April-June 2014      DNJournal.com      The Domain Industry News Magazine

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Dramatic Comeback for Domain Sales Reached a Crescendo With Huge Gains in 1Q-2014

After a long, debilitating recession sales in the domain aftermarket finally started a comeback in 2013 with total $ sales volume for that year scoring a double digit gain, coming in 13% higher than 2012 sales. The rally continued with some astounding gains in the first quarter of 2014 and after quarters 2 and 3, sales are still running far ahead of where they were at the same point last year.

I will break down each quarter of 2014 to date for you in a series of three newsletters that will be released before I head out next week for the 10th anniversary T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference that gets underway Thursday, October 30 in Miami Beach 

2014 image from Bigstock

(in addition to covering the conference, I will be speaking there about the aftermarket trends I am going to be telling you about in this series).

In this first installment I will give you a closer look at the sales surge we saw in 1Q-2014. In the next one I will detail what happened in 2Q-2014 and in the third one I will analyze the most recent quarter - 3Q-2014.   

As always I will look at several metrics including the total $ amount of sales reported to us (both as a group covering all extensions and by category, breaking the group down into .com only sales, ccTLD sales and non .com gTLD sales). We will also look at median sales prices in the same groupings. 

These numbers are based on sales reported to us by the leading sales venues and private buyers and sellers for our popular weekly domain sales report that comes out on Wednesday evenings. While publicly reported sales represent only a fraction of the overall market, the tens of millions of dollars worth of sales we have access to give us a large enough sample to get some valuable  insight into market trends. 

Also note that, in order to keep our weekly reports at a manageable length, we do not track sales below four figures (to be specific, we track .com sales of $2,000 and up and all other TLDs from $1,000 and up). Numbers for total $ volume would be higher if we also tracked the lowest end of the market and conversely median prices would be lower. However, since starting our tracking of the domain aftermarket in 2003 we have always used the same parameters so our comparisons continue to compare "apples to apples."

Sales image from Bigstock

Having set the stage, let's now look at domain sales results from 1Q-2014, a quarter that showed the biggest year over gains we have seen since we started tracking sales well over a decade ago. The total $ volume of sales reported to us across all extensions in 1Q-2014 was $32 million, a stunning 47% increase over the $21.8 million reported in the same quarter of 2013 (it was also 19% higher than the previous quarter 4Q-2013, when $26.9 million in sales were recorded). 

1Q-2014 also saw the return of high end sales, further evidence that the severe recession was receding into history. The blockbusters closed in the opening quarter included Whisky.com at $3.1 million, 37.com at $2.43 

million, Youxi.com - also at $2.43 million, 100.com at $950,000 and WAN.com at $800,000. Another impressive thing about 1Q-2014 was that the $ volume went up dramatically even though the number of transactions reported went down by 10%! That means average selling prices were higher and also indicates the recession era fire sales were tapering off as fewer quality names were offered.

While the numbers for the market as a whole were very good, the numbers for .coms alone were even better. The $25.7 million in .com sales reported to us in 1Q-2014 was a whopping 60% jump over the $16.1 million reported a year earlier (1Q-2013). It was also a 21% rise from the $21.2 million reported in the previous quarter (4Q-2013).

The .coms were not the only ones kicking butt either. The ccTLDs also had outstanding gains. The $4.6 million in reported 1Q-2014 country code sales was 31% higher than in the same quarter a year earlier and 28% better that the prior quarter (4Q-2013). The ccTLDs benefited from a big surge in Chinese domain sales - in fact the quarter's seven biggest sales were all Chinese .CN domains, led by Game.cn at $512,307 and WAN.cn at $247,830
The only group that did not benefit from the market boom was the non .com gTLDs (which include .net, .org, .info, .biz, etc). Just $1.7 million in sales were reported in that category, a 23% drop from the $2.2 million reported in 1Q-2013 and 19% less than the $2.1 million reported in the previous quarter (4Q-2013). We think that this setback may have been due to the impending arrival to market of the first new gTLDs. Since these new extensions are all non .com gTLDs, they present a flood of new competition for the existing TLDs in this group. So, buyers may have decided to sit back while they see how this is all going to play out (in our next two newsletters covering 2Q and 3Q of 2014 you will see how this picture evolved as the year went along).

Now let's look at median sales prices - the point at which half of all sales were higher and 

half were lower. This can be a more accurate gauge of market trends because the median isn't skewed by a few outlier blockbuster sales. With the opposing force of so many sales above it and so many below, it is a difficult needle to move so changes in median prices tend to be quite small - typically just a percentage point or two in either direction. Still, median prices were up significantly across the board year over year.

Across all TLDs the median price of sales reported to us was up 10.4% in 1Q-2014 compared to 1Q-2013, a very big number for median price movement. The $2,970 median in 1Q-2014 was also 2.4% higher than the previous quarter (4Q-2013) when the rebound from the recession was already well underway.

When you look at .com only, the median price jumped 6.5% year over year to $3,301. the ccTLDs also saw healthy gains with the 1Q-2014 median of $2,000 representing a 3.3% rise year over year and 2.1% above the previous quarter. Even the non .com gTLDs, which fared so poorly in total $ volume results, enjoyed higher median prices. At $1,999 their number was up an  impressive 11% year over year though almost unchanged (up 0.2%) from the previous quarter (4Q-2013).

1Q-2014 clearly set a high bar for the rest of the year. In our next installment of this series we will dissect 2Q-2014 to see how the market followed such a bang up opening quarter. 

*****

 

 

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