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Is There Money in Fresh Domain Name Registrations?

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Can you buy a domain name today and flip it for a million bucks? It's a common notion that domain names are easy money and million dollar sales are always the first domain name sales cited. However, experts intuitively know this is misleading but perhaps nobody has really looked closely. Taking the top ~94 sales off namebio (excluded a few .de/.no/.at and a couple that were dropped since being purchased back in pre-2000 bubble) and looking at registration date and comparing to sales price was very interesting.

Next, I BIN'd total dollars in sales in each year and did a simple linear regression:

The results are telling. There are only 2 sales in the 500k range that were registered post-2000. and (*Note: this didn't actually sell, thanks to Adam Strong for first making me aware of this). The first makes sense as a new huge technology hit. The second is a huge speculative play. Every other domain that has publicly fetched over 500k was registered a long time ago. So there are two explanations that are reasonable:
1. All the *REALLY* good domains are taken, and have been for years.
2. The fresh registrations that are fetching big dollars aren't publicly reported and it's some new registration conspiracy.

Anyone who knows me knows that I hate the conspiracy theory garbage, so that leaves only one reasonable explanation. So, I decided to investigate further, maybe $500,000 is too low to see any real results. I went down to all sales over $100,000 (and a few in high $9x,xxx range. I removed non Com/net/org/uk names because my parsing software doesn't handle them (sorry .mobi, .de who were the ones that were removed most).

Now, this is the most interesting graph of the entire analysis. There are 361 samples that fit the >$100,000 criteria and this shows distribution in terms of year and price. What is immediately obvious is the following:
1. The best domains were registered in the 90's in general.
2. There is some opportunity in more newly registered domains, but it is minuscule compared to older registrations.
3. Hand hand-registrations selling for even $100,000 isn't happening.

Upon inspection of the newest domains fetching high prices, the top one in 2008 was, an expired name. A couple others were drops from the 2000 bubble being re-registered.

In conclusion, purchasing a domain by hand (not registered right now) and selling for even $100,000 just simply doesn't happen. I am sure there will be a couple exceptions over the years, but anyone who reasonably thinks they are hand-registering 'the next big thing' will almost certainly be wrong and would be better off with a lottery ticket according to these results. The only real chance at a big sale is new TLDs it seems or buying older domains at a good price and reselling it. So anyone considering getting into domain names to become rich over night, should not. Save your money, educate yourself, learn some useful skills (think web development skills: html, php, mysql, seo), your chances at being successful and increasing your net worth are more likely to increase with hard work and knowledge than speculation.

Special thanks to NameThink for asking this question at DomainState and giving me the inspiration to do this research.

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