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The impact of Top Level Domains (TLD’s) like .realestate on the industry

2 minute read

There’s been a lot in the media recently about the soon to be released unlimited Top Level Domains (TLDs). Shortly, companies, governments and cashed up businesses will be able to purchase .anything and then offer for sale domain names www.example.anything for the TLD they own.

Though this won’t be cheap, as to be considered as a potential TLD purchaser you must lay down a USD185,000 deposit and then pay an annual renewal fee of USD25,000. This does sound like a lot of money but when you think of the potential revenue (through the sale of domain names) then it could be a very good investment.

If we look at real estate the most searched term in our industry then .realestate will be the most highly prized TLD. Whoever succeeds in purchasing .realestate will then be able to sell domain names like www.australia.realestate, www.sydney.realestate, www.london.realestate, www.cheap.realestate, www.beach.realestate, www.luxury.realestate and so on. The potential revenues are extraordinary but this will come at a cost, as these domains are likely to be auctioned to the highest bidder. Meaning the likes or REA and Domain are tiny fish in a worldwide pool of potential purchasers for .realestate.

So how significant will the introduction of TLDs like www.anything.realestate or www.anything.properties be to the real estate industry? Some analyst suggest that people’s reliance on search engines will be diminished as instead of typing in “Sydney real estate” into google they can go to www.sydney.realestate. The same could be said for real estate portals as why would you go to REA or Domain to look for real estate in Sydney when you can simply go to www.sydney.realestate. In theory this could well be the case but in practice this does not always happen. It relies on the purchaser of these domains to hold all the content in that area/type eg Sydney. If all available property in Sydney does not appear on www.sydney.realestate then property seekers will have no choice but to continue using Realestate.com.au and Domain where they’re assured the largest representation of Sydney real estate will appear.

One thing is certain though. Those real estate agencies who get in first and purchase their suburb.realestate will have a significant advantage over their competitors, as these domains will certainly drive web traffic to their business.

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36 Comments

  • Stewart
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 11:50 am 0Likes

    Wow…

    Quite a game changer for every industry…!

  • Andy Del Vecchio
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 11:52 am 0Likes

    Ryan ,
    Great post, You beat me to it!!

    This is such an interesting situation. I thionk Google recently changed its algorithm to take less emphasis on keywords in domain names…was this an anticpated change because of this domain name regime change?

    If Real estate .com.au dont buy …..dot.realestate, would they change their name?

  • Chris
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 11:58 am 0Likes

    Ryan
    when are these domains likely to be available to purchase?
    Chris

  • Tatiana Mijalica
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 11:58 am 0Likes

    I think it will be hard to get the average consumer to use these as good as they may sound. They struggle with even with a .com or a .net.au if you have them in your URL.
    .tv and .mobi have also not gone anywhere, .co is struggling. Not sure about this one – the natural instinct in AUS is to put .com.au after everything. Time will tell.

  • Andy Del Vecchio
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 12:01 pm 0Likes

    great post Ryan, you beat me to it !

    It is such an interesting shift.

    I think Google recently changed their algorithm to give less emphasis on keywords in domain names , was this a precursor to this chnage and will their be more from the giant.

    and should real estate.com.au change its name if it doesnt buy dot real estate ?

  • Stewart
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 12:01 pm 0Likes

    Good points, Tatiana…it will take time, if it is going to take over the current paradigm…

    And people don’t like little changes like that affecting them too mcuh – computer details are annoying for most people….and i don’t blame them!

  • Nick
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 12:06 pm 0Likes

    I’m with Tatiana a little. Some people even insist on putting www. in front of everything, even when its a subdomain like mail.google.com they will write http://www.mail.google.com because they think every site needs it or it won’t work.

    Another example is .id.au. It was designed so all Australians could have a cheap TLD for their personal sites (id being identity). No one uses it because you only confuse people.

    Then there is the price. If its like .xxx (which does exist now), many of these fancy domains will price themselves out of the market and no company will bother. This is the reason you don’t hear about .travel, .aero, .jobs and the others that already exist.

  • Ryan O'Grady
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 12:29 pm 0Likes

    Chris, from what i’ve heard a decision is being made this month and submissions for domains can be placed after this.

  • PaulD
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 12:38 pm 0Likes

    I think you have to look at the way people search now. I don’t believe habits will change. People don’t look up things with .com , and they certainly don’t just search realestate.com. They enter into google things like balmain real estate, and canberra real estate. When google takes them there, they click on the most appropriate website on page 1 of the search.

    Why else do people like REA spend SO much money on SEO and adwords? It’s because they pick the people up from the topic they choose. That’s why I can’t understand why people associated with the real estate industry have this eternal fascination that all the listings in Australia need to be on the one website. They don’t. People rarely search a suburb in Brisbane and then suddenly think that they want to check out a suburb in Melbourne, if they are serious about finding somewhere to live.

    All you have to do, is ask someone who has nothing to do with real estate, to search for a property in an area that they think they would like to live. They immediately put the location first and then there can be a number of second choices. Real estate is normally the majority of search terms that comes next, but it can also be houses, units, properties, for sale, etc. They don’t go to Domain or REA and search there. How do I know ?? because I have tried it many times with people that we have looking for properties. I have tried it with friends, other business people, and even tenants of ours. The behaviour is always the same. The fact that they end up on either or both those sites is because often they are at the top of the search choices on the landing page. If you don’t believe me – try it and see what happens.

    I believe people’s search habits will stay the same, and if the search term has .realestate as a suffix then it will probably be on the landing page, but not necessarily first. The only way it would work is if you get more than a 90% takeup rate by the agents in each suburb.

  • Glenn
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 12:51 pm 0Likes

    Works like this I believe –

    If you want a domain such as .realestate you apply and pay your $175k or whatever it is.

    Then the parties who paid get a chance to work something out between themselves, if you drop out at this stage you lose 30% I think it was.
    At the end of the process if the parties cant agree on working together the domain is Auctioned between them and the losers lose all their $175K

    The winner can then sell or rent sub domains globally, RayWhite.realestate etc

    There’s millions to be made , remember this is global.

  • Shane Dale
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 12:51 pm 0Likes

    Scary thing is that I have personally observed many people – including junior staff in my own office – just always type into the google search field – the actual domain name of the website they want then click on the search results instead of just using the domain in the address bar.

    Bizarre but strangely widespread for the less technically inclined majority.

    So, in conclusion – if Google rewards these new domains with automatic high ranking for no other reason than their closeness to the search term – then they will succeed.

    If google doesn’t reward them highly then I think the TLD domains will not be game changers, but more clutter and confusion, from which only google wins – as the single remaining brand for a source for everything.

  • Peter Fletcher
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 1:23 pm 0Likes

    The eyeballs will go to where the best content is found regardless of the what comes after the dot. Glenn’s right, there’s some coin to be made. Anyone care to stump up the coin, I’ll write the proposal and we’ll go fifty-fifty. 🙂

  • Glenn
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 1:35 pm 0Likes

    Ok Peter but be prepared to write off your share, can you imagine what .realestate GLOBAL will go for ?

    Better try something easier like ………errr dunno but whatever you go for it’s likely to end up in an auction and tears for the losers, the winners will be the larger corporations who will take as many as they can get their hands on.

    Melb IT thinks it will take a few years to kick in but it will kick in.

  • Vic
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 1:55 pm 0Likes

    Peter- Murdoch has already secured .realestate and Warren Buffett has tabs on .property.

    It will be exciting to see agents fight over the rights to their own suburb subdomains. I’ll bet that Robert Simeon wins the Sydney.realestate domain and Glen B takes Goldcoast.realestate. But it will cost them heaps.

    When we first started our business we researched buyers searching habits. Remembering the real buyers only buy on average once every 5 years and they do not look at real estate sites everyday during this time. But when they do the anecdotal evidence we gathered suggested that they did not use the address bar. They googled viz “houses/homes in Bondi”, “St Kilda properties/realestate” , “Hobart real estate” etc-
    The key will still be who has the best SEO but no question the one that has the suburb and realestate combination will be high up there.

  • Bill Burdin
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 2:02 pm 0Likes

    From what I have read and researched these new domains will be a paradigm mover. First Ryan I believe they will not be resolved by http://www.sydney.realestate just sydney.realestate

    Also with the advent of voice recognition the time will come where search engines will be rarely used.

    Tatiana may be of the opinion that the average user will find it hard to use but this will be so simple searching Google will be hard by comparison.

    Imagine opening your device, lets say a laptop, which by the way will be so yesterday, and just saying “sydney realestate” and in the blink of an eye being presented with sydney real estate.

    The owner of the subdomain “Sydney” will present real estate from the sydney area, that’s a guarantee, a clause will be in the domain licence that ensures the domain is a reflection of what is being sought.

    ICANN will make sure the ownership of domains is more regulated than at present, so a user will be presented with information they are seeking.

    I’ll predict voice recognition will produce real estate information right to the suburb. Say “bondi real estate” and in the blink of an eye there will be real estate from bondi.

    Anyone who was around in the 90’s will remember the gold rush for securing domain names, well the rush for these new subdomains will make the 90’s seem like a tea party.

    Who will secure the domain .realestate? I wouldn’t know but it will be sold for millions, a swarm of interested parties will make sure of that. REA with it’s billion capital will be just another small player on the world stage.

    Whoever secures .realestate will become a registrar selling subdomains and have an opportunity to make untold millions.

    I can see the portal uploading companies confronting massive problems. When these new domains become ubiquitous, and I’ll use the bondi.realestate as an example. Why wouldn’t the local agencies in Bondi form a cooperative to bid for the subdomain bondi.

    If successfull they would upload their properties to their own bondi.realestate portal. That’s all they would need to do, and maybe upload to sydney.realestate

    Anyone who thinks this cannot happen is living in fairyland, the Internet graveyard is full of tech companies who fell on their swords.

    And why don’t we hear of the big guns discussing these new TLD’s, simple answer really, doing so would kill their own share prices because they have no guarantees whatsoever they will secure any of this realestate, excuse the pun.

    I read in an earlier post a wise old sage saying “Beware of the dog in box 8” well here it comes.

  • Bill Burdin
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 2:09 pm 0Likes

    Ryan said: “If all available property in Sydney does not appear on http://www.sydney.realestate then property seekers will have no choice but to continue using Realestate.com.au and Domain where they

  • Bill Burdin
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 2:12 pm 0Likes

    Vic: Peter- Murdoch has already secured .realestate and Warren Buffett has tabs on .property.

    That will be the most interesting war to watch, will it be .realestate or .property that wins. Not unlike the Beta & VHS war of an earlier time.

  • Vic
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 2:27 pm 0Likes

    Bill,

    Isn’t the strength of the words real estate mainly peculiar to Australia? My guess is that Property would have the greater worldwide appeal.

    I can see Sydney municipal council buying .sydney and selling – realestate.sydney,- property.sydney,- homes.sydney and so forth.

  • Bill Burdin
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 3:01 pm 0Likes

    Well maybe, but there are places called Sydney around the worl, in SA, USA, Vanuatu and Canada. Melbourne IT suggest ICANN may go to auction with such names. The domain application window to lodge expressions of interest will be 60 days so I hope the Sydney councillors are awake.

  • Bill Burdin
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 3:04 pm 0Likes

    Hey Vic, that’s an intersting one, if NSW Sydney secure .Sydney how would they determine who got realestate.sydney Political party donations are about to hit a new level.

  • Nick
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 3:11 pm 0Likes

    Exactly Bill. Its all about money and who can make the most.

  • Dashworlds
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 5:26 pm 0Likes

    Playing the TLD Game Without Spending $185,000 (plus potentially unlimited yearly costs):

    It’s early days, but you can now create your own set of Domains & TLDs at no cost and without reference to ICANN, simply by registering new Dashcom (instead of Dotcom) Domains.

    Dashcoms are brand new web addresses in the format “sport-com”, “jazz-music” and “high-heels” (you can even use Facebook Emoticons to register site names such as “??-??”).

    With users and members in over 90 countries worldwide, resolution is via an APP although ISP links are now available to negate that need (ISP links that are also available to ICANN)

    Dashcoms can be registered totally free at sites like Dashworlds.com

  • Shane Dale
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 5:29 pm 0Likes

    quoted from Bill –

    Why wouldn

  • Bill Burdin
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 5:42 pm 0Likes

    Shane, 18 months ago when we floated the idea of a portal in the ACT owned by a cooperative of agents we had the same objections you propose and people did laugh at us, just like you laugh now.

    You’ll never get agents to talk together! We did.
    Who owns it! We worked that out.
    Which platform will we use for data! We solved that.
    What happens when a new agency turns up! We solved that.
    A big job for no profit! We solved that.
    A shortage of volunteers! We solved that.

    And now http://www.getrealty.com.au is online and owned by a
    cooperative of agents all supporting a common cause. We are still in the shallows but we’ll venture into the deep end eventually due to the resolve of the coop.

    Now you may be right about what I proposed or you may be wrong.

  • Matthew N
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:38 pm 0Likes

    This domain rush will only serve to strengthen Google’s position.

    You thought people were already confused by the internet? Just wait till round two.

  • Sal Espro
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:20 pm 0Likes

    And so it goes … 2nd verse same as the first….
    I remember when I debated what I could do with God.com when it was available online – about 1993, I think. You were just a twinkle in yr parents’ eyes, Ryan 🙂 (Didn’t take it and some evangelical crowd in the US put up a shocking site). The only reason I wonder, “What if”, now, is that apparently Social.com bidding has begun at $5m.
    Unless you can afford to be in the game, better just to concentrate on how to get yr listings and service your clients. A domain helps but ain’t the main game for most of us!

  • Vic
    Posted June 3, 2011 at 8:49 am 0Likes

    I love the way Salespro always dips in with some sobering logic- must come with age/wisdom.

    I can’t see this being a game changer. Google just won’t allow it to happen.

    However, it is an opportunity that the smart real estate agents looking to get independence from the portal machines, will embrace. I cannot see it as cooperative ventures for suburbs- history will show that cooperatives will not work for all the reasons that Paul Dale has come up with.

    I have seen cooperatives try to work within the rural sector and beyond some volunteer work at the beginnings, none of the hard nosed business people will give of their time and money to the cooperative. They fail because men of goodwill on boards and in management positions are those who are not running their own businessess successfully. The cooperatives are then taken over as public company commercial ventures, and the intended gains by those who started the idea, evaporate befor their eyes. (20 years experience as a senior executive with Australia’s largest Bank)

    So,- just in case- the smart forward thinking agents will try to take up their slice early, the franchise bodys will also grab for their members and municipal area and governments will grab what they can.

    And at the end of the day we are all dependent on what google does.

  • Sal Espro
    Posted June 3, 2011 at 11:18 am 0Likes

    You don’t sound like much of a spring chicken yourself, Vic 🙂
    There are certain principles that hold tru whether or not you are Groupon, Fbook, MySpace (remember them?), David Jones, Realestate.com.au, Yellow Pages, Twitter (did you know they only have 600 advertisers despite all their noise?!!), Ford, Vegemite, Franchise group, milk bar, local real estate agency, … That’s why McKinsey, Bain, Deloittes et al have been able to franchise their consulting models.

  • Ryan O'Grady
    Posted June 4, 2011 at 3:03 pm 0Likes

    Andy, I think there is very little chance REA would ever change their name, as it has become a household name across Australia. I guess if they can’t purchase .realestate then they will try and purhcase as many 2nd level domains as possible, taking these out of the market and pointing them back to realestate.com.au

  • MAC
    Posted June 7, 2011 at 11:10 am 0Likes

    Ryan, wouldn’t Google ‘look poorly’ upon REA linking 2nd level domains back to REA? i.e. Isn’t that like ‘farming’?

  • Shane Dale
    Posted June 7, 2011 at 3:26 pm 0Likes

    Hi Bill,

    I dont mean to laugh – I sincerely wish you well.

    Its just my call that I think the task is extremely difficult. I hope you prove me wrong. From my personal experience, agents dont work well together on any level and the larger the scope – the more likely this will be the reality.

    If you can reach a tipping point of some sort such as a huge local success – then naturally it will be easier to get more regions on board. ACT may be a more sensible region to apply this strategy as the encumbent player “allhomes” is not a national and may be vulnerable in some way, I dont know. They have repelled other attempts before!

    Regarding these new domains – I think the entire space is getting cluttered and content and SEO will still win. I think google will return in some way – even if its a sorting of the portal sites on offer – in a deeper – searchable way.

  • Ryan O'Grady
    Posted June 8, 2011 at 10:30 pm 0Likes

    Mac, I don’t think it is an issue if there is quality content on the domains but perhaps they will just purchase them and not use them.

  • Karl Morris
    Posted June 30, 2011 at 8:24 am 0Likes

    I have been spending many hours reading up on the New gTLD launch articles.
    What I am concerned with is the simple fact of what will these do to the .com owners who are working to make there mark and business on the internet. What are the prices going to be for these new domains?
    How is this going to affect the other domains on the World Wide Web?

    Is it even worth buying a .com, .net, .org, .biz, etc

  • Damon
    Posted July 15, 2011 at 9:11 am 0Likes

    @Tatiana Mijalica says:
    .co is struggling

    ???
    How?
    It hit over 1 million names registered in under a year.
    Companies are replaing their tired looking .COM with a fresh short .CO
    The market has no bubble, it is valued at exactly the price theat it should be.
    You really have no idea what you are talking about do you?

    ___

    These new TLD’s will not have any real impact on .COM, .CO, .NET or .ORG.
    They are designed purely as money makers, not as a stepping stone for the Internet. Why would I type in a TLD name like .apple or .microsoft when I can type in a much shoter .CO or .COM? It’s stupid and very few will profit from it.
    It will however stress the importance of having a good Domain Name, and should push up the value of the real TLD’s and ccTLD’s.
    ICANN has turned the Internet into a circus all for greed. F for fail. These new TLD’s are going to fade away very quickly. People like short and to the point Domains. These new TLD’s can have a maximum of over a hundred characters. Great!
    example.doyouthinkthatthiswillworkasithinkthatitisgarbage
    or…
    example.co, example.com, example.net

    That’s a hard decision. lol
    What a joke.

  • George Savva
    Posted July 22, 2011 at 2:50 pm 0Likes

    Ryan,

    Great post, I own quite a few domain names with a focus on eastern suburbs of Sydney as well as http://www.sydneyrealestate.com.au, what are your thoughts and how can we extract maximum value.

  • Ryan O'Grady
    Posted July 22, 2011 at 7:55 pm 0Likes

    George, you would have a lot of past property data for your office so I’d set the sites up with current, sold, leased listings which are relevant to the suburbs they domains are concerned with. Once you have one template setup it is quite easy to have the rest setup.

    If you use a basic CMS with a blog in it then you can also publish some relevant news.

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