Seems like this "virtual real-state" business is getting some publicity this month, after some news and interesting overviews appeared around on blogs and news sites. One of them is written by Dennis Forbes, with title "Interesting Facts About Domain Names". He checked thousands of domain names, with different number and word combinations, and surpisingly finding that most if not all, have been taken already. Do they have developed content? Seems like they don't. People starting a web-based business can have a tough time for finding a really good brand they can market and use for word-of-mouth advertisement, as they need to look for more complicated names, hyphen-based ones, using not so nice TLDs (ex. no .com, no .net, no .org).
Dennis did a certainly nice job for creating charts to show the statistics, one of them on the different possible length letter sequences:
Most companies go for a domain name broker or speculator to do the job for them, find a potentially brandable name and then starting the negotiations with the owner and finally doing the proper transaction via a escrow agent. The point is, How much do these brokers get out of each operation? The usual commission is around 10-5% of the final value.
How much does the owner get? Well, here we go with the interesting stuff.