April 2012         DNJournal.com     The Domain Industry News Magazine

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Number of  Domain Sales Transactions Reported in 1Q-2012 Rises 15% From Previous Quarter But Total Dollar Volume Dips Slightly

We saw a lot of blog posts in the opening quarter of 2012 indicating that people felt domain aftermarket sales were on the upswing after being sluggish during a long recession in the general economy. So, we were curious to see what the actual numbers would show when we finished crunching the sales data we collected over the first three months of the new year. 

We've just done that and indeed the number of domain sales reported to us took a very healthy jump compared to the preceding quarter (4Q-2011). 4,306 transactions were reported to us in 1Q-2012, a healthy 15% more that the 3,754 we logged in the closing quarter of 2012. 

On the downside, the recession's effect on prices paid has not fully abated as the total dollar volume of sales reported fell 5.5% quarter over quarter. $22.4 million in sales across all extensions was reported in the most recent quarter after $23.7 million had been logged in 4Q-2011. The 1Q-2012 was also down by about the same amount vs. the same  quarter a year ago when $23.5 million in sales was reported. 

Hundreds image from Bigstock

When we look at total $ volumes we always like to check to see if any unusually large sales accounted for the difference between one quarter and another. They often do, and they did again in this instance - though the impact was not extreme this time. In 1Q-2012 the five biggest sales reported (led by PersonalLoans.com at $1 million) totaled $1.77 million. Even though the largest sale in 4Q-2011 was $700,000 (for VU.com), the top five in that quarter totaled $2.67 million, $900,000 more than in the latest quarter, accounting for two thirds of the $1.3 million lead 4Q-2011 had over 1Q-2012. 

The top five sales in the same quarter a year ago (led by another $1 million dollar sale in Dudu.com) totaled $2.18 million, $400,000 more than 1Q-2012, accounting for a little over a third of the advantage 1Q-2011 held over 1Q-2012. 

Domains image from Bigstock

Since dollar volumes are easily skewed by outlier sales we also like to keep track of median sales prices (the point at which half of all reported sales were higher and half were lower). Across all extensions, the median price reported to us in 1Q-2012 was exactly the same as in 1Q-2011 - $2,588 - and it was up 8% from the $2,379 median in 4Q-2011. 

Keep in mind that we do not track sales below four figures - to be specific we track .coms of $2,000 and up and all other extensions from $1,000 or more. As a result our median figures are higher than you will see in reports issued by major individual sales venues like Sedo and the AfternicDLS that include their entire universe of sales. 

The median numbers, along with the total dollar volume figures indicates that prices for the vast majority of domains that change hands have remained fairly stable over the past year. What we would all like to see now are rising prices to go along with the rising number of transactions. According to a new report from Sedo that is 

already happening. Sedo said the IDNX domain price index hit record highs for both prices and number of transactions recorded in March - obviously a very positive sign for the market.

To dig a little deeper we break out numbers for the categories we track in our popular weekly domain sales reports - .coms, ccTLDs and non com gTLDs. Looking at .coms only - the total dollar volume reported in 1Q-2012 was $15.2 million, down a little under 7% from the same quarter a year ago ($16.3 million) and off 13% from the $17.5 million reported in the preceding quarter (4Q-2011). However, the more telling median sales price figure for .coms in 1Q-2012 was exactly the same as 1Q-2011 - $3,000 - and down just 6% from the $3,188 posted in 4Q-2011. 

The ccTLDs were the only category whose total dollar volume figures in 1Q-2012 beat both the preceding quarter and the same quarter a year ago. $4.6 million in country code sales were reported to us in 1Q-2012 - a 15% jump from the $4 million reported in 4Q-2011 and a 7% gain over 1Q-2011. On the other hand median ccTLD prices were off a hair at $1,979. That was just 1% lower than then $2,000 number in 4Q-2011 and a little over 2% less than the $2,025 we saw a year ago in 1Q-2011. 

As has been the case for many years now, the non .com gTLDs had the lowest sales volume in terms of total dollars reported. The numbers for that group were a mixed bag. The $2.6 million in total sales reported in 1Q-2012 was down 10% from the $2.9 million reported in the same quarter a year ago, however that $2.6 million in the latest quarter represented an 18% jump from the $2.2 million reported in the last quarter (4Q-2011). The median 

Flags Globe image from Bigstock

numbers for the non .com gTLDs have remained stable over the past year. The 1Q-2012 median price of $1,769 was 1% better than the $1,750 logged in 1Q-2011 and 1% worse than the $1,788 we saw in $1,788 - a negligible difference on both counts. 

With the first lap of the 2012 sales race now complete we are looking forward to seeing how the rest of the year unfolds. We have all seen the reports in the mainstream business press indicating that things in the general economy may be getting better but it is still too early to pop the champagne as things could go either way. One thing we do know for certain though - the Internet is here to stay and domain names - regardless of quarterly price fluctuations - will continue to provide the foundation that every enterprise on the web is built on. That leaves owners of high quality domains in an enviable position indeed. 


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Ron Jackson

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