Cryptocurrency and real estate: Two worlds collide

Cryptocurrency and real estate: Two worlds collide

Cryptocurrency and real estate: Two worlds collide

The FINANCIAL -- Few years ago, the notion of buying or renting a home with Bitcoin was unheard of. And while it's not (yet) what would be described as a mainstream practice, there's evidence that it's becoming more common.

In June, Realtor.com had 98 properties listed that would accept Bitcoin or other forms of cryptocurrency as either full or partial payment.

They ranged from small plots of land in North Port, Fla., for $14,000 to $30 million lofts in New York City – although it's notable that most of the homes purchased with Bitcoin have been on the higher end of the market, according to the network Cisco's Technology News.

Anonymity is one of the main lures of cryptocurrencies, so it is difficult to track all transactions, noted Cody Harvat, a spokesperson for Realtor.com. But for comparison's sake, when Realtor.com took a look at the inventory back in February 2018, there were only 37 listings accepting Bitcoin ranging from $114,000 for a home in Kansas to a 9,500-square-foot Miami mansion for $6.5 million.

Kuper Sotheby's International Realty made national headlines in September 2017 when it was involved in the first single-family home sold in Texas involving Bitcoin. Since then, the brokerage firm has closed on at least three more Bitcoin sales of homes in Austin, Texas.

In February 2018, celebrity video game developer Richard Garriott also said he was not only willing to accept payment for his $45 million Austin estate in cryptocurrency, but that he would give a "significant discount" for buyers who use the cryptocurrency. (The price has since dropped to just under $40 million.)

Also in February 2018, the innovation of blockchain made waves in the Calgary commercial real estate market when commercial real estate brokerage Barclay Street Real Estate/TCN Worldwide brought what was believed to be the first office rental property to market in Alberta for those who wished to pay rent using cryptocurrency.

The client, Real Equity Centre in northwest Calgary, is willing accept several different cryptocurrencies for rent payments, including Bitcoin, Ethereum and LiteCoin.

At the time, Barclay Street Vice President Dan Harmsen said he believed blockchain technology was "soon going to have a significant impact on many financial transactions, including real estate deals."

"Calgary has a lot of technology companies and talent, and it only makes sense to introduce services that take advantage of emerging technologies," he added.

"The landlord is quite understanding and experienced in cryptocurrency and when we had some vacancy in this particular building we're advertising, he said if people had stories of value in cryptocurrencies that they might want to use against rent, then why don't we let them do that," Harmsen told The Network. "The reality is that cryptocurrencies are becoming more easily liquidated."