The bitcoin craze has officially jumped to real estate.
Despite the risky, volatile nature of cryptocurrency, homes and property across the U.S., Australia, Canada, and beyond are for sale for the unpredictable coin. Even after one bitcoin dropped from $14,000 to $11,000 in value in a matter of days, homeowners are still putting up their homes for some of that flashy money.
It’s not just a few listings here and there. According to Bitcoin Real Estate, a site that has been tracking the business for several years, the trend is growing more and more and not slowing down.
At the end of 2017 a Miami condo reportedly sold for 17.7 bitcoin and actual cryptocurrency was exchanged between the buyer and seller. Not just bitcoin converted into cash, which is the more popular way to use the coin.
Trulia spokeswoman Andrea McDonald found 80 listings on the site that reference cryptocurrency in some way. Many just note “bitcoin accepted,” but others really get into it.
A property near Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California makes that case for paying with cryptocurrency, insisting that the property “can be a nice investment for future at a very reasonable $5,250 per acre for a total of $2.1 million or 124 bitcoins.”
Another home in West Palm Beach, Florida, is open to buyers with bitcoin and ethereum and litecoin, but with the caveat that cryptocurrencies are constantly changing. “Owner financing possible $149,900 USD, 13 bitcoin 375 ethereum, 950 litecoin (crypto price subject to change. Inquire crypto price at time of interest),” the listing says.
So far Trulia hasn’t officially seen a sale go down with the coin, McDonald said, but it’s probably just a matter of time.
Redfin, another online real estate database, has also seen a crypto trend in its listings, especially in hubs like the Bay Area and Miami. The number of listings that accepted cryptocurrency jumped from 75 in December to 134 in mid-January. Some of those 134 listings have sold, but as a Redfin spokesman explained it’s unclear if cryptocurrency was used for all or a portion of the sale price.
Some of the listings are trying so hard to initiate a cryptosale. A Florida home used all caps and asterisks to lure in investors, screaming, “**BITCOIN SALE PREFERRED! Unique opportunity to be one of the first transactions using Bitcoin.**”. Another listing for a property in Washington state, meanwhile, was generous with exclamation points: “Seller willing to accept BITCOIN!!! The new rate of cryptocurrency that [sic] taking the world by storm!”
Aaron Drucker, a Redfin agent in Miami, said in a phone call that including cryptocurrency in a listing gives a property more exposure. He’s also noticed that bitcoin listings tend to be luxury condos. “Earlier investors in bitcoin have made a lot of money,” he said. “They may want to convert some of that into a tangible asset.”
“I wouldn’t recommend this for first-time home buyers.”
But bitcoin sales aren’t for everyone. “I wouldn’t recommend this for first-time home buyers,” he added. “But if you want to buy a second home, this might be something to consider.” No matter how you look it at, Drucker said, it’s “definitely risky.”
Others are using bitcoin and other coins for their lucrative value. A Redfin agent in San Diego helped a buyer cash out two bitcoin valued then at nearly $7,500 each to cover closing costs for a home in Carlsbad, California.
Carina Isentaeva, a Redfin agent in San Francisco, is in the center of the crypto-mania. In a call she said it’s all about “crypto homes” now. She had a deal that fell through because the buyer’s ICO flopped. But more surprising to Isentaeva was that the seller was willing to work with a cryptocurrency contingent sale. “You couldn’t imagine this a few years ago,” she said. “Everyone would want to see a bank statement,” not ICO filing paperwork.
Another big issue holding up more sales with actual cryptocurrency is regulation. Just finding an escrow service that will handle a crypto sale instead of traditional cash is difficult. As Isentaeva noted, the technology is moving much faster than government and laws. So the workaround is to convert bitcoin into cash and then buy property. But eventually the tech should catch up and the transaction will be more streamlined — at least that’s what Isentaeva hopes.
But no matter the difficulties, the crypto listings keep coming. Welcome to the neighborhood, bitcoiners.