It’s hard to remember life before the Internet. Can you imagine trying to determine a store’s hours without doing a quick search, or figuring out the temperature at which roasted pork is fully cooked? From shopping to news gathering to searching for real estate trends, the Internet has truly changed our lives.

At the same time, there is so much unsubstantiated information circulating that it’s hard to determine what is good, solid information. And that can be challenging for consumers – and professionals.  Here are five ways that the Internet is the Wild, Wild West – and what you can do about it.

1. It’s confusing. There are millions of websites on the Internet today – more than 271 million to be exact! Whether it’s a bakery or a bank, all websites utilize the same handful of domain names – such as .com, .net or .org. As a result, you don’t always know where you are going when you type a Web address.

2. It’s expensive. Short or common name Web addresses are tough to come by and can cost big bucks. Premium pricing for popular domain names can run from hundreds to thousands of dollars.  Then there are the “cybersquatters” who buy Web addresses and try to sell them for several times the amount for which they were purchased.

3. It’s difficult to establish your identity. With so many .com names already claimed, REALTORS® often find they have to settle for a Web address that doesn’t immediately offer name recognition or identify what they do.

4. It’s impossible to verify. Anyone can claim .com, .net and other top-level domains. It’s impossible for consumers to know “who’s who” online since anyone can say anything!

5. It’s hard to tell who is professional. Consumers are looking for trustworthy real estate professionals, but they can’t easily assess that. What they seek is a REALTOR®, who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and follows a strict code of ethics.

The problem is clear – and so is the solution.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has been working since 2005 to better define the clutter of the Internet. Members of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) can clearly show their status as a REALTOR® instantly — by claiming a website domain that ends in .REALTOR, rather than .com, .org or .net. With the Internet so chaotic and cluttered, the .REALTOR domain helps REALTORS® demonstrate they are members who follow a code of ethics and allows consumers to find the trusted professional advice they need to buy or sell a home.

Beginning at 8:00 a.m. PDT on October 23, REALTORS® can claim their .REALTOR domains in conjunction with their name, choosing from a clean slate of domain names that allows them to stand apart from other real estate professionals on the Internet. And, since the .REALTOR domain can only be used by REALTORS®, they will have a better opportunity of securing a Web address with their name, instantly branding themselves as a REALTOR®, a trusted real estate professional.

Claim your .REALTOR domains starting on October 23 at 8:00 a.m. PDT by visiting www.claim.REALTOR. The first 500,000 members to register will receive a FREE .REALTOR domain for one year.

For more information about the .REALTOR domain, including special discounted pricing offers for multi-year and multiple domain purchases and naming guidelines, visit www.about.REALTOR.