In a move to further offer consumers a trusted, valued source for real estate on the Internet, and thereby strengthen the REALTOR® brand, the National Association of REALTORS®’ (NAR) top-level domain (TLD) .REALTOR will be available to local and state REALTOR® associations as well as brokerages in the U.S. and Canada starting May 7.
According to Bob Goldberg, NAR SVP of Marketing, Business Development and Member Benefits, brokers who sign up for the .REALTOR domain will be “pinged against the NRDS database, or the CREA database in Canada, to validate their identity and that they are a current member. A .REALTOR web address is an opportunity to tell consumers that if someone has a .REALTOR domain, they are a member in good standing who abides by the Code of Ethics of the NAR or CREA. Consumers over time will know that if they’re on a .REALTOR domain, they’re working with a REALTOR®, a trusted real estate resource.”
NAR was one of the first associations approved to offer a top-level domain and among the first in the real estate industry to commit to this new technology. Since the .REALTOR top-level domain became available to NAR members in October 2014, some 96,000 domains have been claimed. Now boards, associations and brokerages will have the opportunity to register for the domain, which lets consumers instantly know that they are working within the REALTOR® community.
“Early adoption of new technology is a vital part of how REALTORS® conduct business, and NAR is committed to staying on the forefront of the latest online tools,” says NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark. “We hope associations and brokerages can take advantage of the .REALTOR domain to create an online space where homebuyers, sellers and investors, as well as REALTORS®, can go to find the most trustworthy, reliable real estate services and resources.”
Developing the offering for brokers required more planning to ensure the broker was protected. “We had to better understand how the brokerage community would be able to use their .REALTOR domain,” explains Goldberg. “With the brokerage, we had to look at what’s the name of the legal entity doing business in the industry; how do we make sure that the consumer knows it’s a trusted source? And, how do the franchises allow their brands to be used with other TLDs that they’ve been using forever? We had to build the business rules into the system so that brokerages were protected.”
According to Ken Burlington, vice president, NAR Strategic Alliances and Product Management, and COO, REALTORS® Information Network, the designated REALTOR® for each office is the only ID that can claim the brokerage domain for that firm. “They will be asked to verify when they sign onto the system that they are who they say they are, and only they can claim the TLD,” he explains. “Today, individual members can incorporate their brokerage name into their .REALTOR domain, provided the member’s name is immediately to the left of the dot. However, starting May 7, brokerage firms can claim just their company name immediately to the left of the dot.”
Similarly, only the association executive who has a special NRDS ID will be able to claim a domain for their association, using either the association’s full name or an acronym. The annual fee for association .REALTOR domains is $99. Associations who have completed the Association .REALTOR Marketing Program by April 30 will receive a free .REALTOR domain for up to five years and priority registration, 24 hours, to claim in advance of the launch. NAR has also entered into an exclusive marketing partnership with the Canadian Real Estate Association, the exclusive licensors of the Realtor® mark in Canada. CREA associations and boards will also be able to use the domain to provide consumers in Canada with the same advantages.
The annual price for brokers to secure a .REALTOR domain is $79. If purchased within the first 60 days, they can buy the domain for $39.50. Brokers can also receive multi-year and multiple domain discounts up to ten years, says Burlington. “We also have bulk pricing available upon request for brokerage firms and members affiliated with that firm.”
NAR also plans to roll out the .realestate TLD to members later this year. “We feel extremely fortunate that we were able to secure the .REALTOR and .realestate TLDs,” says Goldberg. “We will launch .realestate later this year. We will give our members the first opportunity at getting .realestate when it’s ready. Those members who have purchased a .REALTOR domain will receive priority registration for .realestate when it becomes available.”
As the Internet begins to evolve and divide into industry-specific categories, NAR believes it’s important for the REALTOR® community to lead the industry and create an exclusive namespace for itself that consumers instantly recognize. According to The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization that coordinates domains and Internet Protocol addresses around the world, the .REALTOR domain is the eighth largest-growing domain. According to Goldberg, many members have bought multiple TLDs, citing one REALTOR® who bought 50.
“There are a lot of people today called ‘domainers’ who look to buy domain names and shelve them,” says Tom Embrescia, chairman of Second Generation subsidiary Real Estate Domains, LLC, an investment firm and registry operator for the top-level domain .jobs, who worked with Goldberg and his team for some eight years to secure the .REALTOR and .realestate TLDs. “Of all the .com names that exist, about half of them don’t get utilized. On the other hand, .REALTOR is the most-used TLD of all the new TLDs that have launched up until now. NAR is the PhD, MBA and CPA of real estate. And like them, REALTORS® need to separate themselves from all the others working in real estate.”
According to Embrescia, there are currently over 250 million URLs in existence, moving to 500 million in three to five years. “The REALTOR® Community needs to separate themselves, or they will become generic online.”
For more information on.REALTOR domains, visit www.about.REALTOR. To claim .REALTOR domains, which are available to associations and brokerages starting May 7 at 10 a.m. CD T, go to www.claim.REALTOR.