Bitcoin More Than a Fad for Real Estate?

January 17, 2014

Bitcoin has been in real estate news a lot lately. Is it a flash in the pan, or is it something you should consider for your business?

“We’re way past the fad stage,” says Alan Silbert, founder and CEO of BitPremier, a website that lists luxury products for sale using the digital currency and acts as an intermediary for transactions. Silbert addressed a group of real estate professionals and others at Inman Connect in New York on Thursday.

BOND New York recently announced it will be using bitcoin, and Silbert predicts that more businesses are going in that direction. Not only are these companies getting a fair amount of media attention, but Silbert says accepting bitcoin could also bring to a brokerage clients who are younger and more tech-savvy and who have above-average wealth.

“There’s a lot of press value,” he says, but “you’re opening yourself up to another buyer base.”

Digital currencies are not backed by any central banking or governmental authority, which makes many nervous. But Silbert says the technology behind bitcoin is supported by “military-grade cryptography,” and he expects the government to get involved this year.

“The regulators are feeling bitcoin out,” Silbert says. He adds that the U.S. Senate held a largely positive hearing on bitcoin last year, and he predicts “the IRS will probably come out with some guidance this year.”

So how do you go about converting bitcoins to “real” money? Silbert says there are companies out there that can help you minimize the risk.

“The scariest thing right now is the volatility,” he says. “Bitpay and Coinbase can exchange bitcoins to your local currency on a daily basis.”

Even if you’re not ready to start accepting bitcoin, you owe it to your business to know about it.

“Virtual currencies are here to stay,” he says. “At the absolute least, I would implore you to educate yourself [about] bitcoin, because you’re going to have customers wanting to use it.”

—By Meg White, REALTOR® Magazine

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