Start Spreading the News: Blockchain Deed Recording Comes to New York City

New York City’s Department of Finance is trying out blockchain. Can the technology make recording and keeping deeds a better process? The test run, handled by Medici Land Governance (MLG), will find out whether the method will work in a massive city, the company stated in August 2021. MLG is owned by Overstock.com — an early adopter of blockchain in the retail sphere. Its blockchain recording system is proven to be tamper-resistant and easily searched.

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United Wholesale Mortgage Plans to Accept Crypto in 2021

Image of a very modern looking interior of a house. Captioned: Crypto for Your Mortgage

United Wholesale Mortgage wants to take payments in cryptocurrency by late 2021. The point? To be the first mortgage company to take the plunge. “I’m not going to sit here and wait for everyone else to do it and then follow,” CEO Mat Ishbia told Julie Hyman for Yahoo Finance.

The CEO first broke the news on its second-quarter earnings call in August, mentioning Bitcoin and Ethereum as top currency candidates.

UWM’s core business involves underwriting loans for mortgage brokers. Nearly a million homeowners send money to UWM every month, and many of them make their monthly payments through the company’s website.

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Blockchain and the Mortgage Loan

Image of a modern looking modular building. Captioned: Blockchain and the Mortgage Loan

In debates over a 2021 infrastructure bill, blockchain tax is contested ground. Cryptocurrency proponents are keen on keeping the crypto mining and development communities in the United States. Heavy regulations and taxes could run the risk of tossing the baby out with the bathwater, they warn. Overbroad taxation could suppress the evolving blockchain technology that supports smart contracts.

The issue matters to the world of titles and mortgages. Here, we note some evolving use cases for blockchain — especially in the mortgage sphere.

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Blockchain in Payments and Real Estate Transactions: Notable News

Image of the Nasdaq billboard with a city scape in the background. Captioned:  Blockchain in Payments and Real Estate Transactions.

In recent real estate industry news, Rick Caruso committed to cryptocurrency. Caruso is the owner of the Rosewood Miramar Beach in Montecito, California. Cryptocurrency is now accepted at Caruso’s shops, where customers may earn bitcoin to spend at the resort — or to pay rent at the company’s luxury apartments.

Yes, bitcoin will be the coin of the realm at Caruso rental properties. Not far from Hollywood are The Luxury Apartments, above The Americana at Brand. Here, renters will send payments through their digital wallets on the Gemini blockchain platform.

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From Crowdfunding to Tokenization: The Evolution of Shares in Real Estate

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July, 2021 — Real estate has long functioned as a store of equity value that owners can exchange for money, loans and lines of credit. Yet the typical real estate transaction is associated with a cumbersome, bureaucratic, and fee-heavy process that every homeowner is greatly relieved to finish.  

There are other ways to invest in real estate that do not take the same level of personal involvement and work as direct purchases of real estate do. In other words, investments in buildings and land can be more liquid. In addition to investing in and financing one’s own property, it’s possible to invest in real estate exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and real estate investment trusts (REITs) through stock brokerage accounts, including individual retirement accounts.

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Decentralized Finance (DeFi) and Real Estate Investments

Image of the outside of a modern multi-unit real estate building.

Real estate is known as an illiquid asset. Turning real estate assets into cash is a complex, costly process. This is so, whether the owner is selling, or seeking profit from steady rental income. Returns on an initial investment are typically slow, cumbersome, dependent on intermediaries, and reliant on other people’s reliability and performance.

Blockchain technology is being applied to lessen the administrative friction. Were real estate easier to transfer, proponents say, new investment choices could be developed.

Readers may have noted a marked rise in discussions of DeFi — decentralized finance — as a way to bringing tangible assets into digital, accessible form. Real estate, with a global market approaching $300 trillion in total value, is an impressive use case. According to Paul Tostevin, director of the Savills World Research team:

By any measure, real estate is by far the most significant store of wealth, representing more than 3.5 times the total global GDP. 

And no wonder. Territory is a good we cannot live without. And real estate is finite.

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Blockchain Is Now Legal Tender In El Salvador. Real Estate Investors, Take Note.

Image representing the idea of a blockchain.

June, 2021 — As Deeds.com readers know, we’ve been watching the steady emergence of blockchain for real estate applications. Blockchain, which was introduced to the world through Bitcoin in 2009, is here to stay. How can we say so? It’s increasingly viewed as a change agent in the way business is done.

Case in Point: El Salvador, June 2021

Cryptocurrency has just reached a new milestone, becoming a legal tender in El Salvador. To underscore the intent to make bitcoins more like a currency than a taxable asset, President Nayib Bukele said transactions could occur without being subject to capital gains tax. On the 9th of June, 2021, the president tweeted about the country’s official recognition of Bitcoin:

The #BitcoinLaw has been approved by a supermajority in the Salvadoran Congress. 62 out of 84 votes! History! #Btc

Bukele has replied to concerns that cryptoassets can be used by criminals, observing that criminals trade in U.S. dollars and other assets as well. The president also tweeted a rebuttal to the objection that cryptocurrency relies on coal-based electricity:

I’ve just instructed the president of LaGeo (our state-owned geothermal electric company), to put up a plan to offer facilities for #Bitcoin mining with very cheap, 100% clean, 100% renewable, 0 emissions energy from our volcanos. This is going to evolve fast!

El Salvador will offer citizenship to those who have invested in at least three bitcoins.

Note: Bitcoin with a capital B is usually reserved to mean the platform, whereas a bitcoin with a small b is the cryptoasset itself. BTC is the abbreviation for bitcoin traded on an exchange.

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Deeds, Reimagined: Is a New Day Dawning for the Chain of Title?

Image of a very large steel chain with the sun shining through one of the links. Captioned: Is a New Day Dawning for the Chain of Title?

Art met real estate in a new way this year. Krista Kim’s Mars House design appeared on the first irreplaceable, non-fungible token (NFT) for a virtual house and garden. Kim’s virtual experience was followed by an NFT listing for a home in New York (a real one) on the Ethereum blockchain.

Think it’s all a flash in the pan? Look again. Blockchain’s tamper-resistant ledger system offers tremendous benefits for real estate deeds. It’s poised to transform the way we trace a chain of title. And the rise of NFTs just shows how fast things are moving.

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The Real Estate Deal, Decluttered: Blockchain and Deed Recording

Throughout the past decade, blockchain technology has evolved from an upstart concept to early adoption in banking and a host of other industries. Many people are eager to learn about blockchain and how it can change the way we do business.

What, we might wonder, can the blockchain do to remedy the hurdles and risks that pervade the real estate industry?

The question is now ripe. Today, we can review early examples of blockchain technology in action, modernizing property conveyance. Specifically, blockchain applied to real estate has obvious potential for improving the deed recording process.

How will blockchain make things better?

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