This year (2018), the fact that the “first house in [fill in location] was sold with Bitcoin” popped up everywhere in the news.
In the end, we won’t know for sure, where the first real estate deal in Bitcoin was closed, but we know for sure that it was somewhere.
However, there are a few challenges, that can make you lose your camisa when doing this.
In my article today, you will learn how not to lose it and how you can reduce your overall risk.
How a Real Estate Transaction with Bitcoin Works
First of all, it is advisable to all parties involved in a real estate transaction with bitcoin have some background information about the currency, such as what it is and how it works.
This article is not about how real estate could be tokenized in the future, it just refers to how a real estate transaction can be done using Bitcoin instead of fiat currency like Dollars and Euros.
Now, that we have this sorted out, let’s continue with the transaction process.
After having knowledge about the basics, the next step is to find a real estate seller that accepts Bitcoin in the first place.
There are not many property portals yet where sellers offer real estate for Bitcoin.
After the usual negotiation phase, and an accepted offer by both parties, you need also to find a title and/or escrow company which will handle the Bitcoin transaction.
As you will see, the title company partially or completely accepting Bitcoin is the key.
It is not always easy to find a seller that accepts this kind of payment. Most sellers are still part of an older generation, to which you would have to explain Bitcoin on a daily basis and it still wouldn’t stick.
But, as always, there are some exceptions to the rule. I know some folks in their seventies who understood the concept right away.
Although there are also challenges for the sellers after receiving Bitcoin, the greater challenge after finding one that accepts Bitcoin is finding title insurance and escrow companies that are comfortable handling cryptocurrency transactions.
Some may insist on the seller cashing out the Bitcoin at once, so the transaction can be treated more like a traditional real estate deal. However, this kind of approach almost renders the whole transaction a bit pointless but is necessary due to legal constraints.
The seller might want to hold all or a part of his Bitcoin after selling his home because he expects the Bitcoin price to increase.
But at least real estate buyers can use their Bitcoin to buy a property, it’s only the sellers that are not able to completely hold on to them.
The First and Only Title Company in the U.S. accepting Bitcoin?
I had to do quite extensive research until I found a title company in the US accepting Bitcoin to its full extent.
Because, as already written above, some say they accept it but make the seller cash out the Bitcoin immediately.
What also happens a lot in the US and other countries, is, that real estate brokers and sellers announce the acceptance of Bitcoin, but this willingness of both parties doesn’t necessarily make Bitcoin payments possible.
What do I mean?
The job of a title or escrow company is to ensure any real estate transaction and receives and disburses to all parties all the money involved.
For example, the real estate commissions that brokers receive also come from title companies. The same goes for sellers.
That means that when a broker or seller says he accepts Bitcoin, he needs to also have at least a title company on the same page.
Without that, the Bitcoin acceptance is just a nice intention and works only partially until the seller has to cash it out before closing the deal.
The title company I found is called Vista Abstract and is a multi-state title company with a modern approach.
Apart from accepting Bitcoin, as already mentioned, they also stepped up transparency for the real estate transaction processes by featuring an app where you can view, upload and download every document the company has and see the status of every transaction in real-time, as it updates.
Temporal but Manageable Challenges
Not only in the US, but also in other countries like for example Costa Rica, more and more home sellers accept Bitcoin as a form of payment.
The reason why there aren’t more sellers accepting this cryptocurrency is the situation with title and escrow companies and/or the fact that in most countries you can’t stipulate Bitcoin as an officially accepted currency in the purchase contracts.
This is of course in the interest of Central Banks who don’t like competition.
The other reason is that most home sellers are in an age group with only little affinity and understanding toward Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
They usually don’t have enough knowledge about it to feel comfortable doing a larger real estate transaction using it.
The other small group of sellers that accept Bitcoin is split into sellers cashing out all the Bitcoin at once, the ones who are holding on to all of it, and the ones who are cashing out only a part of it.
Even if the title company fully accepts Bitcoin, due to the higher volatility of the Bitcoin, it is recommended that as a seller you wouldn’t hold all the Bitcoin you received in the transaction and that you cash out a large amount of it.
Without a title company accepting Bitcoin, you, as a real estate buyer, face the risk of having to do an independent Bitcoin transaction to the seller outside of the traditional real estate transactions, which isn’t backed by legally binding contracts.
Even if the title company doesn’t fully accept Bitcoin like the one mentioned above, it can at least compensate the above risk and handle the cashing out process before closing.
So, a title company willing to handle the transaction involving Bitcoin is always recommended.
As the seller, doing a full Bitcoin transaction, you face the risk of Bitcoin volatility and should cash out the amount with which you are not willing to speculate against fiat currencies after the deal.
If you work with a title company that partially accepts Bitcoin, your volatility risk is a bit reduced, since you have to completely cash out the Bitcoin at once upon receiving it and before the closing.
Imagine how it would be if you had your own healthy luxury home in Costa Rica…
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Real Estate Dealmaker | Crypto-Trader | Author
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