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Op/Ed

Are .realtor top-level domains worth buying? What will NAR do with the cash influx?

With the release of the .realtor top-level domain, we consider the advantages and disadvantages in purchasing a new URL.

.realtor

There has been lots of hype all over the Internet because the .realtor domains became available to Realtors® on October 23, 2014. In fact, in the Facebook Agent Mastermind group, there are many conversations about the pros and cons of obtaining a .realtor domain, so let’s dig in.

What is a .Realtor domain?

Offered by the National Association of Realtors®, a .realtor domain can be obtained by any member of the Association. In fact, the first 500,000 members who claim a domain will receive the first year free of charge. In lieu of a .com or a .net, agents can select their name or some version of their name (terms and conditions apply) followed by .Realtor.

Frankly, I’m not a big fan. Although I am not an SEO expert, I’ve always been schooled that .com is the best and only way to go. Second, I’m concerned about the issue of spelling. While you and I know the spelling of ‘Realtor’, what about the average Joe? This slightly more complex word coupled with a name that has multiple possible spellings may mean that consumers won’t land where you want them to land.

Enter trustworthiness

I’m also concerned about the fact that lots of people don’t really have the warm and fuzzy about real estate professionals. In fact, according to a survey by Choice Home Warranty in 2013, 67.5 percent of Americans do not trust real estate agents.

In fact, according to a Gallup poll, real estate professionals only rank 20 percent for honesty and ethics, which is 10 percent above car salespeople. Those numbers coupled with the fact that the real estate experience should be about the consumer (not the agent) makes the whole .realtor thing leave a bad taste in my mouth.

People complain about Zillow and Trulia and how they are killing our business. But the truth of the matter is that their ease of use and the perceived value of the information provided trumps pretty much any other user experience. Those sites are not focused on branding the agent, but instead are completely focused on the consumer. And Alexa rankings indicate that the user—the homebuyer—likes that experience.

Other alternatives to a .realtor domain

If it was for me to do, I would focus on finding homebuyers and home sellers that need my services today and providing them with the best possible experience so that they can tell their friends about how the local expert helped them get into their dream home or sell their home for top dollar. I could care less about where they get the information; I just want it to provide value to them. In fact, if the information they obtain on their own is not accurate, that is fine and dandy for me. It merely serves to further demonstrate my value in the real estate space.

The final thing that makes me not so keen on the .realtor thing is the cost. As far as I can tell, any domains after the first 500,000 cost $39.95, and $37.95 for the second year (if you only purchase a single year renewal). That’s about three hundred percent more than the average domain price on GoDaddy. So, I took my $37.95 and multiplied in by the 500,000 renewals, the total income provided from those renewals would be nearly 19 million dollars PER YEAR; that’s almost nineteen million in additional gross revenue for the National Association of Realtors®.

The Association does a lot of good things for its members. So, with that extra influx of cash, I’ll be curious to learn what additional measures they are going to take to revolutionize the industry, to support agents, and to help me be the best that I can be.

Melissa is an in-demand business success speaker and author, as well as a real estate broker with thousands of short sale transactions under her belt. She leverages her experience as a short sale insider to motivate thousands of business professionals to plan their careers better, execute more effectively on their plan, and earn more because of it.

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