Publisher’s note: Bill Hauck shared an insightful comment earlier this week about real estate domain names, and I asked him if he would be willing to expound on it in a blog post. Bill was kind enough to write the article below sharing some of his advice.
I’ve been a residential real estate agent for nearly 20 years and a domain name investor/enthusiast for at least the last ten years, maybe longer. During that time, I’ve purchased a number of real estate-related domain names to use for my real estate business, and others for the sole purpose of licensing or reselling. If you’re considering purchasing real estate-related domain names with the goal of licensing or reselling them to an end-user, my thought process as both Realtor and as a domainer may be of some help to you.
As a Realtor, I wanted to acquire geo-specific, real estate-related domains for lead generation. I was able to acquire several on Namejet and purchased (or negotiated trades for) other domains directly from the owners. Here is a list of domains I was willing to purchase over the years, albeit not at very high prices; SiouxFallsLots.com, SiouxFallsLand.com, SiouxFallsListings.com, SiouxFallsTeam.com, SiouxFallsCondos.com, SiouxFallsCondominiums.com, SiouxFallsBuilders.com, SiouxFallsBuilder.com, SiouxFallsSDRealEstate.com, SiouxFallsProperties.com and SiouxFallsHome.com. While I still own most of the above domains, the most desirable domains a Realtor can own, and more importantly may be willing to pay thousands of dollars for, are “City”Homes.com or “City”RealEstate.com. I was fortunate to acquire SiouxFallsHomes.com after many years of staying in touch with the owner and making generous offers for the domain.
In my opinion, “City”Homes.com is a bit shorter and slightly more brandable. However, I like the keywords in “City”RealEstate.com better and the domain can also be used for residential and commercial property. While there may be some money to be made in other real estate-related domain names, my personal preference when investing in geo real estate domains is to focus on “City”Homes.com and “City”RealEstate.com.
Once you have a quality real estate domain (RED) that you want to license or sell is to find an end-user. Years ago, I used to make lists of individual real estate agents and their e-mail addresses. While I had some early success that led to licensing three real estate domains (REDs), the returns weren’t high enough to justify all of the work. More recently, I’ve found that it’s become difficult to find e-mails addresses of individual agents, although I suspect there are services available for such purposes.
Here are some bullet points from my personal experience
- The best domains for Realtors are “City”Homes.com and “City”RealEstate.com.
- Don’t buy any domains with the word “Realtor.” It’s a trademarked term, should always be capitalized, and the National Association of Realtors does some policing to make sure non-Realtors aren’t using the term. Even agents have to be careful how they use the term.
- I’ve only had male real estate agents willing to license or buy domains from me. I don’t know why, it’s just my experience.
- I’ve had a more difficult time licensing and selling domains of cities that are suburbs vs. the domains of what I call “free-standing” or “stand-alone” cities.
- I think it helps to set up a simple website (I use WordPress) for each domain pointing out the benefits and a way to contact you. I really like the Domena WordPress Theme. See AugustaHomes.com for an example.
- It’s A LOT of work to contact individual real estate agents.
- Don’t assume people in real estate in California are necessarily going to be more tech savvy than agents in Nebraska or Minnesota. I’ve spoken with office managers and brokers in California that thought the idea of spending a couple thousand dollars for the “City”RealEstate.com domain of a city with a population well over 100,000 was crazy. I’ve also found there are some very smart, savvy agents in the Upper Midwest.
- Focus on contacting the gatekeepers, such as the office managers at real estate firms. You may even be able to convince the head of the Multiple Listing Service in the relevant area to offer the domain in the announcements, which are often times run daily and e-mailed to all the agents.
- Purchase real estate domains of fast-growing cities with robust real estate markets. Also, you’ll want to focus on cities with expensive housing, not the ones in which the average price of a home is $100,000.
- Generally speaking, I focus on cities with populations over 100,000 people. However, I recently made an exception and purchased OkobojiRealEstate.com for $160 on Namejet. I liked the domain because I’m familiar with and travel to the area about once per year. While the town is quite small, the home prices for lake property are very high. Given there are fewer than ten real estate firms in the area, it took me less than 30 minutes to contact each of the Brokers and make them aware the domain was available. I had an offer within a day or two for a couple thousand dollars. I didn’t sell and plan to develop the domain.
- I’ve had more success licensing and selling domains to agents that live in the same part of the US in which I live, the Upper Midwest. I think there’s more of a trust factor when you’re dealing with someone that lives in a similar area.
- I believe once you receive a lead on one of your domains, it’s best to call and actually speak with the interested party. I think you have a better chance of sealing the deal with someone when you take the time to speak with them.
About the same time, early 2015, that I purchased OkobojiRealEstate.com, I also purchased a “City”Homes.com domain at auction. The population of the city is several hundred thousand people. I had planned to pay as much as $2,000-$3,000 for the domain, but got caught up in the auction and ended up paying $6,400. I have certainly paid far too much for some domains because of auction frenzy. I have to admit having some reservations about spending that much on that “City”Homes.com domain with no guarantee I’d even get my money back. I would also caution people to start off with much smaller purchases until they have enough experience and available cash (I don’t recommend borrowing money to purchase domains) to graduate to larger purchases.
I set up a simple (Domena) site for the “City”Homes.com domain. Instead of contacting every Realtor in the area, I contacted a handful of responsible brokers and/or the office managers at the top real estate firms in the area. This leads to my final tips;
- Search the internet for “city” homes and “city” real estate in the applicable area. Look for successful real estate agents that have an online presence on Page 1 or 2 of the search engines.
- Don’t assume that because an agent already has a site that ranks reasonably well that they won’t be interested.
- Look for agents that are already using a less-desirable, less-brandable version of the domain you’re trying to market.
- Look for agents that have large teams. It’s not unusually for successful Realtors with teams to develop a second or even third website for lead generation. The bigger the team, the more mouths to feed.
- When e-mailing real estate agents or office managers, keep it short and sweet, no more than a sentence or two. Direct them to the website/sales page that you’ve set up for the domain with more information and the “pitch.”
After using the tips above, I had a number of e-mails and phone calls from agents in response to the limited marketing that I did for the “City”Homes.com domain for which I had paid $6,400. The best leads I received came from male agents with small real estate teams that they wanted to grow, or from agents that already had a large team and wanted to develop a second lead-generating website to help support the team. Fortunately, I had a couple of agents make offers on the domain at the same time and it sold shortly thereafter for $15,000. It was a win-win transaction and I have no doubt that the buyer will get an excellent return on his investment.
If you currently own quality real estate-related domains, or are considering purchasing a few, I hope these tips will prove helpful.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in articles that are not written by Elliot Silver may not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher. Contributing writers are not endorsed by Elliot Silver or Top Notch Domains, LLC.