How blockchain companies will disrupt the Real Estate industry in 2018
When it comes to buying and selling a property, one should always be on the lookout. Risks related to real estate buying and selling, such as fraud, human errors in papers, slow processing speed, bureaucracy, and non-transparent transactions, can turn real estate deals into a nightmare instead of a pleasant experience.
To solve these issues, startup founders are thinking of implementing blockchain technology in the real estate industry.
To show the most common use cases of blockchain in real estate, we have selected 14 companies that are developing blockchain platforms in this sector and ranked them according to the following criteria: availability of live product/beta/MVP; money raised; roadmap stage; scalability; and CB ranking (where appropriate).
Be aware that some of the platforms on this list might still be at the early stages of their development or even at the concept stage.
Location: Palo Alto, USA
Money raised: $15 million
Propy is an international real estate marketplace with a decentralized title registry. Finance Magnates reported that in September 2017, Propy ICO raised $15 million in its PRO Token Sale to put the global real estate market on the blockchain. In August 2017, the startup collaborated with the government of Ukraine to allow foreign investors to buy real estate based on blockchain. As a result, in October 2017, TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington bought an apartment in Kiev via a blockchain transaction. Propy also partnered with Leju Holdings Limited, a real estate services provider in China, with the same purpose: to facilitate online blockchain real estate purchases by foreign investors.
Currently, Propy allows the clients to search for properties in San Francisco, Dubai, Beijing, New York, Moscow, Los Angeles, Miami, and London in their native language. Each property has its own page where the buyers can find information about the features and location as well as get in touch with the owner. The clients can pay for the property in bitcoins.
Location: San Francisco, USA
Money raised: $38 million as of April 2018
The purpose of this blockchain real estate startup is to take hard-to-trade assets such as real estate and private equity and turn them into tokenized securities that comply with Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations. Harbor helps conduct compliance checks of investors, such as the KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) checks. The platform uses Regulated Tokens (R-Tokens) to digitalize tangible real estate assets. Accredited investors cannot sell the R-Tokens to non-accredited investors. Such an approach helps to avoid potentially fraudulent transactions. The financial identity data is stored in the following three ways:
- by being stored in Harbor,
- by being stored within agencies or vendors that provided the data,
- by being written to the blockchain.
But the most remarkable feature of the startup is the ability to resell tokenized security. Such tokenization will allow the company to increase trading. The R-Token is based on Ethereum’s ERC20 technical infrastructure, making it theoretically tradable on any crypto exchanges that support such tokens. However, the company faces a challenge as no exchanges have legal permissions to trade security tokens. Harbor is planning to launch its first securities token with a client this summer.
Location: New York, USA
ShelterZoom is a blockchain-based platform for real estate transactions that can be integrated with any real estate website. Built on the Ethereum platform, ShelterZoom includes a dashboard, a widget, and a mobile app that the buyers and buyer agents can instantly submit offers from any online real estate listing. Each transaction participant can get notifications in the offer process and instantly chat with one another via a user-friendly interface according to established protocol.
ShelterZoom has been named Company of the Year – Blockchain by CIO Applications.
Also, the company has won SIIA CODiE Award for Best Emerging Technology 2018, the first blockchain company and the first PropTech company ever to win this award.
In terms of adoption, within five months, ShelterZoom has received sign-ups from 22 countries. It is live in more than 10 US states and Ontario, Canada, and is in the process of rolling out to several countries including a major real estate aggregator in Australia.
We suggest you listen to this podcast to understand why ShelterZoom didn’t want to do an ICO to raise a crazy amount of money before having a real business – it is the first and perhaps the only company that did this, which should make the blockchain community proud.
It is worth mentioning that ShelterZoom is the only real estate technology company selected by such awards as The Blockchain Startup of 2018 Award from the Blocks Awards and SIIA CODiE Awards.
Location: Wilmington, USA
Ubitquity is a SaaS blockchain platform and API for real estate record-keeping. The platform allows its clients to input property information and record documents through the blockchain. Ubitquity platform + API provides a system that enables parallel recording and tracking of a current legacy document and a new digitalized one.
Founded in 2015, the company already has a client base and a proven track record. Ubitquity guarantees the solution to the following frequent problems that may occur during real estate deals:
- Errors in public records: Blockchain does not make errors as humans do.
- Unpaid bills remaining from previous owners: Ubitquity can prevent such issues by tracking the chain of custody.
- Illegal actions: Ubitquity ensures the accuracy and verifiability of all documents.
- Will-related problems: All data related to heirs and their property rights will be recorded in the blockchain.
- Forgeries: The Ubitquity platform prevents forging due to the blockchain’s cryptographic nature and the relationships with partners in the financial and title sectors.
- Property ownership transfers: World’s first property ownership transfer was made via the Ubitquity platform in June 2016.
Location: London, UK; Prague, Czech Republic
Money raised: $180 million as of 2017
BitRent is the first blockchain real estate platform that connects property developers with investors worldwide and attracts investments at the early stages of construction. It is possible to invest small amounts and protect them by recording them in the decentralized registry. BitRent also allows real estate transactions via smart contracts and has its own coin, an RNTB token. Here’s how the system works:
- RFID tags are integrated into all significant construction elements.
- BitRent software groups the integrated tags.
- The data from RFID tags is transferred into the blockchain in real estate.
- Smart contracts track the signals from RFID tags, thus making it possible to track the construction process.
- Fulfillment of a smart contract for each type of construction work triggers an RNTB token payment transaction.
Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Money raised: 250 ETH (about $147,000) as of February 2018
With Blocksquare, real estate companies can create and offer tokenized real estate investment deals directly on their websites. According to Blocksquare CEO Denis Petrovcic, tokenized blockchain for real estate tears down the financial barriers between investors and properties. Blocksquare’s tokenization model allows selling a real estate asset to up to 100 buyers. Here’s how everything works:
- Blocksquare’s blockchain-powered protocol connects the so-called PropToken smart contracts with the necessary information from land registry systems to a key real estate object.
- The PropToken smart contract defines rules and regulations for each asset and securely manages the ownership.
- PropTokens are granted in exchange for ETH, while the generated rent is paid in BST tokens.
- Blocksquare clients can buy or sell the PropTokens at any time by using their decentralized exchange.
Blocksquare is planning to close the first tokenized real estate deal by the beginning of summer 2018. A real estate object that they are planning to tokenize is a student accommodation house. At the moment, the platform accepts two currencies, ETH and EUR.
Averspace is Singapore’s first C2C (consumer to consumer) blockchain real estate startup. It is a platform that connects landlords/property owners directly with buyers or tenants for buying/selling or rental deals in the real estate sector, without any agents involved. Here’s how Averspace works:
- The owner lists their property on the platform.
- The interested buyers or tenants get in touch with the owner via online chat.
- The owner and the buyer or tenant conclude a digital tenancy agreement.
- Both parties sign the agreement with digital signatures.
- The tenant securely pays a monthly deposit for the property.
- The owner hands over the property to the buyer or tenant.
Averspace already has video testimonials from satisfied clients. The platform also has an easy-to-use mobile app. Averspace founders also have another project, Real Estate Doc – cloud-based enterprise software that offers document management, digital signing, payments, and analytics tools for real estate companies.
These were 7 startups with the working beta or semi-working prototypes and the next part is dedicated to those which are currently at earlier stages.
Money raised: $1,500,000 as of 2017
ATLANT is an international real estate blockchain platform with two key services: tokenized ownership and P2P rentals. For example, let’s see how tokenization works within the platform, according to ATLANT’s website:
- The owner uploads the property details to ATLANT.
- ATLANT verifies if the property meets the requirements to be listed.
- An attorney or another representative of the owner checks if the property is in good condition and no debt from the owner’s side.
- ATLANT tokenizes the real estate asset, forming a direct relationship between the number of tokens and the asset’s total value.
- ATLANT creates custom tokens for the property owner and places the Property Token Offering (PTO) on its trading platform. Investors worldwide can buy the tokens, acquiring fractional ownership of the property until the asset is fully funded.
- The payment equivalent in the selected cryptocurrency is transferred to the owner.
- The investors then receive the number of the owner’s (PTO) tokens they have purchased on the ATLANT platform.
- The PTO tokens start trading on ATLANT’s decentralized exchange, a secondary market for PTO tokens.
- Everybody can buy or sell even the smallest part of the property by buying or selling the corresponding PTO tokens. Those who bought the tokens can get profit from the rental income of the property, proportionally to the number of tokens that they own, and monetize changes in token prices, reflecting the property price growth over time.
Location: Milan area, Italy
BrikBit is the blockchain-powered ecosystem that develops and manages entire operations for the real estate industry. Within this ecosystem, all shareholders can benefit from blockchain technology. Each real estate object will have its own blockchain with custom rules and features, depending on the country and effective legislation. While still being at the real estate ICO stage, BrikBit promises to cover the following use cases:
- Opportunity for construction workers to invest in real estate ventures;
- Opportunity for buyers to pay for the property in small installments on a mortgage basis;
- Opportunity to crowdfund property renovation costs.
#10. CryptoProperties (CPROP)
Location: Los Angeles area, USA
CPROP is a blockchain-based real estate transaction management system that allows the buyer, seller, and their respective service providers to transparently and securely close the real estate deals. The platform promises to clearly display each step of the entire transaction process, accompanied by information about all required documents to complete the transaction. Everything is intended to be visible and editable, including the details of people who are involved in the transaction. The platform will incorporate smart contract plugins to manage required escrows. The finalized documents will be converted to PDF and hashed to the blockchain.
The platform was initially designed for the US market because the US-based real estate transactions are infamous for their complexity, length, and high costs. However, the platform is easily adaptable to real estate markets outside the US, and the founders are already discussing the collaboration opportunities with property portals in Europe and Asia.
CPROP blockchain real estate startup is targeted at buyers and sellers and other specialists in the real estate industry, such as brokers, agents, inspectors, contractors, insurers, etc.
Location: Seattle, USA
SMARTRealty applies smart contract technology to everyday real estates transactions such as rental, purchase, and sale. Here’s how the system works:
- Two parties conclude a real estate sales, purchase, or rental agreement via the SmartRealty platform by using smart contract technology. The agreement includes all necessary terms and conditions, such as payment dates and amounts, the validity period of the agreement, penalties, termination, etc. It is possible to set up the contract behavior according to the parties’ requirements – for example, set up automatic renewals, termination upon expiration, notifications in case of conditions violation, etc.
- The tenant makes a payment in any currency, such as ETH, BTC, LTC, USD, or EUR. They can also pay in SMARTRealty’s own currency – RLTY tokens.
- The payment amount is automatically converted to RLTY tokens, if necessary.
- After the payment, the contract comes into force, and the transaction is completed.
Currently, SMARTRealty is at a beta stage. The founders are planning to launch the fully functional platform in June 2019 officially. Another plan to be introduced in 2020 is the SMARTMortgage platform, which will allow people to finance home purchases in cryptocurrency and convert them to other currencies, including fiat.
#12. Imbrex (former Rexmls)
Location: New York, US; Zug, Switzerland
Money raised: 13,350 ETH (about $3,845,000) as of September 2017
Imbrex syndicates real estate data into a global marketplace for buyers, landlords, and firms. At Imbrex, the real estate data is locally sourced, validated, and secured via the Ethereum blockchain. Here’s how Imbrex works:
- The property owner information about their property for sale on Imbrex and is rewarded for participation in the system.
- Other Imbrex users are rewarded for verifying and approving the information that the owner has listed.
- The reward offered is REX tokens, a digital currency that the users can exchange for services or products on REX, such as comparable market reports or home inspection reports. The users also can exchange tokens for fiat currency such as US dollars.
As a result, the platform users work together to create a curated database of real estate objects.
The own open database of Imbrex, the RexIndexer, bundles the blockchain real estate data and pushes it through a sequence of distributed systems, ensuring its ongoing availability to portal participants. Imbrex Nodes interact with the Ethereum blockchain, IPFS, and the RexIndexer. By running an Imbrex Node, the users can locally store their data and download any of the world’s participating markets.
Location: Moscow, Russia
Bloquid is a blockchain platform that enables tokenization through a reverse mortgage with the help of the Mortgage Unit (MU) token. The token has already passed the proof of concept stage, and the company has already made the first test issue of this token, secured by a real mortgage claim. It is possible to issue the MU tokens in various blockchain systems such as Ethereum, NEO, Bitshares, Waves, NXT, and others. The workflow is as follows:
- The property owner signs and officially registers a mortgage agreement.
- The mortgage registration statement is secured by a digital signature and securely stored in the database.
- The mortgage is recorded in a smart contract.
- The MU tokens are issued, and the token loan agreement is signed.
Bloquid has the following benefits:
- An opportunity for real estate owners to instantly invest in the crypto economy without high transaction costs in fiat currencies.
- Stable crypto tokens, which the investors and traders can use to fix their profits without involving the fiat currencies.
- A new market of the crypto mortgage.
- An opportunity to add value to the crypto economy with minimum expenses.
- Increased capitalization of the crypto market.
#14. Smart Law LLC
Location: Hayden, US
Smart Law founders say that their blockchain real estate startup works rather like an electronic notary. Smart Law creates a legal bridge between legacy legal systems and innovative blockchain technology. The platform and the mobile app offer the following remarkable features:
- Real estate loans based on smart contracts. Buyers can get smart contract loans via a Smart Law platform, with an initial payment in ETH.
- Access to lines of credit. Owners who list their property at Smart Law get instant access to Smart Trust Equity Lines of Credit via smart contracts.
- Instant transfers. Clients can buy or sell their assets in real-time, without any personal meetings or paperwork.
- No title insurance. With Smart Law, the real estate owners will no longer have to ensure a title for each transfer because everything will be stored in a real estate blockchain.
- Multisignature. It is possible to protect the wallets holding the property with multiple signatures that ensure multilayer security.
- Smart contract option markets. The clients can place bids or call options for any real estate object listed with smart contract option markets.
Are you planning to buy or sell a property in the future? If yes, you can no longer worry about it and be sure that this process will be much simpler and secure than nowadays, thanks to the revolutionary blockchain technologies.