They say a home will sell if the price is right. What if that price is (a volatile) 250 bitcoin?
Realtors listing a luxury oceanfront home on the market for nine months in Clearwater Beach, Florida, are putting that question to the test. Buyers interested in the Belleair Shores property can now pay with the red-hot digital currency, or what would amount to about $4 million in regular old USD — dealer’s choice.
Clearwater Beach agent Nehad Alhassan, who is marketing the home with senior agent and his business partner, Martin Donovan at Sand Key Realty, says they aren’t leveraging bitcoin simply as a marketing ploy. The cryptocurrency price tag has nevertheless put a welcome spotlight on the property, which the agent duo has listed since it went on the market in April for $4.6 million.
Far from a bitcoin bandwagoner, Alhassan, a rookie agent with a background in IT and finance, has been familiarizing himself with the cryptocurrency market since 2012 and is the author of a robust blog all about bitcoin. The Realtor and bitcoin security expert can explain how bitcoin works for real estate and did so this week for a local Tampa Bay television station.
Donovan, an industry veteran, meanwhile, complements Alhassan’s tech and financial knowledge with a deep understanding of the real estate business.
“In the past year, we have seen bitcoin becoming more legitimate,” Alhassan said. The CBOE futures stock exchange is now trading in bitcoin futures, and the price of bitcoin — highly prone to fluctuation — currently sits around $17,400 with predictions it could rise to $18,000 and continue to rally much higher in coming years.
According to Alhassan, when it comes to selling the property — which as a completely modernized four-bedroom, 4,000 square foot-plus property designed by a Frank Lloyd Wright student in the late ’50s, is no dud — the value of the cryptocurrency goes beyond the novelty factor.
Offering the Belleair Shores home at 120 Gulf Boulevard in exchange for bitcoin may garner new interest for the property by attracting more overseas buyers. (They’ve also reduced the price over time; the beachfront home was later priced at $4.2 million and is now available at $3.998 million after the original list price).
Bitcoin transactions, verified digitally by an unchanging ledger called a blockchain, make it easier for foreign investors to make an offer and facilitate a deal.
“Bitcoin is allowing me to send money directly 24 hours a day, seven days a week, within 10 minutes, as long as the network is not congested,” explained Alhassan.
Only 1 percent of Americans are buying real estate in bitcoin at the moment, with the majority of bitcoin investors coming from Japan, Southeast Asia and China, Alhassan said. And the Sunshine State is an attractive market to these real estate buyers for tax reasons, according to the Florida-born agent.
Of course, two key stakeholders had to write off on Alhassan’s plan: the homeowner, and the co-listing agents’ broker.
Alhassan said he is glad to be working at an independent brokerage so decisions are made without all the red tape to go through (other brokerage companies would have to get the nod from corporate, he said), but he’s not advising that all agents flock to the cryptocurrency. He describes it still as “highly risky” and says it’s something people should educate themselves on before jumping in.
In the case of the Belleair Shores property, if a bitcoin offer is successful, the seller will, in actuality, be paid in U.S. dollars.
“We will facilitate that for him,” said Alhassan, who has a law firm that handles these types of transactions and manages the title change. The seller, who is pretty financially savvy, wasn’t difficult to convince to try the bitcoin approach.
“I think the seller has to grasp and understand it, and be comfortable in doing the transaction with me. You have to have that trust,” said Alhassan.
Whether the property sells to a cash buyer or a bitcoin party, the Clearwater Beach Realtor is pretty happy about the new “overwhelming” interest stirred up on his co-listing.
Curious to know more about bitcoin? Inman is running a session at Inman Connect New York in January on the topic featuring agent Piper Moretti. Save your seat here.