share that info if you know.
Do you think auction venues should publish the reserve range?