Domain appraisals require domain experts

After reading Elliot’s post regarding domain appraisals, I was left with a taste of copper in my mouth.

Anyone that has ever licked a battery as a kid, will know what I’m talking about.

Domain appraisals are feasible and useful and can be performed accurately, unlike what Elliot seems to suggest.

The difference is, everyone can have an opinioneducated or not – on the worth of a domain, but an expert domain investor will deliver an accurate appraisal.

Some people like the way a domain sounds, its visualization in typing, its potential as a brand. Others dig deeper into the markets it targets, examine the metrics, the Google searches, the backlinks, its popularity across a variety of social media.

To discount a professional appraisal as unnecessary, is like saying that you can change your own A/C unit by looking at YouTube videos. I tried it, and it’s not easy.

Experts across all professions should be compensated for their time with money.

There is a lot of riff-raff that offer appraisal services in the domain industry; some are outright scams and exist for the sole purpose of stealing your $25 dollar fee. A professional appraisal is not automatic by some self-proclaimed expert software, it takes a lot of research for the metrics to be combined and rolled out as a dollar value. That’s what an expert domain investor will do.

Although ‘group appraisals’ can be fun, they are not indications of how a domain’s worth is determined. You might as well play the lottery.


  1. I agree Theo. Coming from a background of automated and professional appraisals (estibot), I will not preach about my service but rather convey an important point that I think Elliot missed.

    Everyone claims that a “domain is worth as much as an end user is willing to pay”…

    The problem with that way of thinking is that most end-users are uneducated about the value of domain names and they have no REFERENCE POINTS to compare their desired domain to a similar domain name that sold.

    This is why appraisals are not worthless, automated or otherwise. If they provide a potential buyer with a few similar sales, that alone opens their eyes a bit and makes them aware that domains cost more than $4.95.

  2. “. . .but an expert domain investor will deliver an accurate appraisal.”

    who are these experts you are speaking of ?

  3. Miss the old “group think” (by the old dogs) domain valuations @ DomainState.

    Problem was, too many junk domains submitted for analysis . . which eventually turned eyes away from the appraisal forum.

    I still think that group think by the experieneced old dogs can lend insight . . so long as no one is robotically speaking about multiples of type-in PPC revenue. Argh.

    Elliot’s recent post merely confirms that the speculative registration of junk domains (or “lottery tickets”) remains strong AND the tendency of not-so-successful domainers to shovel their trash onto public spaces in hopes of attracting interest remains unabated. (Reminds of the days of chuckleheads crafting domain appraisal threads with headlines touting the “Great”(ness) of the domain being submitted.

    Great domains speak for themsevles. They don’t need to half-baked ventriloquist to speak for them.

    CrankyOldMan / Webwork

  4. Luc – Very good points raised. Domainers that complain that they can’t find ‘end users’ have no idea about how domains are valued.

    Adam – Domain investors with a track record of 10 years or more in the domain industry, actively acquiring and selling domains, engaging in the domain industry’s activities – local or otherwise.

    Definitely not ‘parachutists’ that arrived from nowhere, with no technological background that simply flip domains as a part time hobby.

  5. CrankyOldMan – Those were the days πŸ˜€ DomainState retains some of its old glory and it definitely has a very low amount of forum white noise.

    Great domains still need a price tag. That’s what an expert appraisal will do. When a seller merely asks for a dollar price, they might be undercutting themselves; or asking for astronomical amounts.

  6. If the group (of old dogs) scales large enough one can benefit from their knowledge of all the undisclosed domain sales – which can lend better guidance to the valuation process.

    Public sales data is helpful but private knowledge, combined with aftermarket sales and negotiation experience, can be quite helpful when it comes to setting “functional values”.

  7. Miss those days, Theo. πŸ˜‰

    Drop by WebmasterWorld’s domain forum, once in awhile Theo, and be certain to shoot me a sticky so I know to give due deference to your additions to the dialogue. πŸ˜‰ (We do a lot to keep the spam noise down @ WMW, but give more leeway to what the pros may wish or need to add to make the dialogue work.)

  8. CrankyOldMan – Indeed, private or restricted data can provide an “insider’s view” of how the market’s metrics work. On the other hand, I’m aware of numerous private transactions, never documented, due to the low amount of money involved. They were amazing ‘feats’ achieved by the buyers; for the seller, this type of information is simply anecdotal. πŸ™‚

  9. tell me someone who’ll stand behind their domain appraisal with an offer to buy it for 50% of the appraisal price. if they had any idea what they were doing they’d be rich in no time. every single domain is a one off… period.

  10. RaTHeaD – If I were to follow that type of logic, my house appraiser should be making an offer to buy at 50% or whatever percentage.

    Of course offers can be part of an appraisal, but in a different model: domain pawning. Rick Latona did that for several years.

  11. Ms Domainer says


    Domains like and are no-brainers.

    For mid-level domains, I can do some basic research on my own (GAKT, for example), but I do think that end users often select their brands/domains based on emotion as opposed to hard numbers and are willing to advertise like crazy on a not-so-great term.

    When I buy domains, I try to find terms that elicit some positive emotional response, are memorable, pass the radio test, AND offer some decent numbers. That way, I have some sales ammo for when a potential buyer comes along.


  12. @Acro

    Share with us your experience and name those sources you used. I did that several times, when on same time I ordered appraisals from several well-known companies for same domain name and I received sooooo different resutls. And at the end I always sold my domain name for at least double…

  13. RaTHeaD I’ll appraise domains and buy them for 50% of my appraised price. . . . I do that nearly every time I buy a domain.

  14. Jay – Personalized services deliver – guess what – personalized results. For the sake of a ballpark figure or range, companies will put their ‘weight’ behind an appraisal, usually discounting the cost if you broker with them exclusively.

    Adam – Exactly why appraisals need a formalized contract; not to mention, a code of ethics.

  15. @Acro

    Most of time brokers push price down to make at least some money. Domain value is hard to clasify. Let’s take domain names. When you take a look at Fortune 500 and Global 500 companies, many of them have their own From first 20 of each list you got BP, GM, GE, VW and HP – those companies have their worth maybe billions for them. If you have such domain name, it is less then 1mm, right? So what is the real value? Other companies from Fortune 500 and Global 500, again let’s take just first 20 of each list, that have names that can use should for example ConocoPhillips, Japan Post, Berkshire Hathaway, J.P. Morgan. How much are willing they pay for for ConocoPhillips? for Berkshire Hathaway? for Japan Post or J.P. Morgan? They might offer nice money, but they might not be interested at all. And that makes a difference. And no appraisals know if there is such interest which would drive domain value to hight figure. Value is based on interest, that’s it!!!

  16. Jay – If value were based on interest, you’d get the first offer out of the first dozen that stood out of the rest. But that would not be representing the domain’s value, which is also based on potential. If you aren’t aware of the potential money you are leaving on the table, then you need to leave out the term ‘investor’ and become a ‘gambler’.

  17. @Acro – My point is that sometimes parties that would be willing to pay for domain name much more than others are not aware of such opportunity and appraisals and brokers drive sales within domainers which are looking for good deal for future resale and that is always much less then real value…

  18. Jay – I fully agree, that’s because the niche market of domaining is essentially very small, unless it rides the much larger technology sector. For the latter to happen, we need ambassadors of domaining among the technocrats.

  19. @Acro – And an existance of UDRP (how we know it today) makes it even harder to sell valuable domain names to right buyers.

  20. When I’ve helped “technocrats” buy domains they’ve asked me for my “appraisal” on domains. If I ask why they want my opinion, what I’ve noticed is they seem to want to know if they invest in a domain, can they get rid of the name for what they are about to pay for it, if all falls apart with their plans. They want a market price for immediate liquidity. Do we even have a fluid market like that in domains ?

    My appraisal (or anyone else’s) has really meant very little to buyers, when they realize this lack of liquidity. . . I guess the same can be said of sellers who get an appraisal and never can see that money from their assets.

  21. Adam – I have yet to experience any such incident; all my sales have been void of any “future trends” reference πŸ™‚ In fact, my advice to anyone spending money on a domain has been that of brand recognition or improvement of an existing brand. But you do raise an interesting point: would the buyers have spent $13 million if they needed assurance that they would recoup the money at any given moment? In my opinion, if that were a key point of the sale, it would have not occurred. Most buyers want the domain for what it represents; hence, an accurate valuation independent of budgets, trends or past sales is needed.

  22. Congratulations to all of the advertisers who benefited today. I should have anticipated that the same principles that apply to appraisal threads on forums apply elsewhere. But mostly, I’m realizing that most of our clicks & time spent online benefit someone else.

    I stopped posting appraisals on forums a long time ago, when I realized 99% of the people were a) not end users in the industries I was targeting, and b) in the case of non-English keywords, had no idea what the word meant and hadn’t bothered to read my translation or look it up.

    Yes, I’m bitter that no one (besides the ever-unqualified Uzoma) responded to my submission today, which means…it’s time to log off and get some chocolate ice cream.

    On a funny note, I’d like ask if I can trademark the term “reg fee to infinity.” I wish the major marketplaces would use that on “Make Offer” names.

    “From Reg Fee to Infinity, and Beyond!!!” πŸ™‚

  23. “hence, an accurate valuation independent of budgets, trends or past sales is needed.”

    What is your basis of an appraisal of a domain then, if you are leaving out trends, past sales . . . and market liquidity?
    Trying to understand here.

    An appraisal means nothing if you can’t liquidate a domain somewhere near the appraised price.
    I understand that the market is dynamic and that it’s hard to predict what something will sell for in the future. I’m talking about today though. Think, recently bought over $100k, could get what they paid for that name if they turned it today?

  24. Adam – I said “independent of”, I did not discount past sales. As for market liquidity, that’s another big argument: when domain investors sell to eachother, that’s what is referred to as “liquidity” πŸ˜‰ There is no such lack of funds in the open market. I don’t understand why you seem to focus on the resale value of a domain that was clearly bought for development. What would be the worth of without its app?

    Incidentally, I find it ironic that I could not find the sale of on the very same site πŸ˜€

  25. Acro. I love discussions on values/appraisals and such, but I really am not following at all how you appraise domains. . . I’m trying to understand you here. Maybe you can write a post to explain it since it’s not coming through in your comments. Maybe it’d be easier if you did answer my questions. what are you using for your appraisal basis ?

    “I don’t understand why you seem to focus on the resale value of a domain that was clearly bought for development. What would be the worth of without its app?”

    So I can understand this, there’s a “resale value of a domain” and . . . . . ? a “development value” ?
    Again, trying to understand what you are talking about, not an argument so don’t get defensive.

    I can sort of see this logic as a domainers price names based on the person asking so we can carry that into an appraisal. .. “well, you’re building an app in a space that’s $1b+ and this name will help you get through the crowd” etc etc but is that value based on circumstances only ? Maybe I’m not following . Can you further explain to me why a name is being bought matters in your appraisals ? When you give an appraisal, about or whatever name, what exactly do you need to know to give that appraisal , other than the domain itself ?

    To answer your direct question : Prior to instagram becoming a successful company, the domain, by itself was worth $10. There is now some extra value in the domain because the company built a brand upon that name. If they sold it off today I’d imagine there’d be some buyers who would like that brand equity and inherent link traffic. If they sold it the day after they bought the name, they wouldn’t get their $10 back for a long long time, if ever.

    “Incidentally, I find it ironic that I could not find the sale of on the very same site. ”

    The sale of was not a pure domain sale thus we don’t have it recorded. The sale included IP, a website and data and was a private transaction. Same with any other “website” sale.

  26. Adam – My appraisal system is based on a series of parameters, some of which I’ve ‘disclosed’ in prior posts regarding what types of domains I buy and what is my methodology as the seller. You can view more here:

    Thank you for the clarification on NameBio; I only brought that up because only recently did I realize that you own it. πŸ™‚

  27. I bought it ages ago, well it seems like ages ago. I’ll try and look over the previous posts you made. Thanks

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