When you are considering a domain name acquisition, does it matter who owned the name previously, what price they asked, and the marketplaces they used to try to sell the domain name? We all know to check for possible developed use of a domain name, in case there was abuse that taints the name, but is it also important to check the history of names that were never developed? Why Is This Domain Being Dropped? There are many critics of domain name hand registration, making the point that if a domain name has not been held, by any of the huge number of domain investors, in most cases it is probably not that valuable. But what about a name that has been in investor hands, but that investor has now decided to let it go. Could we not consider the fact that it did not sell, even though actively for sale, as a negative as well? In some cases the name may simply be dropped because the domain investor is concentrating on fewer names, has a cash flow problem, or is getting out of the business. However, the drop may signify that the previous owner has not received offers or many lander visits, or they view the sector or style of the name as dropping in popularity. Unless you happen to know the previous owner personally, it is probably impossible to know the situation. But one can speculate on issues such as trends in that sector. Of course, if you are considering a name being sold here on NamePros, or an external link to a sale posted by a member, you can direct message them to see if they will share their reasons for letting the name go. At What Price Was The Name Listed? Key questions as you evaluate whether you are likely to have higher prospects of selling a domain name, are where the name was previously listed for sale, whether it had a buy-it-now price, and what that price was. If the name was listed at what you consider an unreasonably high price, then it is logical to assume a buyer might come along at the lower price you have in mind. On the other hand, if it was already recently listed at a very low price, and still did not sell, that is a different situation. Quite often you can see where a name was listed, and the buy-it-now price, simply by searching the name on Dofo. I find there is a lag, so even if the name is no longer actively listed, the prices may still show on Dofo. If that does not work, the Wayback Machine Web Archive will show recent lander content for the name, allowing you to track price changes over recent months or years in most cases, as well as see what lander was used. If a name has no history on the Wayback Machine, that may mean there was no active lander, valuable information to know. Paid services, such as DomainIQ, can, in some cases, show other names held and provide information on the previous owner, although, with most domain names now under privacy restrictions, this is becoming more difficult. HosterStats: DNS History Tool Perhaps the most helpful, and free, tool to use is HosterStats, developed and managed by NamePros member @jmcc. HosterStats shows all the creations and deletions for a domain name since year 2000, and also the various DNS settings the domain name has used. This will tell you which marketplaces it was listed on, or if used for parking services. HosterStats covers .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info, .mobi, .asia, .ie, .eu, .co.uk, .de, and the new gTLD extensions. You will be able to see if a searched domain name used Afternic, Dan or Sedo nameservers, or those of some other marketplace, or a service such as Efty. Views vary on the relative conversion efficiency of different lander options, but at the very least it is valuable to know what marketplace lander was used in the past. A Big Company Held This Name HosterStats records may indicate that a previous owner was one of the big players such as Huge Domains, Domain Market or Buy Domains. So, is that a positive, indicating that a successful major player in the domain world saw value in this name? Or, is it a possible negative, in that they have now decided the domain name is not worth keeping? What About Many Drops? For some domain names, the HosterStats record will show that the name has been deleted, and recreated, multiple times. I had not considered the view until I read it in @jmcc book Domnomics, that multiple people independently creating a name could be viewed as one measure of value. Do you feel that it is more important that one investor held the name for many years, or many different people independently acquired the name? Where Is This Name Optimally Listed? It is probably true that different names sell better at different marketplaces. For example, a name that is clearly brandable may benefit from a listing on one of the brandable marketplaces. Perhaps some names benefit more from payment plan options than others. Not all marketplaces yet offer payment options. The regional acceptance of the three big general purpose marketplaces is probably different, and some names naturally appeal more to certain regions. There are other factors to take into account. If you feel a name is best presented with a logo, some marketplaces present names in that way, and some do not. If it is a long, multiple-word domain name, it may be difficult to effectively present without Camel casing, and not all landers support that. Some businesses are alert for branding story ideas that can be used with a name. There may be information, such as meaning in a foreign language or the Latin root of the word, that may help promote the name. If the name is listed on a platform that does not allow domain name descriptions, this information can not be presented. Simply, some names may sell better at a different marketplace than the one that was used for multiple years by the previous owner. Some Personal Thoughts Lately, when I consider a name I usually use HosterStats to look at its hosting history. Ideally, I prefer a name that has been held for numerous years, but don’t strongly prefer held by one investor over several. The most important factor to me is seeing a possible listing advantage I may have compared to the previous listing. So I tend to prefer names that, in my opinion, have not been listed in an optimized way, or have had unreasonable pricing. If I feel a name is suited to buy-it-now pricing, but seems to always have had make offer in the past, that suggests I might have success even though the name has not sold previously. I took a visual look at some lander options in a previous NamePros Blog post, and also followed it up with some questions to possibly consider when choosing a lander style. Even though I have started considering how previous owners priced and displayed the domain name, still the most important questions are who could use this name, and the quality of the name itself. I covered some questions to ask as you consider acquisitions, and this NamePros Blog post on free tools for domain name research is also relevant. It should be stressed that a name being listed even for ten years or more, and not selling, is simply the norm in an environment where the retail sell-through rate is typically 1 to 2% per year. What Do You Think? I have posed many questions above, and hope readers will provide their perspectives in the comments section. Here are some of the main questions all in one place. Do you routinely check out landers and marketplaces a name has used in the recent past? Do you try to determine the recent listing price? If the previous owner was a major company, do you regard that as positive or negative? If one domain name was held for 10 years by one investor, and another was allowed to lapse and be recreated by 5 different investors, which is more generally indicative of quality? Are you concerned if a name was effectively listed for many years, but still has not sold? Do you list most of your names at the same marketplace, and with the same lander service, or do you mix it up? In addition to the tools mentioned, what do you use in your research on previous owners and listing of a name? Hats off to @jmcc for building, and maintaining over more than two decades, HosterStats, and keeping it a free tool that we all can use.