Current research at the MIT School of Architecture and Planning’s Center for Real Estate is investigating the economics of virtual real estate, using techniques customarily used for bricks-and-mortar. While the Internet has always been thought of in terms of real estate — homepage, website, domain name — this project is thought to be the first time real-world evaluation techniques have been applied to the world of Internet domain names.

The arrival of this approach is timely: The Internet is currently host to 22 top-level domains, such as .com, .gov, .org, etc. — not including countryspecific extensions, such as — but consumers soon will be able to choose from nearly 1,000 new domains for their online presence.

In anticipation of this massive explosion of supply — unparalleled in both virtual and traditional space — Thies Lindenthal, a postdoc fellow from the Netherlands’ Maastricht University, is developing ways to assess the potential value of that new real estate.

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