NameSilo

strategy Finding Domain Name Comparator Sales – Part 1

Spaceship Spaceship
An important skill is to find and evaluate relevant domain name comparator sales. This article uses NameBio to search for comparator sales information, along with a process to decide what is a strong comparator. I also consider how to adjust prices from comparator sales that are some years in the past.

Why Comparator Sales?

Let’s start with some reasons why you might want to get comparator sales data.
  1. A key reason to seek domain name retail comparator sales is to help set the retail price for a domain name.
  2. But comparators can also be helpful at the acquisition stage. Here you may be seeking wholesale comparator sales, to see what others have paid when acquiring similar names. This can provide guidance regarding maximum auction bid price for a name, for example. Of course just because someone has paid a certain price in the past does not necessarily mean it was wise or you should pay a similar wholesale price.
  3. A third possibility is when you are in negotiation and the potential buyer has asked you to justify your asking price.
Note that in the first and third you are seeking retail comparators, while the middle involves primarily wholesale comparators, although even in that case retail prices can be important information.

Characteristics of a Good Comparator

In deciding if a previous sale is relevant, one needs to look at:
  • Are you confident that the sales information is correct?
  • Are the names very similar? While each domain name is unique, some names are similar enough that they can be used as comparator sales. But a sale in a different extension, or a misspelled version, will not be relevant comparators, in most cases.
  • Domain name prices change over time, so it is important, in most cases, to use comparator sales that are relatively recent. However, I will argue below there are cases when older sales can be helpful comparators, as long as prices are adjusted to current values.
  • Be clear on whether you are seeking wholesale or retail comparator sales. Both can be helpful, but they are not interchangeable.
Trusted Sales Data

I think most in the community agree that sales posted on NameBio and/or DNJournal are trustworthy. Both Michael and Ron take collating domain sales very seriously, and require verification. In the cases of high-value sales, they sometimes require additional proof.

Your personal sales, whether reported to NameBio or not, are of course a trusted and important source of data. Also, sales from trusted friends and colleagues can expand the pool.

There is a developing, and in my opinion unfortunate, trend for more investors to report sales on social media, especially X, in many cases never submitting the sales report to NameBio. While no doubt many of these sales are correctly reported, they are missing the third party validation. Yes, there is an aggregating service that collect many of these sales, but fundamentally they are still not fully verified sales.

NamePros has a section Report Completed Domain Name Sales Here. While verification is not at the level of NameBio, in most cases sellers provide a screen capture to support the sale, or indicate that the sale has already been verified at NameBio. While there is no easy way to search this data, it does provide additional sales data.

Since NameBio has such a powerful user interface, and such an extensive collection of sales, about 5 million sales with a total volume above $2.7 billion, the rest of this article will concentrate only on sales data from NameBio.

Search NameBio by Keyword

The most obvious way to seek comparator sales is to search for sales that use the keyword. As an example, let’s say I am seeking comparator sales with the keyword agent. Depending on the name, you might want to consider other TLDs, but I am going to restrict my search using the Extension setting to .com. For now, I am not going to set other limits like Venue, Price Range, or Domain Length.

The Placement selection box at NameBio has the following choices:
  • Anywhere will return all sales with the term agent is anywhere in the name. In this case it showed 712 sales. If you don’t have a membership, you will only be able to see the first few.
  • At the Start and At the End mean what you would think. There were 162 sales with agent at the start, and 292 with the term at the end. This might be indicative that a placement with the term at the end is better for this word. As well as number of sales, look at sales volume by scrolling down. When the term was at the end, the dollar volume was just over $440,000, and when at the start just over $285,000.
  • There is also an In the Middle setting. In this case the sale must have letters before and after the term agent. Often this is words, in three-word, or longer, names like ‘TravelAgentUniversity’, but it can also be a brandable term like ‘magentix’.
  • The Exact setting only returns sales where the term is only agent in my example. Since I have restricted my search to .com, and there is no sale of agent.com in the database, I get a null result. If I turn off the .com filter, NameBio shows me that there are 10 recorded sales for the exact word agent.
  • It is important to be clear on the difference between the As a Prefix setting and At the Start. For the term agent, and restricted to .com only, As a Prefix returns 109 sales whereas At the Start gave 162. The reason there are fewer is because in the prefix setting what follows must be a word, or set of words, whereas at the start simply means something follows. For example, there was a major sale of the term ‘agentive’ in 2022. This appears in the At the Start list, but not in the As a Prefix list since ‘ive’ is not a word. A sale like ‘AgentWorkplace’ will show in both lists.
  • As a Suffix works in a corresponding fashion, and for this term produced 169 sales, compared to the 292 when we earlier used At the End.
Type of Name Being Matched

It is important when seeking comparators to be clear on the type of name under consideration. For example, is it a two word name with ‘agent’ at the end, or a made-up brandable that includes the term, or something else.

While you might consider comparators with a different structure, the best comparators will have a similar structure.

Make a Comparator List

If you have a membership at NameBio, so not restricted in results list, I generally prefer to go through a longer set of sales, deciding myself which ones are relevant comparators. I will demonstrate the process with a specific search I did during the last week.

I was looking for comparators for a made-up brandable .com that starts with the word ‘agent’. My name is 7-letter, 4-syllable structure, so I used NameBio Starts With option, and limited length from 7 to 10 letters, since the term ‘agent’ itself had 5 letters.

I ordered the results with highest price first, and went through the list to pick out the made up brandables, obtaining the list shown below. I have for privacy to the owners and sellers left out the names from the table, instead using letters A, B, etc., but it is easy to use NameBio to find that information if you find it essential. So I put together this list of possible comparator sales.

name
comp?
price
adjusted
date
venue
letters
syllables
A​
N​
$65,000​
2022​
private​
8​
3​
B​
Y​
$13,346​
$13,880​
2022​
Sedo​
7​
3​
C​
Y​
$11,371​
$11,371​
2023​
Sedo​
8​
4​
D​
Y​
$3,788​
$6,818​
2008​
Afternic​
8​
3​
E​
Y​
$3,380​
$3,380​
2023​
BuyDomains​
8​
3​
F​
N​
$2,700​
2024​
Namejet​
7​
3​
G​
Y​
$1,888​
$1,888​
2023​
BuyDomains​
8​
4​
H​
Y​
$1,700​
$2,720​
2011​
Sedo​
7​
3​
I​
N​
$1,000​
2017​
GoDaddy​
6​
3​
J​
N​
$904​
2017​
GoDaddy​
7​
3-4​
K​
N​
$636​
2023​
GoDaddy​
9​
4​

I excluded the three sales at GoDaddy as almost certainly wholesale. The sale at NameJet is not that different in price from retail sales, but I excluded that as well.

After some consideration, I excluded the highest value sale. It was a private sale from a super successful experienced seller. He tends to get strong prices, and it seemed to me his sales are not really valid comparators for a name I would sell through a marketplace.

That left me with 6 comparators, but two of them were from some time ago, so the prices were no longer comparable.

While it could be argued these older sales should be excluded. I wondered instead about keeping them, but applying a price increase factor for the time since the sale – I show that in the ‘adjusted’ column. See the details in the next section.

My retail comparators range in adjusted price from $1888 to $13,880. The mean is $6676, but with so few data points, and a lot of spread, the standard deviation is almost as much, $4968. This suggests that the right retail price might be as low as about $1700 or as high as roughly $11,600. Yes, I do realize I am taking liberties with the interpretation of the standard deviation.

By the way, I don’t normally do this amount of work, and it is probably not reasonable to do this level of detail on many names within your portfolio. I thought running through one in detail indicates how challenging it is to get many good comparators, and the large range in prices.

The final price depends on the skill of the seller, and the desire of the buyer for this particular name, as well as other factors.

Price Changes Over Time

In certain types of names, such as .ai extension names, it is certainly not reasonable to extrapolate pricing from many years ago. However, for standard multiple-word .com, or term-based brandable .com, it can probably be argued that prices have generally gone up over the years in a somewhat systematic fashion. In the table below I scale 100 by compounding annual increases of 2%, 4%, 6% and 8% for a period of 20 years.

years
2% pa
4% pa
6% pa
8% pa
0
100.0​
100.0​
100.0​
100.0​
1
102.0​
104.0​
106.0​
108.0​
2
104.0​
108.2​
112.4​
116.6​
3
106.1​
112.5​
119.1​
126.0​
4
108.2​
117.0​
126.2​
136.0​
5
110.4​
121.7​
133.8​
146.9​
6
112.6​
126.5​
141.9​
158.7​
7
114.9​
131.6​
150.4​
171.4​
8
117.2​
136.9​
159.4​
185.1​
9
119.5​
142.3​
168.9​
199.9​
10
121.9​
148.0​
179.1​
215.9​
11
124.3​
153.9​
189.8​
233.2​
12
126.8​
160.1​
201.2​
251.8​
13
129.4​
166.5​
213.3​
272.0​
14
131.9​
173.2​
226.1​
293.7​
15
134.6​
180.1​
239.7​
317.2​
16
137.3​
187.3​
254.0​
342.6​
17
140.0​
194.8​
269.3​
370.0​
18
142.8​
202.6​
285.4​
399.6​
19
145.7​
210.7​
302.6​
431.6​
20
148.6​
219.1​
320.7​
466.1​

For example, if we assume a 4% pa average rate, then a sale from 12 years ago would be scaled by a factor of 1.601. In applying scaling to my earlier table of comparators I did not apply any correction to sales from 2023, applied a 1 year correction for the 2022 sale, a 15 year for the 2008 sale, and a 12 year for the 2011 sale.

Which Are the Best Comparators?

It is always good to ask yourself which are the best comparators, or ideally go through each name in the list and decide if your name is probably better or worse than that name.

When I did that here, it seemed to me that the two BuyDomains sales, names E and G are probably most similar. That would imply prices of the order of $1888 to $3380.

How Many Comparators?

While one can arbitrarily suggest a minimum number of comparators, I think a higher number of relevant comparators is always better, but adding sales that are not really similar will weaken any conclusions.

If You Have Domain Academy Tools Access

If you have access to the tools from Domain Academy (see our review: Everything About Domain Academy), then there is an easier way to get the starting list of comparator sales, drawing on results from the Afternic and GoDaddy sales database and NameBio. The Research Snapshot and Valuation Worksheet tools in particular are helpful in this regard.

Coming in Part 2

In the second part of this article I will explore using NameBio search for comparators using the pattern operators.

I will also cover additional techniques to expand the number of comparator sales using similar words and the Category and Subcategory settings.

Please share your thoughts on the role of comparator sales, and your own tips.

More on AI Agents

By the way, if you want to read more about AI agents, I found the Geeks for Geeks article Agents in Artificial Intelligence interesting and informative.


Sincere thanks to NameBio for the incredible resource of past domain sales information and powerful search capability.
 
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The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
Thank you for great sharing, Sir.

Hope more and more people are willing to share their sales and minds.
 
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A thorough and insightful article as always, @Bob Hawkes. One correction though- NameBio doesn't verify all the sales that are listed there anymore. Because other sites like UnreportedSales.com and people on Twitter/X started reporting sales that Namebio didn't have in their database, Namebio decided, beginning in June 2023, to start adding all of these other sales to their database so their users won't have missing info and look elsewhere. This is now their policy and they're adding these sales even though they haven't been verified. They're checking the 'Report Completed Domain Name Sales Here' thread at NamePros on a regular basis and these sales are added to Namebio.
 
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Thanks Bob for the insightful way of valuing domains on a retail level! I learned something from you from your post!
 
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Another stellar article Bob!

Going in for surgery first thing in AM...if all goes well, I'll read through it thoroughly tomorrow afternoon!?! 🏥
 
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Hi @Bob Hawkes & Co. What does one do when you can’t find any sales history for a domain on NB? I’ve heard of dn.prices, but that came up empty-handed, too. And this domain has been around for a long time; not one of my hand regs. Thanks in advance!
 
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Going in for surgery first thing in AM...
Thoughts with you @Mister Funsky – hope all is going well, and recovery will be smooth.
Thank you for your huge positive impact on NamePros over such a long period.
-Bob
 
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One correction though- NameBio doesn't verify all the sales that are listed there anymore.
Thanks for the correction. I did not realize this, and somewhat concerning.
 
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Hi @Bob Hawkes & Co. What does one do when you can’t find any sales history for a domain on NB? I’ve heard of dn.prices, but that came up empty-handed, too. And this domain has been around for a long time;
Thanks for the question, Molly. Even names registered for decades often have no record of a retail sale. That may be because the name has never sold retail, or simply that the sale was not recorded in NameBio or DNPric.es. The vast majority of retail sales are not recorded, unfortunately.

If you have access to DN Academy. the first think to do is to do a Valuation Sheet for the domain name, and see if it spits up a comparator that matches the name. They have access to Afternic and GoDaddy sales, as well as NameBio, so sometimes that happens.

But assuming none there, you need to look at sales of similar names, rather than the exact or nearly exact name. For example:
  • sales of synonyms of the name that have somewhat comparable familiarity and business worth.
  • different forms of the name - e.g. try plural/singular, UK/USA spelling if appropriate, ending in ing, etc. Now these are not directly comparable, so you will need to scale by some factor, but it is somewhat better than no comparators.
  • sales in other extensions. Now you need to scale according to perceived strength of the TLD, but still helpful. For example, if I have a word that works well in .org, can't find a sale in .com or .org, but do find one in .net, I could scale it up a little bit, or even use it as similar, assuming it is not something that fits really well with .net.
  • similar names in the sector/niche – e.g if you have a one word 12 letter name in .org that is a health term, you might search for sales of 9-14 letter terms in .org using the Category and Subcategory settings in NameBio.
  • sometimes simply names of similar structure, even if not synonyms or from a similar sector. The pattern searches, covered in Part 2 of this article, can help get expert at doing that.
I unfortunately forgot to edit this article with the link to Part 2 https://www.namepros.com/blog/finding-domain-name-comparator-sales-part-2.1327701/ that covers most of these and a few other tricks.

Now while comparators are important and helpful, keep in mind that the most important question is always how widely and strongly the name will be sought for legitimate business use. If I can't find any comparators I don't lose sleep if I have checked CrunchBase, OpenCorporates, LinkedIn, Goolge, dotDB etc. to help me assess that.

-Bob
 
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Thoughts with you @Mister Funsky – hope all is going well, and recovery will be smooth.
Thank you for your huge positive impact on NamePros over such a long period.
-Bob
Thank you for the kind words Bob. :xf.smile:

They did not keep me overnight and because they did not have to make a large incision, recovery should take only 2-3 weeks instead of 2-3 months...sitting up is helpful so now I have the time to catch up on any of your articles I might have missed!
 
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Thanks for the correction. I did not realize this, and somewhat concerning."
No prob. Yeah, I was surprised to hear about it too. I learned about it after I saw a purchase I made that was mentioned in the Report Completed Domain Name Sales Here thread (in a JPEG) appear at Namebio. I verified that the seller didn't report it to them. I asked Namebio to remove it, and then I got the explanation from Michael about their change in policy from ~ June 2023, basically what I mentioned in the previous post including taking sales directly from that thread and adding them to the database. He says that if sales are going to be in search now anyway (due to sites like UnreportedSales.com, Namepros etc.), Namebio might as well have the extra data so people don't have to check two places. My request was denied, btw. They don't remove data unless they know it's incorrect.

Personally, I don't get it. They want their paid users to not feel like they're missing out on anything, but from my perspective, all they're doing is compromising the integrity of Namebio.
 
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