The National Association of Realtors is ready to give away 500,000 free “.realtor” domains to members, and realtor.com will host agents’ profile pages for them at no charge. But nearly a month after NAR opened up the .realtor domain rush, only about 5 percent of the trade group’s 1 million members have claimed their own free, custom URL.
NAR opened up “priority registrations” for members to stake claims to .realtor domains a year ago, and started issuing them on Oct. 23. Members can sign up for more than one .realtor domain, but must pay a domain fee for the extras, which is $39.95 per year per domain.
All told, almost 50,000 Realtors have claimed a free domain, and more than 85,000 .realtor sites have been registered, according to NAR spokeswoman Sara Wiskerchen.
While NAR still has 450,000 free domains to give away, .realtor is already the fourth most popular new “generic top-level” domain approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, according to Domain Name Wire.
Those who obtain .realtor domains must follow business rules set out by NAR, which, among other requirements, dictate that members’ first, last or full names must be part of the domain.
Those restrictions — and the lack of appeal of a website address tied to an agent’s name, rather than a .com address attached to a geographic location — prompted St. Paul, Minnesota, broker and Inman columnist Teresa Boardman to pass.
“I think I’ll just stick with my .com domains,” Boardman wrote last month. “I can have domain names like StPaulRealEstateBlog.com and StPaulCondolife.com and StPaulPhotos.com and several others that don’t include my name, or the words sell or sold. The domain names are more about real estate, not about me.”
But Bryn Kaufman, principal broker and creator of OahuRE.com, thinks that if enough Realtors create agent profile pages with .realtor domains, that could turn Google into a powerful tool for consumers to track down local agents.
“Most likely, the [agents] with the most closed sales, the most reviews, and that have been around the longest will come up on Page 1″ of Google search results, Kaufman wrote on the GeekEstate blog.
Until recently, top-level domains had been restricted to a handful of familiar domains like “.com,” “.net” and “.org.” But since ICANN began allowing firms to apply to manage new domains, .realtor is one of hundreds that are coming online.
As NAR made clear in applying to ICANN to create and manage the new domain, registration of .realtor domains will be restricted to members of NAR and the Canadian Real Estate Association.
NAR is making .realtor domains free for one year for the first 500,000 of its more than 1 million members who sign up. CREA is offering .realtor domains free for a year to the first 10,000 members who claim their domain.
GIF of a new realtor.com agent profile page, which is tied to a .realtor domain.
Those who get a .realtor domain can attach it to any site, but NAR makes it easy for members to direct it to their realtor.com profile pages, which are free.
During the .realtor claim process, NAR prompts its members to select one of three options for each domain they register, Wiskerchen said. They can choose to attach the domain to their free realtor.com profile website, to redirect the domain to an existing Web address or to use the .realtor domain as the primary Web address for a hosted site.
“If they (choose the realtor.com profile), they’ll receive an email with instructions to activate their profile site and direct their .realtor domain there,” Wiskerchen said. Members can change up how their domain works at any time by logging back into the system on NAR, she said.
Once members tie their .realtor domain to the realtor.com profile page, content from their blogs and social media will begin automatically showing up on the profiles, according to a video on NAR’s site describing the .realtor claim process. The profiles will also showcase the Realtors’ realtor.com listings, showings and closed transactions as well as client recommendations.
Realtor.com teased the new version of its agent profiles back in May, but has yet to formally announce the new profiles. An agent’s listing data would only show up on the profile with the agent’s permission, realtor.com’s senior director of product management, Ernie Graham, told Inman at the time.
NAR member Cinthia Ane chose to tie her .realtor domain to her realtor.com profile. See it here.
In conjunction with the rollout of the .realtor domain, NAR partnered with website developer Placester to give members with a .realtor domain six months of free hosting and a free website design, Wiskerchen said.
Currently, just brokers and agents can sign up for .realtor accounts, but beginning in 2015 NAR will begin allowing Realtor organizations such as state and local Realtor associations, association multiple listing services, affiliated institutes, societies and councils, and NAR strategic business partners to register a .realtor domain.
MLSs and associations that help promote the .realtor domain to their members will be eligible to receive a free .realtor domain for up to five years. An application form for MLSs and associations, available now, details marketing requirements.
In October, NAR won the right to manage the .realestate top-level domain. Details and pricing of the new domain are expected in the second quarter of 2015.
The domain .homes has been assigned to DERHomes LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dominion Enterprises, which owns Homes.com and ForRent.com, among many other brands.