Bitcoin and the Real Estate Industry

Recently, a real estate agent asked me if she should be marketing her listing by including the fact that the seller is willing to accept Bitcoin.   If you don’t know what Bitcoin is, the simplest definition I can come up with is that Bitcoin is a digital currency and it, along with other cryptocurrencies, are going to change…everything. Here was my answer to her:

Good News and Bad News as they say.   First of all, I’m the right guy to ask because I’m a cryptocurrency fan.  I’ve been buying, selling and well just holding about 16 different cryptocurrencies for about a year now.

While I think Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are indeed THE future of money and transactions, we just aren’t there yet.   Bitcoin and others fall into a legal gray area when it comes to being recognized as payments.   So while I have read about some real estate transactions that were accomplished around the country using Bitcoin, most likely the Bitcoin was converted to dollars “at the table” and then the transaction happened.

The other thing about Bitcoin is that it is wicked volatile.   $9,424 at this time.   By the time you read this email it could have swung by $500 up or down easily.    So let’s say you were selling a house for 500k.   That would be 53.03 bitcoin.    Like I said, the price of Bitcoin could rise or fall quickly.   If the price of Bitcoin were to go down by $800 in one hour (about the time for a closing to happen) then your seller effectively sold for 457k.    Conversely, the buyer could overpay by tens of thousands of dollars if the price skyrocketed.    Your commission of 3% could rise or fall by 5, 10 maybe even 15% by the time you get back to your car after the transaction!   Wow.

So while it is very interesting to sell a property for Bitcoin I would not recommend it at this time.   The final nail in the coffin is that the title insurance companies cannot insure transactions with Bitcoin.    That means that you would not be able to get a loan for the property restricting the pool of buyers to cash buyers, or well “Bitcoin buyers.”

There are many experts who say cryptocurrencies are a fad and are destined to value at zero.   But those are the people who are most threatened by cryptocurrencies.   I can find experts who will tell you with an absolute straight face that a Bitcoin will be worth one million dollars by 2020.   Let’s hope they are right!   The truth lies somewhere in the middle but I KNOW this….. Our grandkids will be using cryptocurrencies every day for all kinds of purchases, including real estate.

Bitcoin is the most well known cryptocurrency but there are hundreds of different cryptos being developed for all kinds of projects.   Burstcoin is an environmentally friendly cryptocurrency alternative to Bitcoin. (Bitcoin uses a LOT of power) Ethereum features “smart contracts” which could aid in real estate transactions. There are other coins being developed specifically for real estate transactions.

So while we may not be using Bitcoin, Burstcoin or Ethereum right now, our kids sure will.

 

Have a burning question about title insurance or the real estate closing process? We have the answers!  We love to education and inform consumers – and industry professionals – about the intricacies of the business. Send your queries to matthew@cumberlandtitle.com.