Every single real estate professional ought to own and utilize their own top level domain name (www.yourname.com) and branded email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). These two assets are easy to establish, astonishingly inexpensive, and provides you with a substantial marketing cornerstone that facilitates lead development and the ability retain your present/past client relationships.
First, let me demonstrate the simplicity and low costs associated with my recommendations. Purchasing a .com domain name will cost you less than $10 a year. I highly recommend namecheap.com. At the time of this writing, a new .com registration through them costs $8.88 and less than $13 a year to renew. I like namecheap.com because they provide complimentary privacy protection upon registration, meaning, domain name registration data is kept private which reduces some SPAM and web-related solicitations.
Please do not get caught up in the myth that your domain name must contain the phrase or reference “real estate” in it—it does not and provides little utility. While finding a domain name that matches your business or name is convenient—short and intuitive domain names are best. This means, yourname.com is substantially better than yourfullnamerealestateagent.com. There may be a day when someone has to write or type your domain name, the more letters the higher the likelihood they’re going to misprint it. I have noticed a trend in the past year of agents forcing ‘realestate’ or ‘realtor’ into their name—for example, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org—when an email address requires a 4-pt font to fit on your business card you’re doing something horribly wrong.
Stay away from trademark references in your domain name and email address. At the time of this writing, the National Association of REALTORS® does allow members to use the membership mark REALTOR® in association with their name in email addresses and domain names. This means that you could utilize yournamerealtor.com; however, you should avoid the temptation. When you utilize a trademark, even with permission, you still yield control and potential ownership of that domain and email to the trademark holder. While today the NAR allows you to utilize this membership mark, they retain the ability to change their mind tomorrow—if they rescind your ability to utilize REALTOR® you would lose the right to use your domain name and email. Why take that risk? Why invest time and money into assets you may lose control over?
Branded/Hosted email is what allows you to have email@example.com. For hosted email, you can find a reputable hosted email provider for less than a five-dollars a month. For example, namecheap provides such email for $9 a year—renews at $12 a year. If you’re using a service like gmail or yahoo mail as an email client, it is easy to pair your hosted email account in gmail. Doing this allows you to utilize a single app to
It may seem unusual that I have recommended namecheap.com—I am not receiving any compensation, nor does namecheap know that I am such a fan. What can I say? I am simply a fan of inexpensive things that work as they are supposed to without a ton of upselling pressure or bureaucracy to use the product/service.
So, Why? Why is it necessary to own your domain name and utilize branded email?
Control. The first reason to own your own domain name and branded email is so that you maintain control and access to these assets. For example, many real estate agents utilize free email services such as GMAIL or YAHOO for their email—should these parent companies decide to stop providing these services or simply suspend you for breaking their terms and conditions you would lose access and record of your email. With your own hosted/branded email if this should happen, you can move providers with little interruption.
Career Flexibility. According to NAR, the median tenure of agents at their current firm is four years—on average, agents will switch real estate firms 4 times in the course of their real estate career. Branding may even change more often than that if agents find themselves joining teams within offices, each office or team change presents possible confusion and lost opportunities with past clients. If you are utilizing your brokerage provided email and domain name this means office changes will cause significant interruption to your ability to maintain contact with past clients. With your own hosted/branded email and domain name, office changes would be seamless to your past and present clients as your email and domain name would not change.
Think about it. These interruptions can be avoided for about $25 a year. Keep in mind, I have not even touched upon the marketing return you may receive by maintaining a domain name and branded/hosted email.
Big Misconceptions. If you have a domain name, you’ll need a website. No. This is not true. You can simply utilize your domain name for your email. At the very least, I would suggest that you point your domain to a free website/host and place your photo, bio, and contact information there. Sound like too much work? Point your domain name (CNAME) to your MLS bio or your bio listed on your brokerage website. Some brokerages provide websites to their agents (yourname.yourbrokeragename.com) you can easily forward your domain name to resolve to your brokerage provided website, again, redirecting your domain name to where ever you want does not cost you anything. Remember, now when you change offices, it is easy to redirect your domain name to your new office with zero issues.