Last fall, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) announced that they had procured the rights to the .REALTOR top-level domain (TLD), allowing their members (and members of the Canadian Real Estate Association) to obtain their own .REALTOR site and soon, Associations and brokerages will be able to scoop their domains up as well. It is already the sixth fastest growing top-level domain in history, with actual sites in use (not domains squatted upon like other top-level domains) and over 100k domains already live.
The trade group has spent the last eight years in the application process through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) which coordinates domains and IP addresses globally, overseeing thousands of new (and future) TLDs like .jobs, .cars, .ninja, and the .MLS and .realestate TLDs also under NAR’s administration.
Associations, brokerages next in line
A few hundred state and local Realtor-owned associations may sign up for their .REALTOR pre-launch on May 6th, before the official launch when all will be allowed to apply on May 7th at 10am cst.
Just as with Realtors applying for the TLD, there are rules. Associations and brokerages may only claim a domain that matches the name they are doing business under, or an acronym of the name. Anyone looking to snap up their domain will pay $79 annually, and there are discounts after the launch, as well as multi-domain and multi-year discounts.
So while Realtors are restricted to their name (j.smith.REALTOR or Tulsa.JohnSmith.REALTOR or BuyWithJohnSmith.REALTOR), Boards have restrictions as well and combinations will be allowed, so the Florida Association of Realtors can have FAR.REALTOR or FloridaAOR.REALTOR or even FAOR.REALTOR, and Associations can even get five years free if they participate in the .REALTOR marketing program (applications are due April 30th).
Why operating a TLD matters
Protecting the Realtor brand is a clear benefit to NAR being in charge of these top-level domains. Nearly a decade ago, NAR was intrigued by the rumor that ICANN would be launching new top-level domains, so they teamed up with the experts at Second Generation to become a player on behalf of members.
“We have a responsibility as stewards of the real estate world,” NAR’s Bob Goldberg explains, noting that as with the TLDs, they set the trend 16 years ago through realtor.com.
Tom Embrescia, Chairman of Second Generation said, “nearly all real estate searches start online, and Realtors are the PhDs of doing real estate, so it’s important that they separate themselves online, and using an exclusive domain does just that.”
But it’s more than just a marketing play. Embrescia stated, “.coms will always exist, you just never know what you’ll get.” Just because something is BrazilianRealEstateMan.com, when you go there, it very well could be a virus-laden trap, or someone selling fake Nikes.
How this program is history changing
We’ve talked about this program for months now, but most don’t understand exactly how history-changing it is. You see, .REALTOR is actually a case study for ICANN. That’s right.
The reason for this pedestal is because NAR offers something most can’t – the NRDS. The National Realtors Database System is where all member data information lives, and every member has a unique ID number. When applying for a .REALTOR domain, it is tied into NRDS, and only active members may obtain a .REALTOR URL – active being the key word, as they trade group holds all members to a Code of Ethics. Consumers will eventually know what they’re getting as this goes mainstream which takes time, but on behalf of the industry, NAR is ahead of their game.
Aside from the “knowing what you’re getting” through NRDS factor, NAR is also making history by being among the first to have an approved TLD. They’re protecting the industry under the new way the internet works.
What most people haven’t grasped yet is that top-level domains are reorganizing the entire web, and changing how the internet works through segmentation. NAR understood this a decade ago.
Google is snatching up top-level domains as well, so Second Generation believes that brands using a TLD like .REALTOR will eventually see a clear SEO benefit (Google’s playing the game, they understand it, so they’ll likely reward it).
The wild west of the .com world will always exist, but through this new segmentation, watch for the web to finally organize. Matthew Embrescia, President of Second Generation explained that this is what was originally envisioned for the web, which originated with .com, .gov., .edu, and the like, and decades later, is finally becoming a reality.
ICANN isn’t handing out top-level domains like candy – the process is intense and slow, so don’t expect an explosion. ICANN has high standards, for example, they are working with the banking industry on security measures for .bank TLD applicants, and won’t be issuing a .home TLD due to security and technology issues (home = houses, web home pages, used in lines of code).
There are thousands of applications in the process, and most are not yet approved (although Second Generation pointed out that some are having fun with it, like .SUCKS, which you’ll want to procure in your name so others can’t – see, wouldn’t it be nice if .SUCKS was tied to some sort of verification database!?).
We suspect that NAR may be announcing other TLDs in the future, but not en masse. Because ICANN is studying NAR + NRDS as the history-altering model, we believe that its success will lead to other industries following suit, ultimately leading to a new internet. The future is here, folks.