Trading bitcoin for bricks and shutters

Make bank with bitcoin investments in 2017? Turn theoretical currency into property.

In the market for a new house now that you’re raking in the dough from your bitcoin purchase?

There’s a realtor for that.

Propy might be the first real estate broker in the world to accept and arrange purchases with bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that increased in value more than 1300% in 2017. (That’s not a typo – at least one article says the value went up 1,372% from Jan. 1 – Dec. 31.)

In addition to listing properties in glamorous cities like San Francisco, Dubai, Beijing and New York, Propy also is the agency offering the Packer House: a single-story house within walking distance of Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers. The house is painted in the team’s colours, complete with green shutters, and comes with Packers-inspired décor, including a big sticker on the refrigerator, a full bar and a good-sized backyard for tailgating before walking across the street to the game.

The house currently is owned by a former Facebook executive, Chris Murphy, and he’s interested in selling the property for $1 million worth of bitcoin.

So how much is that? Roughly 76 bitcoins, as each one is worth $13,151 USD (as of Jan. 1, 2018).

Propy says this is the first US house listed on the market with the intention of being sold for bitcoin, using blockchain technology to make the transfer nearly instantaneous and encrypted.

Propy also claims this one real estate transaction is “the first sign crypto is entering the real world. Many people invest in cryptocurrency, but they rarely exchange it for physical goods. This listing signals that people are embracing cryptocurrency as real money with purchasing power.”

Why would anyone want to do this?

There’s the novelty factor for sure: being first, being an originator, making history (clichéd but in this case potentially true), it all adds to the adrenaline rush. With so many people talking about bitcoin and blockchain technology, and so many others still shrugging their shoulders and trying to figure out whether this is a real, legit currency to be handled in the future or just a massive scam set up by people who want to game the currency system and make boatloads of money off something that is, by default and design, intangible, this is transaction could be a case study in whether bitcoin will be the currency of the future.

Bitcoin is its own value, acquired through purchasing it with other forms of legal tender or earned by “mining” it, and it is not directly tied to or beholden to the value of another form of currency. If the dollar (USD, CAD, etc) tanks, bitcoin isn’t touched. If the Asian markets go haywire, bitcoin is steady. Selling a house in the US for $1 million in bitcoin is flashy and a novelty but it might be a pioneering act.

The first ever real estate transaction conducted with bitcoin already happened, when Michael Arrington of TechCrunch purchased an apartment in Ukraine.

The first and second houses sold for bitcoin in the UK just happened, with two “men in their 20s in the technology industry” bought properties with bitcoin in December. One of the buyers is a “miner” who is taking his cryptocurrency coins and turning them into properties but wants to collect rent in coins as well.

Property values fluctuate, that’s a given. Real estate bubbles burst – it’s a big part of what led the US to the financial crisis a few years back. But what happens if the real estate market remains strong but the bitcoin bubble pops? Or both falter at the same time – what happens then? How is the house sold again in the future, in dollars or coins?

One advantage bitcoin has over traditional currency when it comes to property transactions: a lot of the fees that build up because closing on a house are eliminated. Once the price is confirmed and the papers are signed, the deal is done, Propy said. Sounds fairly simple compared to the headaches and uncertainty people typically have.

Murphy says he expects the house to sell within a few months. Let’s see.


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