Blockchain Makes Headway in Carbon-Busting

Not Ready for Prime Time in Mortgages, But…

Despite the growing pains and the volatility, crypto assets (the good ones, at least) are finding their use cases. Numerous financial and tech giants are offering customers digital asset options, and investing in the sector in various ways. The federal government recently put all hands on deck to find ways of keeping crypto assets useful, fair, and secure.

The mortgage industry, though, has done no more than dip a toe into distributed ledger a.k.a. blockchain technology. But the industry has to get to grips with the digital age. It has to smooth out the experience for borrowers of mortgages and home equity financing. Today’s mortgage applicant has to submit stacks of paper statements. Underwriters reject copies of webpages because they could be falsified. Title searches involve multiple sources of data when one ought to be enough. And so on. The process is antiquated and stressful, to put it mildly. “We’ve always done it like this” seems to be the only justification for much of the mortgage and title processes. Perhaps distributed ledger technology can help reinvent it. We’re not there yet.

Meanwhile, blockchain and real estate seem to be meshing quite well in the area of greenhouse gas emissions tracking.

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The Bahamas: Reborn as a Blockchain Real Estate Hub?

The Bahamas and blockchain real estate

Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and Andrew Yang made appearances at the Crypto Bahamas conference this year. The blockchain company FTX, one of the event’s hosts, boasts Tom Brady in an Ambassador role. Co-hosting the event was SALT, the geopolitical thought leadership forum.

The Bahamian Prime Minister, Philip Davis, opened the event. Clearly, cryptocurrency is welcome in The Bahamas today.

The country regulates digital assets with a set of laws that includes the Digital Assets and Registered Exchanges Act of 2020. Bahamian residents can pay their taxes with digital assets. And the Bahamian digital coin, the Sand Dollar, is a leader among central bank digital currencies.

What are people buying in The Bahamas with their digital assets?

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The NFT House on Florida’s Gulf Coast

Gulf Coast of Florida

A First for U.S. Real Estate

This year, the California real estate tech company Propy directed the first U.S. real estate NFT auction. The asset was a four-bedroom, 2-and-a-half bath house in Gulfport, on the western coast of central Florida. The Spanish-style building looks like many other Florida homes (readers may view a picture of the actual home by Josh Rojas for Spectrum Bay News 9 of Tampa). It sold for about $655K — which translates to about 210 Ethereum (ether) coins.  

The key parties to the transaction were:

  • Leslie A., the seller. Founder of DeFi Limited and a real estate investor.
  • Amanda J., the buyer. The new owner received a non-fungible token (NFT) encompassing the house title. This is a unique unit of data, etched on the blockchain as indelible proof of ownership.
  • A company named Never Forget to HODL LLC, which had been created to transfer the property rights.

What’s “never forget to HODL” about? Depending on who you ask, HODL is either a legendary typo made in a chat forum by a frazzled crypto owner, or the acronym for “hold on for dear life.” In any case, it’s well-known slang in the cryptocurrency world.

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Airbnb Could Decide to Accept Cryptocurrency in 2022

Image of a phone screen with icons on it.

Meanwhile, the Homesharing Platform Is Helping Homeowners in Ukraine

This might just be the year Airbnb meets bitcoin. A team of Airbnb employees is currently looking at how the platform could accept cryptocurrency payments. Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky has said the most requested feature for 2022 is a crypto payment option.

It’s likely to happen. Chesky has been tweeting since 2014 about Airbnb taking bitcoin. And other players in the short-term home rental world have already taken the plunge.

Binance is the largest cryptocurrency exchange. It has formed a blockchain-based homesharing service, Dtravel, with a presence at Travala.com. Blockchain-based Dtravel, which announces itself as the next evolution of homesharing, is decentralized — “community owned” and run by its participants, not by a company. That said, Dtravel is being guided through the process by people from established companies, including Airbnb.  

Dtravel charges less than Airbnb does, and the profits go back into Dtravel. This enables the project to hire developers and cover travel insurance for homeowners who rent out their properties. Spending decisions are made through community votes.

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Going All In: Why South Koreans Are Keen on Metaverse Real Estate

Person outside standing near a fence rail gazing over a bury city.

South Korea — renowned for its pop culture and a $16+ billion gaming sector — is perfectly poised to flourish in digitized worlds. K-pop singers have launched hits in the metaverse and real estate is popping up to host future concerts. Naver Z’s World, a metaverse leader based in South Korea, has attracted international fashion brands and individual creators alike to do business through its platform.

The South Korean government is acutely aware of the ramifications of all of the above. President Moon Jae-in’s administration is investing in the metaverse, encouraging interest in digital tourism and real estate.

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Sotheby’s International Realty Gives Its Blessing to the Metaverse

Image of houses near water showing their reflection much like an image in the metaverse.

A Miami mansion will become a first-of-a-kind this year. It will be sold as a real house, featuring seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms — together with its mirror property in the metaverse. The physical house will be sold by ONE Sotheby’s International Realty.

Sotheby’s International Realty has 1,000 offices in 40 countries, and is keen on innovation in the luxury real estate sphere. It’s part of Realogy Holdings Corp., which has had a franchise alliance with Sotheby’s since 2004. Sotheby’s, founded in Britain and headquartered in New York City, is the famous auction house for art and collectibles.

In 2021, blockchain-based tokens took the contemporary art world by storm. Sotheby’s was immediately drawn into the innovation, and became part of it. And now, with the Sotheby’s name giving its blessing to the metaverse market, investors in real estate and art are on notice. The rise of blockchain-based assets is not just a flash in the pan.

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Why Blockchain Real Estate Could Reach an Inflection Point in 2022

Image of the outside of a house with blue skies in the background and a light snow in the foreground

A Hint at Regulation to Come

No pain, no gain. The adage rings true at the gym, and it’s also an apt description for real estate transactions. Is any legal milestone loaded with more bureaucracy, more back-and-forth questions, more legions of intermediaries—all racking up fees for the documents they produce every step of the way?

There can be 500 people playing roles in a single property deal. In the digital era, does this make sense? Probably not for much longer.

Decentralized Finance, or DeFi, is a grand project to replace and improve upon traditional finance systems through the use of blockchain-based smart contracts, often supported by the Ethereum blockchain. Blockchain-based smart (self-executing) contracts could create far more efficient real estate transactions. For example, escrow accounts may be redundant if funds are released automatically as soon as the corresponding obligation is met.

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