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analysis An Outsider Look at 4-Letter .COM Domain Names

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Do you invest in 4L .COM domain names?

  • This poll is still running and the standings may change.
  • No

    98 
    votes
    25.6%
  • Not currently, but looking to acquire some.

    82 
    votes
    21.4%
  • Yes, but only in speakable names.

    70 
    votes
    18.3%
  • Yes, both speakable and non-speakable names.

    133 
    votes
    34.7%
  • This poll is still running and the standings may change.

Among the most liquid domain names are 4L .com. Most of the time they can be readily resold to another domain investor for $100 or more. The best 4L .com domain names, those that are words, or at least speakable, or have a clear pattern of letters making them easily remembered, sell for high retail prices. But what about those 4L domain names that lack the ability to be pronounced? Even if they are liquid to other investors at the current time, are they good investments?

Many Famous 4-letter Brands

Many strong brands are made with only four letters: Acer, Asus, Avis, BenQ, Citi, Dell, Dior, Dole, eBay, Elle, ESPN, HSBC, Ford, Ikea, Jeep, KPMG, Lays, Lego, Lime, Lyft, Nike, Olay, Puma, Ritz, Sony, Uber, Visa, Xbox, and many others.

With the exception of the acronyms, like HSBC and KPMG, these are all speakable. A few, like BenQ or Xbox, have a letter plus speakable part, and are pronounced by saying the letter. These same characteristics hold for determining which 4L names potentially have high value.

Past Year Major 4L Sales of English Words

The 4L domain names that sell for the highest prices are usually English language words. Below is a selection of sales from the past 12 months. All data is from the NameBio database.
  • wolf $550,000
  • kick $276,077
  • bath $195,000
  • cope $138,000
  • cows $125,000
  • felt $74,750
  • worm $60,000
  • shun $57,504
  • leek $27,752
Not Only English Words

It turns out that 4L words in languages other than English can also can command strong prices. Here are some sales, again all from the past year.
  • bico $350,000
  • bodo $200,000
  • oder $100,000
  • joon $60,000
  • tuma $42,000
In some cases, these may have resulted in high prices simply because they are memorable and speakable, not necessarily related to their meaning in a language other than English. Proficiency in other languages may help domain investors spot high-value names that are missed by some.

Speakable Names Other Than Words

Speakable 4L .comdomain names that are not dictionary words often sell for almost as much. Here are some examples sold during the last year.
  • almi $117,500
  • melp $50,000
  • fewo $35,190
  • mout $32,000
  • adan $29,626
  • levo $28,500
  • yela $25,000
  • taaz $18,750
Many names in this category, but certainly not all, have the structure CVCV (consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel). You can readily search for sales with that pattern by entering CVCV, all capitals, in the Pattern box on NameBio, along with other limitations you desire such as Date Range. Here is a link to the 4L .com sales of names with the CVCV pattern during the past five years. The highest value sale recorded during that time was vivo.com that sold for $2.1 million in September 2016.

Patterns, Names And More

There have also been major sales in names that combine acronyms, names or other patterns. Here are a few examples from the past year.
  • UFOs $88,000
  • Abby $75,000
  • PMRC $58,000
  • GoFX $57,500
  • iFun $28,500
One of the most distinctive patterns is repetition of the same letter. Recently @redemo looked into current use of the 26 possibilities, finding that most are not in use.

Creative 4L Spellings

Sales of brandable 4L .com domain names that include a creative letter substitution can also result in major sales. Here are a few examples of sales in this category within the past 12 months.
  • fibr $75,000
  • newz $70,000
  • roze $68,000
  • skrt $50,000
Overall 4L .COM Domain Name Sales

Above I looked at a selection of major retail sales, but what about the overall market in 4L .com domain names? I was interested in whether the market has recently changed, so I used NameBio data to do a price distribution both for the past 12 months, and the annual average over the past 5 years. The results are shown below using the same scale to ease comparison.

ImageSalesPriceLastYearR.png


ImageSalesPrice5YrAverageLLLLr.png


In both graphs the strong majority are wholesale transactions. The data show that, as expected, very few 4L .com sell for less than $100, and many that did sell in that price range were only slightly below that price. You need a NameBio Membership Plan to access sales data below $100. Beyond that, the data seems to suggest that the last year has been slower than the average of the preceding five years, to some degree.

I also looked at sales restricted to certain venues (Sedo, BuyDomains, NamePull, Uniregistry, DomainMarket, Afternic) that are usually associated with retail sales. Using only these venues, during the past year there were 748 4L .comsales at these venues with an average sales price of $2441. Over the past 5 years at the same venues, there was an annual average of 468 sales per year, but at a higher average price of $5116. What we are probably seeing, though, is more wholesale acquisitions have been present in last year, accounting for a lower average price but more sales. Indeed, when I look through the Sedo list, many of the recent sales appear to be at wholesale levels.

How Are 4L .COM Domains Being Priced?

I used Dofo Advanced Search to investigate pricing on 4L .com domain names with buy-it-now prices, with results shown below. Dofo covers almost all of the domain marketplaces. There were 229,488 4L .com names for sale listed the day I checked.

ImageAskingPrice.png


Most are priced between $1000 and $50,000, with a concentration in the $10,000 to $50,000 range. For details on the methodology, or to see how this pricing compares with that for other types of domain names, see the article How Are Investors Pricing Their Domain Names?.

Searching Using ExpiredDomains

Probably the most comprehensive way to search for available names is to use ExpiredDomains.net. You can readily set the search for any .com domain name of length 4 and exclude numbers and hyphens, as well as additional criteria if desired. The Status List and Status columns show where the name is listed and the price or make offer status. Other columns provide a wealth of information on each name, including birth year, number of TLDs, number of related domain names, etc.

The ShortNames Site

I recently learned of the site ShortNames.com which includes a number of short numeric and letter patterns including LLLL .com domain names. As shown in screen capture below, the site lists popular and ending soon auctions, as well as fixed price listings and domains that are about to drop. They access sales on eBay as well as the standard domain name sites. The website also provides a nice summary of the number and dollar volume of sales during the preceding 30 days, and listing of some of the higher-value recent sales. It is an easy way to watch for trends in the 4L domain name space.

Image-ShortNamesScreen.png


Liquid Domain Sales at NamePros

NamePros has its own Liquid Domains section of the marketplace, that contains many 4L .com names for sale.

It’s The Numbers

Why do domain investors hold 4L domain names, even those that are not speakable, in relatively high regard? It is simply the finite supply of such domain names. If we exclude numbers and hyphens, as well as international characters, here are the numbers of domain names possible for various lengths.
  • 2L: 26x26=676
  • 3L: 26x26x26=17,576
  • 4L: 26x26x26x26=456,976
  • 5L: 26x26x26x26x26=11,881,376
The feeling is that with fewer than one-half million 4L domain names possible, eventually as the number of global businesses grow, it may become likely that some business will arise wanting any particular combination of letters. By comparison, OpenCorporates list about 190 million companies and organizations from 140 different jurisdictions. Of course, only a small subset of these would desire to name themselves on a 4L acronym.

The NamePros 4L Discussion

Over the years, NamePros has had numerous discussions on the topic of 4-letter domain names, including one recently started by @redemo entitled What’s The Value of LLLL.com?

In that discussion, @AEProgram makes the following summary:
The wholesale 4L market for meaningless names has not increased in years.The price of pronounceable 4Ls that pass the radio check and obviously 4L's with a real meaning continue to appreciate fast.
I would add that, just because there has been wholesale liquidity at the $100 range for essentially any 4L .com in recent years, that does not necessarily mean that will always be the case. The price and liquidity will be based on perceptions held by domain investors, and may go up or down, as we saw earlier with numbered domain names.

In the same discussion, @Recons.Com added this good advice:
Each 4L name has to be rigorously analyzed on its own merit, just like you'd do for 5L, 6L etc.
@BrandPlease posted a segment from a guide that he had written on 4L and short domain names. It is a nice introduction to premium and anti-premium letters, and to various structures in 4L domain names, like CVCV, VCCV and CVVC.

There is also discussion of the frequency of different letters, an important consideration. However, both @Recons.Com and @redemo pointed out that it is not simply the frequency of the letter in dictionary words, but also certain letters are more likely to be used as part of a business or organization name and matching 4L acronym. For example, C could stand for consortium, company, consultants, cooperative, club, etc. while A could represent associates, association, agency, agents, etc.

One potential market for seemingly random 4L .com could be in partnerships that name themselves after 3 or 4 partners. As such, an ending letter that is a common term like partnership, associates, limited, firm, consultants, etc. following 3 letters that are relatively common in surnames, is more likely to find use.

Have Your Say

I hope that you will share in the comments section your experiences and views on investing in 4L .com domain names. I used the word outsider in the title of this article, since I have not, yet, invested in 4L .com domain names personally. It is valuable to hear from those with direct experience.

Also, please vote in the associated poll.



Sincere thanks to @redemo for starting the recent NamePros thread on LLLL domain names, and for suggesting that I do an analysis of 4L .comdomain names. I would like to thank @Compassion for introducing me to the site ShortNames.com, that I had never used until recently.

A number of NamePros members made outstanding contributions in the discussion on the value of LLLL domain names. I would like to thank in particular @AEProgram, @Recons.Com, @HotKey, @Samer, @redemo and @BrandPlease.

Also, sincere thanks to the great databases and tools that we have in domain name investing. Among those consulted for this article are ExpiredDomain.net, NameBio, Dofo, and ShortNames.
 
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The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.

TERADOMAIN

QualityNames.comTop Member
Impact
12,214
Thanks BOB for sharing. I will dig into it and share few more things.
 
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Samer

Top Member
Impact
21,363
Bob, took a quick glance, and i am in “full bloom love.” My favorite niche.

Thank you. I will be adding good 4L words.
Started list, before this post; obligated share best LLLL.com developed ones, i found.

Samer
 
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Samer

Top Member
Impact
21,363
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lyman

Established Member
Impact
122
Thank you for the valuable and well organized information
 
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FolioTeam

Brandsq.comTop Member
Impact
6,923
Thanks for this. Your analysis was spot on.

A little typo here:

Not surprisingly, the majority are priced in the $1000 to $50,000 range.
 
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Samer

Top Member
Impact
21,363
SO VERSATILE!! ACRONYM COUNTS!!
IBKR.com (interactive Broker
GOAT.com (Greatest of all time)

All developed and fully operational.
 
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FolioTeam

Brandsq.comTop Member
Impact
6,923
I used the word outsider in the title of this article, since I have not, yet, invested in 4L .com domain names personally
Lol. It shows. Especially, how you kept using "Speakable" instead of the more popular jargon, "Pronounceable"
 
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Impact
34,334
AMZN.com (Amazon stock; NOT a redirect!!)
TSMC.com (Chip semiconductor conglomerate
Yes, had wondered about 4L and corporate stock symbols. Do they sell sometimes?
Also radio station call letters probably in demand, if in position no TM issue.
 
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Samer

Top Member
Impact
21,363
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Avijit Roy

Top Member
Impact
4,845
Really interesting article...Thanks for writing...
 
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The Durfer

Wesley SweatmanTop Member
Impact
16,661
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Very informative article Mr B. Thank you
So my BUNH.com won't be worth that much then?
 
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Yes, had wondered about 4L and corporate stock symbols. Do they sell sometimes?
Also radio station call letters probably in demand, if in position no TM issue.

Regional radio and TV stations just don't have the vision or the budget for 4L .com domains. I have tried and failed there.

Stock tickers always made sense to me for investor microsites but again the sales don't come freely.
 
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DuDD

Top Member
Impact
1,978
  • Chinese enterprises also use 4L a lot
 
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DuDD

Top Member
Impact
1,978
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Mister Funsky

Top Member
Impact
24,214
Great article and info...thanks Bob!
 
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Haroon Basha

Service.xyzTop Member
Impact
7,460
Thank you very ]much Sir @Bob Hawkes
Being a avid trader of 4 letter dot com names, I find your article very informative, useful and highly commendable. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
 
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marijuanadomain

Established Member
Impact
550
I bought these 4L domains at $15 each years ago at namepros from someone who called him/herself a domain expert/investor --yea and who is laughing all the way to the bank now.

gxnx.com
kvlp.com
llyu.com
vhvk.com
wzwi.com
zmmr.com

www.squarely.com
 
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StarEarth15

Established Member
Impact
33
Very informative article Mr B. Thank you
So my BUNH.com won't be worth that much then?
Here r few possible abbreviations;
* B: Buy, Bet, By, Best, Bright...
* U: Us, United, Use, Unique, Up.....
* N: National, Natural, Nice, New..
* H: Home, House, Human, Hot, High, Healthy...
=> Buy Us New Home ...... and many more options

Hope this could help you to come up with great initialisms :)
 
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StarEarth15

Established Member
Impact
33
Thanks Bob. Great tips included 🙏

I think the most important before buying we have to think if we can come up with many initialisms from that domain name.
Otherwise, its very important to be easy to spell even its not speakable.

Good luck to everyone
 
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redemo

Mug RuithTop Member
Impact
2,454
GOAT.com (Greatest of all time)

@Samer you are a legend. Some people use "goat" as a cuss world in good ole Blighty. "Come on, you old goat!" they jab. Now there's a snarky reply. "GOAT? What, greatest of all time?"
 
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redemo

Mug RuithTop Member
Impact
2,454
Question @Bob Hawkes. You've got egxb com listed at ebay for $ 25 fixed price (buy now?). Is that a legit and sensible platform to do business on? I mean $ 25 doesn't seem much for a 4 letter com whatever the letter combination so I'd be seriously wary. Or is it all halal with our man Jamal in Nepal?
 
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redemo

Mug RuithTop Member
Impact
2,454
I knew it was a dodgy listing from the get-go. Click on egxb.com takes you to a different auction for etmie.com. Jamal was right. Always trust your instincts. :watching:
 
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Domaining Ocean

Top Member
Impact
514
Thanks for the detailed Insights, Bob. We're responsible for FIBR.com's sell last year representing the seller.
 
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