“Blockchain and cryptocurrency really has the ability to change every aspect of real estate, from titles, to lending, to the brokerage itself,” said Jim Merrion, a Boulder real estate agent with Coldwell Banker. (Daily Camera). Is this true? Is cryptocurrency really going to change real estate? Should you accept bitcoin or another cryptocurrency? What do you need to know?
Before focusing on how cryptocurrency will “change every aspect of real estate” it is important to discuss what is a currency and how bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies fit in to the economy.
What is currency?
First, it is important to define what a currency is. Currency in its most basic form is a system of money in general use in a particular country. Furthermore, for a currency to be widely accepted the value of the currency must be relatively stable. For example, a dollar today is worth a dollar tomorrow. Therefore, many emerging economies exchange for dollars to ensure the “buying power” of the currency.
What is cryptocurrency?
“a digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank.” Bitcoin is one type of cryptocurrency.
Is this a misnomer to classify bitcoin and others as currency?
Yes, values of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have recently had wild swings in value. One-day bitcoin might be worth 30% less or more than it was the day before. Traditional stable currencies do not have wild swings in value. The commodity future trading commission classified bitcoin as a “commodity”.
The problem with cryptocurrency?
The headline says it all: Crypto wipeout deepens to $640 billion as Ether leads the decline (Bloomberg). Ether the second largest cryptocurrency slumped 10% in one day. What happens if you were transacting a sale on 3-million-dollar commercial property. You exchanged your cryptocurrency in the morning and by the end of the day, the “currency” was worth $300,000 less? Who eats this loss? Why would a seller/payment recipient take the risk? What if the change happened during the transaction? For example, you are sitting in the closing and check your phone and see that the value of the crypto is falling (or rising). Long and short, in its current state cryptocurrency is unlikely to catch on due to the volatility in value and resulting risk to sellers/payment recipients.
Cryptocurrency and Blockchain are different
Blockchain is basically a way to transact business. It is a verifiable ledger system that is encrypted.
By design, a blockchain is resistant to modification of the data. It is “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way”. For use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for inter-node communication and validating new blocks.
A blockchain is a decentralized, distributed and public digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers so that the record cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the consensus of the network. This allows the participants to verify and audit transactions inexpensively. (Wikipedia)
Blockchain is a way to communicate in a secure method without an intermediary that is verifiable. Blockchain likely will likely be adopted in real estate transactions. For example, a title to a property could be converted to Blockchain that would allow quick access to the title history and ensure no errors. Will Blockchain eliminate title companies? This is highly unlikely as there are various items that will not be on the blockchain like an IRS lien, divorces, liens/judgements against property owner that are not on title, etc…
What should you do?
Although I don’t believe cryptocurrencies will be widely accepted anytime soon, the technology behind a cryptocurrency, blockchain, will “alter” real estate. Blockchain should help “smooth” the real estate transaction and eliminate many errors. I don’t see bitcoin or blockchain technology drastically changing the real estate paradigm.
At Fairview we have made the decision not to accept cryptocurrencies at this point due to the wild gyrations in value. I also don’t feel in its present state that Bitcoin is a currency today. I don’t want to accept the risk of a payment being worth less within a day. Furthermore, what if Amazon tomorrow came out with its own currency flooding the market with a currency that is cheaper and more widely accepted than any of the traditional players today? I would suggest you watch the emergence of blockchain technology, but hold off on the cryptocurrency bandwagon for now and hang on to your greenbacks!
I need your help!
Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to wire money to your long-lost cousin that is going to give you a million dollars if you just send them your bank account! I do need your help though, please like and share our articles it would be greatly appreciated.
Written by Glen Weinberg, COO/ VP Fairview Commercial Lending. Glen has been published as an expert in hard money lending, real estate valuation, financing, and various other real estate topics in the Colorado Real Estate Journal, the CO Biz Magazine, The Denver Post, The Scotsman mortgage broker guide, Mortgage Professional America and various other national publications.
Fairview is a hard money lender specializing in private money loans / non-bank real estate loans in Georgia, Colorado, Illinois, and Florida. They are recognized in the industry as the leader in hard money lending with no upfront fees or any other games. Learn more about Hard Money Lending through our free Hard Money Guide. To get started on a loan all they need is their simple one page application (no upfront fees or other games).