Propify, an Australian company that launched in January 2017, aims to use blockchain technology to create an online repository of property listings, home appraisal data, and client reviews of real estate agents. Right now, the company offers listings in California, Arizona and Australia, but plans to expand across the U.S.
Blockchain basically refers to a ledger system distributed across participants’ computers, and is how most cryptocurrencies keep track of transactions and ownership. In Propify’s case, the company hopes to use a modified version of the ethereum blockchain it calls QUALIS to permanently provide a more accurate record of everything having to do with real estate sales, CEO Joel Leslie told Inman.
It works like this: homeowners and buyers, Realtors, brokers and renters can all enter information into Propify’s QUALIS blockchain for a permanent record of online real estate listings. Propify then uses a tool it calls “Block Explorer” to publish these listings directly on various social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube — instead of a central repository. Propify calls this strategy “No-Portal,” in a sly nod to its desire to take on Zillow and realtor.com. The company’s leaders say that its listings have been specifically tailored so that they fit well on social media platforms.
“We started to build a product to help real estate agents, Realtors and brokers, better communicate and interact with the consumer,” said Leslie, who worked on real estate technology for Australia’s Raine & Horne and built portals for various companies over the last decade.
He added that he and co-founder Stephen Sharry were interested in reaching to people who would consider buying property but not actively scouring traditional sites like Zillow and Realtor.com.
Propify, which recently did a test run for listings in Southern California and Arizona, plans to launch its console for agents to manage property listings on social media next week. The full Block Explorer listing database will come out at the end of March.
“We’ve used that technology to display listings,” said Leslie. “So instead of a bank listing or a bank transaction, it’s actually a property update for each of those blocks.”
Over the last year, another startup called StreetWire has also used blockchain technology to create a permanent repository of property data. Others have used cryptocurrency to reduce commissions or, eventually, connect cryptocurrency tokens to property — a move that, while Leslie believes will be possible with time, is not as important as creating an immutable real estate database that cannot be altered or changed with time.
“They’re more concentrated on using bitcoin to transact real estate online, which is something that will happen but it’s a long way off,” he said. “The most important thing is to make business of the blockchain of today.”
While Propify received a part of its funds through investments from Australian private equity firms, it just launched an initial currency offering (ICO) for early backers of the program. An ICO is a way for cryptocurrency and other blockchain-based startups to raise funds by selling their own customized tokens in the hopes that they will grow in value.
In this case, Propify tokens are titled “REAL ESTATE Tokens” and cost $1.30 USD until the end of the ICO on March 2. Each token is worth a small percentage of the company’s revenues and function as shares.