Propy, a technology startup that has focused on bringing NFTs and cryptocurrency to real estate, announced today that it has launched a new title and escrow service that operates using blockchain technology.
The new service is designed to let real estate buyers close deals quickly and securely. In a conversation with Inman, Propy founder and CEO Natalia Karayaneva said the technology should give consumers a better closing experience, while also saving time and effort for real estate professionals.
“The escrow and title business that we are launching will have less manual work,” Karayaneva told Inman, adding that the technology should bring transactions closer to the “click-to-close” experience many real estate players have been chasing for years.
She went on to compare the product to the tracking technology Domino’s Pizza has deployed, saying Propy’s tech uses smart contracts to quickly gather, display and process information. In other words, moving title and escrow onto the blockchain should make it easier for consumers to see where they are in the process, Karayaneva said.
Users can access the blockchain-enabled title and escrow services via Propy’s proprietary platform.
Blockchain is a kind of decentralized ledger of information. Because information isn’t stored in one central place, as is the case for traditional databases, it makes data on a blockchain more secure and less susceptible to hacking. The technology is most associated with cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.
However, Propy can facilitate real estate transactions that take place via cryptocurrency, as well as in dollars, Karayaneva said.
Aside from faster and easier transactions, Karayaneva also argued that handling title and escrow on the blockchain means the process is safer. For example, traditional real estate deals have been subject to instances of wire fraud, in which criminals dupe consumers into sending their money to the wrong destination. Karayaneva said handling title and escrow on the blockchain eliminates such issues.
Karayaneva founded California-based Propy in 2016. In 2017, the company facilitated the sale of an apartment in Kyiv, Ukraine, using blockchain and NFT technology. Propy says the sale was the first time a real estate property sold as an NFT, which stands for non-fungible token. The company has since gone on to raise money by selling digital tokens, score an investment from venture capitalist Tim Draper and launch a way to store U.S. home titles in a crypto wallet, among other things.
The new service that handles title and escrow via blockchain is now available in Arizona, Colorado and Florida. Propy also plans to expand the service across the entire U.S. by the end of the year, according to a statement.
“We have eliminated the ‘worry and wonder’ associated with the purchase process,” Karayaneva added in the statement. “Because the process is transparent, interested buyers and their agents were able to view offer activity and adjust their price points accordingly.”