How blockchain will affect the real estate market

Blockchain has the potential to change the financial industry as we know it.  If the bitcoin crowd has their way the worlds monetary policy, and banks along with it will be turned on their head.  While we might not see that kind of global revolution, blockchain has disruptive potential.  Even the real estate industry could see some massive changes as the adoption of blockchain technology grows over the coming years.  

The blockchain revolution reminds people of the internet revolution.  The internet was a new technology that had a lot of potential but nobody knew what to do with it.  30 years later and now the world would not be able to live without it.  The blockchain revolution feels very similar.  This is technology that is very powerful but it hasn’t found out exactly how it will reach mass adoption yet.  So lets take a look at how blockchain could affect the world of real estate.  Even though blockchain is still in its infancy, there are already plans underway to disrupt real estate.  Lets take a look at some of the possibilities we may see in the future.

Property Titles

In recent years many cities and counties have put tax records online.  This has been a major convenience to residents and anyone seeking the public records in general.  However, blockchain has something much bigger in mind.  A blockchain is at its core a decentralized ledger with no central authority to trust.  Another aspect is that its possible to prove ownership of an asset of something.  When these properties are combined its easy to see how all ownership of properties could be stored on a blockchain.  Before we get into all the ways this can help reduce friction in the real estate world, lets first talk about who the losers would be if this gets implemented. Title Insurance is a 15 billion dollar a year industry.  This means the business of guaranteeing a valid deed is costing individuals that much per year.  If properties could be verified via the blockchain using a private/public key solution that number goes to zero.  Talk about disruption, implementing this solution would destroy an entire industry overnight. The good news is that other industries would spring up and property owners would have much more control over their assets.  Imagine being able to add verified information about your property to the blockchain in real time with no fees.  You get a new roof?  You can have the roofing company sign all the details of the type of roof, the warranty and all other information into the blockchain for anyone to see.  Any other sort of changes to the house could be logged onto the blockchain as well.

Smart Contracts

Put simply, blockchain technology is great at cutting out middlemen.  Banks and Lawyers in particular come to mind in terms of a real estate transaction.  Smart contracts are contracts that are recorded on the blockchain and will not execute unless all terms a met, the most amazing part of this transaction is that no human intervention is needed in order for the contract to execute.  So lets paint a picture of what the future could look like.  You work with The Reeves Team to find your dream home.  You come to an agreement with the seller on terms.  The Reeves Team writes a smart contract that you and the seller both agree too.  The contract states that within 10 days the buyer must sign off that they have inspected the home and approve, it would also state that the agreed upon amount of funds must be deposited into the smart contract by a specified date.  Once those funds have been added and the buyer and seller have both signed the smart contract on the date of closing the smart contract would automatically move the deed from the seller to the buyer and move the funds from the smart contract to the seller.  If all terms were not met the funds would simply be returned to the buyer.

Democratization of ownership

Imagine if you wanted to invest in a new casino being built in Las Vegas.  Unless you are very wealthy and well connected your dream is not going to come to reality.  With blockchain that all changes.  If the builder wants to raise funds they can issue tokens that represent ownership stake in the property.  Investors can then purchase those tokens at very small increments.  Right now if you were to invest in a Las Vegas casino as its being built you would potentially have to wait years to liquidate.  With the blockchain you could sell your shares to another willing buyer instantaneously on a secondary market.  

While blockchain is still very new hopefully this article helps you to see the potential that exists to drive efficiencies and create friction-less transactions in Real Estate and every other financial marketplace.  We believe you will start to see a major shift in the real estate market to blockchain based solutions in the coming decade.

Do you agree that blockchain is a game changer or is this all just hype?  Let us know if the comment section below! 

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