Many have speculated on how the COVID-19 pandemic, and associated business climate, will influence the domain name sales market. In this article I look for statistical evidence of recent changes in domain name sales numbers or total dollar volume. I also collected opinions from domain investors on what they are seeing in the market, both in terms of inquiries and closed sales. Here is a summary of what I found. Statistical View of Recent Domain Market I used the NameBio database to see if domain sales had dropped off during the last month, when the impact from the pandemic would be expected to be most severe. The data below refers to a last month, or last three months, period ending April 13, 2020. That is, last month refers to data from March 14 through April 13, while the three month average is based on a period from January 14 through April 13. For the three month period, I expressed the data in terms of monthly averages, so the two can be compared. Keep in mind that NameBio data is a mix of retail and wholesale domain name sales, and that only certain sales venues report their data. I first looked at sales in all extensions. The past month had slightly more sales, 10,100 compared to a 9530 monthly average in the preceding three months. However, the total dollar volume in the last month was down by almost 10%. If we look only at .com sales, the picture is not much different. The number of sales is up 5.5% from the recent monthly average, but the dollar sales volume is down about 5.4%. This could be interpreted either as a larger number of wholesale transactions, as some domain investors liquidated part of their portfolio in tough economic times, or that domain investors have lowered retail prices in order to try to attract sales. One way to separate wholesale transactions from retail ones, is to look only at sales taking place at certain venues. If we include only sales from Sedo, BuyDomains, DomainMarket and Private Sales, there was a slight 1.7% decrease in retail sales numbers during the last month, and a 3.8% drop in retail dollar volume. I suspect these changes are not statistically significant. Of course, the selection of these venues does not perfectly split the retail and wholesale parts of market. Another option for separating retail and wholesale sales, is to look at sales within a certain price range. If I look only at .com sales of $10,000 and up, there is very little change during the last month. There were 72 sales during the last month, compared to a recent monthly average of 78, and the dollar volume is $2.5 million compared to a recent average of $2.6 million. The difference is not significant. If one instead considers all .com sales of $1000 or more, the last month saw 1193 sales compared to a 1252 monthly average in the preceding three months. The dollar sales volume is about $5.1 million in the last month, compared to a recent monthly average of $5.6 million. It might be concluded that in the $1000 and up .com market there has been a drop of about 9% in retail sales volume during the last month. Average prices edged downward as well. We study wholesale transactions by looking at the low price end of the market. The last month saw 15.8% more sales in the $100 to $200 range compared to the monthly average. The dollar volume is also substantially up, suggesting more wholesale transactions of late. With a NameBio membership plan, it is possible to look at sales below $100. In the .com extension there were about 9% more sales below $100 than the recent monthly average. In the last month alone, there were more than 26,900 .com sales listed in NameBio at prices less than $100. If instead of the last month we consider the month of March, we can use data from the Dofo monthly sales report for March 2020. That shows 21 sales (all extensions) of $50,000 and over, while in 2020 year-to-date there were 48 sales in total within that price range. This suggests no evidence yet of a drop at the top end of the market, and in fact the rate in March was above the 2020 average. It is possible that the drop-off will occur in later months, and previous economic collapses have had a delayed reflection in the domain market. It had seemed to me that recently BuyDomains has had more sales listed on NameBio, particularly related to health, education and remote services. Indeed, with 1119 sales from the first few months of 2020, compared to 2052 in all of 2019, BuyDomains are definitely selling more domain names. I wondered if this was because they had a portfolio well suited to recent demands. However, I think it may simply be that they have been steadily increasing their sales each year. For example, in 2018 they sold 1423 domain names. I would summarize what the numbers tell us in the following way. There is little evidence yet of a significant change in the retail domain market . There may be an indication of some lowering of prices. It seems clear that there are more wholesale transactions taking place. There is some evidence that the very top of the market is at least as strong as normal. It may well be too soon to conclude what the impact of the pandemic economic slowdown will be. Domain Investor Perspectives I asked the following three questions to obtain investor perspectives on what they are seeing in their own portfolios. I share a selection of responses below, but urge you to go to the NamePros request thread to see all of the responses in full. Brandsly, who has a large portfolio of about 7000 domain names, reported that while gross sales of typically $40,000 to $50,000 per month dropped to about one-quarter of that in March, that the early part of April seems to be rebounding nicely. Josh Reason shared the following perspective: NameBuyer statistics shows fewer sales compared to the same period last year, but higher revenue: Abdul Basit reports that sales are still happening, but fewer in number and concentrated at the lower end. Karmaco reports a stronger March 2020 compared to 2019. Garptrader shared several recent significant sales, all happening in just a few days, but also pointed out that natural volatility means that one should be cautious about interpreting anything unusual in a short time period. Nikul Sanghvi of Hypernames, who periodically shares with NamePros readers detailed analyses of his domain sales, provided a comprehensive picture of what has happened in his portfolio lately. He reports that: He also reported that while sales volume is similar to last year, average prices have edged downward. F33333 reports: A similar view was expressed by AnthonyD: FolioTeam reports more visits but not a correspondingly higher number of sales. She writes: SuperBrander reported: A number of people I talked to reported that a greater number of sales are now opting for monthly payment plans. For example, Pay.My.id reports about 60% of sales are on payment plans recently That makes sense in the current economic climate. The negotiation process, and fraction of successful sales, may be seeing changes as well. Nikul Sanghvi says: SuperBrander also encountered a failed sale that was attributed to the pandemic: While OnlineBusiness reported a number of successful sales in March, he also added: A similar experience was reported by Brandsly who wrote: She went on to say, though, that we may see a quick return to near normal as people adjust. Among the areas that seem strong of late, Pay.My.id indicates “health, security and financial” are popular, with others have added education, delivery, digital and remote services. Some suggest that travel and entertainment domains are a tougher sell than usual right now. I asked about parking, but only a few respondents commented on that. Pablohc86 suggests recent volatility, but overall not much different from the past. Length did not allow me to fully quote all who responded, so head over to this NamePros discussion thread to read additional reflections on what is happening in the market during the pandemic. I would like to end with this sensible and optimistic view expressed by OnlineBusiness: Final Thoughts While I think there are hints of a changing market, I don’t think that there is clear statistical proof yet. The entire market is probably down only slightly. Not surprisingly, with many people at home and on the Internet, there seem more people looking at domain names, but not more buying. The statistics suggest more wholesale movement of domain names, and this may be a buying opportunity for some investors. There are probably more significant changes in the types of domain names that sell, rather than the total sales volume. That may partly explain the differences between individual experiences. It is likely that the percentage of offers that do not convert to closed sales will increase. Those who offer monthly payment plans may improve their chances. Just as in conventional investment, it is always wise to carefully consider changing markets, but it is also important to not panic or over react. What Do You Think? Are you seeing recent changes in offers or sales, the types of names getting interest, or parking revenue? More generally, how do you see the domain market changing in the months ahead? Have you altered your personal domain investment activity during the pandemic? Have you done any price adjustments? As always, I welcome your contributions in the comments section. If you have not already done so, please vote in the poll. A sincere thank you to all domain investors who shared their experiences, in some cases in significant detail. I also acknowledge the NameBio database that made this statistical analysis possible, as well as Dofo for the March 2020 sales analysis.