Blockchain technology has enabled nearly every major industry to send and receive payments via cryptocurrency, and real estate is no exception. Crypto coins like Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum disrupt traditional methods of payment by allowing transactions to be quickly processed and posted to the “ledger” by means of a complex mathematical formula. Because it is decentralized, the ledger is virtually incorruptible, making it appealing to financial professionals who use the sophisticated technology to record transactions.
Increasingly, real estate buyers and sellers are dealing in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Litecoin. In fact, one seller of a Miami condo stated they would only accept bitcoin! So what future impact will cryptocurrency have on the real estate market? As more cryptocurrency investors seek to diversify their holdings into the relatively safe investment that is real estate, both home buyers and sellers will be subject to the implications, including pros and cons.
Buyer Pros and Cons
- Smart investors know to never put their eggs in one basket, and those who have profited from cryptocurrency may look to real estate – generally a much less volatile investment – to diversify their portfolio.
- Lock in profits. Investors who have profited from cryptocurrency may wish to lock in their profits, opting out of the volatility of the crypto market. Buying a home offers a traditional, low-risk, and profitable asset.
- Negotiating power. Like cash buyers, bitcoin investors who make are prepared to make a full offer will have an edge in competitive markets. Increasingly, more and more ads state the seller is “accepting bitcoin.”
- Limited availability. The number of sellers accepting crypto is still relatively small, although bitcoin transactions are on the rise.
- Opportunity cost. By cashing in their crypto coins for real estate, buyers could miss out on future appreciation of the asset.
- Complicated tax situation. Because it is unregulated, dealing in cryptocurrency can be a tax headache. Trading, exchanging, or spending crypto is generally subject to capital gains tax. To avoid a visit from the IRS, those looking to trade crypto for real estate should consult an experienced CPA who understands the nuances of cryptocurrency.
Seller Pros and Cons
- Potential appreciation: Judging from historic crypto “booms,” sellers with a high risk tolerance will likely enjoy the profits of future crypto appreciation.
- A wider audience: Listings that include a caveat for “accepting bitcoin” draw attention, as evidenced by viral posts from earlier this year. Bitcoin enthusiasts generate hype around sellers accepting bitcoin, opening up a new market of tech-savvy buyers.
- Potential losses – The crypto market is volatile, and selling at the wrong time could limit profits, or worse, lead to a big loss.
- Learning curve – For the uninitiated, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies must be stored in a “wallet” or virtual exchange. Many online exchange services let users create an account and manage their crypto for free, but be warned that accounts are susceptible to hackers. Always take precautions to ensure security.
- Complicated tax situation. Again, Bitcoin and other cryptos present challenging tax implications for both the seller and buyer. Make sure to consult an experienced CPA who is familiar with cryptocurrency.
Blockchain has the power to transform the real estate industry through deep technology. Once completed, a blockchain transaction is forever in the ledger, making it secure and transparent. It’s easy to see how this could improve the title and mortgage process in real estate. In reality, cryptocurrencies are already influencing the way people buy and sell homes, with more sellers accepting bitcoin and more buyers ready to cash in. Of course, using crypto as payment comes with pros and cons, so make sure to do your research before investing.
Would you ever buy or sell a home with bitcoin? Let us know in the comments!