Be Cautious Of Appraisal Services

Most domain registrants are understandably curious about the value of their name – and there are shonky appraisal services around ready to take advantage of this curiosity.

When web site owners hear about some domain names being worth millions of dollars, it can trigger them to start hunting around for valuation services.

The problem often is that valuations – whether free or paid for; are often way off the mark. In the case of paid automated appraisal services where you pay your cash, enter your domain name into a box and a claimed “complex algorithm” then calculates a value instantly; the estimates are often highly exaggerated.

This inflated valuation might leave the registrant with a warm and fuzzy feeling of success and riches; but when they then attempt to sell the name at the valuation price, disappointment is usually the result.

These exaggerated valuations can also lead people to register more names (and then get more valuations – both often through the same service) as they feel that they have struck a gold mine.

Another appraisal scam is the unsolicited one. In this scam, a registrant is emailed out of the blue by someone claiming to be interested in buying their domain name; often offering far more than the domain is actually worth. The catch is the domain owner needs to have an appraisal done by a certain service, with the excuse being it’s the only valuation service the buyer trusts.

Bedazzled by the potential dollars, the domain name owner then happily parts with anything from $20 – $100 for the sham valuation; which may even confirm its value.

However, the “buyer” then ceases communication – that’s because the buyer is actually a representative of the valuation service, or otherwise affiliated with them and receives payment for each valuation referral.

So how do you get an accurate domain name appraisal?

The first tip is to be very wary of automated services – this is a case where humans do it better. Something you can do is to list the domain name on popular relevant auction sites at a reserve price far higher than it would be worth. The highest bids should give you some sort of indication as to market value – and you may even decide you wish to offer to the highest bidder.

If you want to hire a service to issue an appraisal; look at the methodology being used and their history, also search for reviews. Methodology should consist of dozens of points, such as the length of a name, the keywords it contains, any existing traffic, search frequency and a myriad of other aspects.

Also bear in mind the wisdom of real estate agents when it comes to the value of a home which can be applied to the domain name sector – “it’s worth whatever someone is prepared to pay”.