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We Sold Real Estate on the Blockchain: No Pixels Involvedby@originprotocol
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8,183 reads

We Sold Real Estate on the Blockchain: No Pixels Involved

by Origin ProtocolFebruary 4th, 2023
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Real estate NFTs have become synonymous with exorbitantly priced plots of virtual land across the metaverse. The real estate industry is arguably the oldest asset class on the planet. The cost of using brokers, conveyancers, escrow providers, and other intermediaries adds up quickly. The 3 bedroom home sold for $175,000 fixed in USDC, with instantaneous settlement.
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Real estate NFTs have become synonymous with exorbitantly priced plots of virtual land across the metaverse. From The Sandbox to Decentraland, millions of dollars have traded hands as collectors plant their virtual flags.


As interesting as the concept is, virtual worlds aren’t putting roofs over anyone’s heads.


At Origin, we’ve been laser focused on NFTs since their inception. We’ve been thrilled by the first major expansion of the NFT sector. Our branded marketplace product, Origin Story, now powers native marketplaces for over a dozen leading projects. Our vision for this technology’s potential stretches decades into the future.


So no, we did not sell virtual real estate.


We executed the first-ever sale of a physical property via a real estate NFT marketplace. The marketplace was built for our partners at Roofstock onChain, a Web3 subsidiary of real estate investment heavyweight Roofstock. As of February 3rd, we’ve now completed our 2nd home sale with Roofstock onChain––with many more listings in the pipeline for 2023.

Why Not Just Call Up a Broker?

Take a moment to consider the time, energy, and money that first step initiates.


The real estate industry is arguably the oldest asset class on the planet. Today, the sprawling market has grown to a valuation of over $11T. Despite this, the industry remains riddled with redundant intermediaries.


For homeowners, the impact of this archaic system is severe.


The cost of using brokers, conveyancers, escrow providers, and other intermediaries adds up quickly. As a result, sellers often incur fees as high as 10% of a home’s valuation.


Furthermore, the red tape involved means that transfers take up to 60 days, if not longer. How can this still be the case when our information flows run in real time?


Transparency, paperwork, fraud, low speed, intermediaries (Leax)

A Successful Proof of Concept for Real Estate NFTs

Our marketplace’s first sale illustrates the immense disruptive power of tokenizing real world assets. The 3 bedroom home sold for $175,000 fixed in USDC, with instantaneous settlement. February 3rd marks the 2nd home sale through Roofstock onChain, with the buyer purchasing a 3-bedroom home in Alabama in a matter of minutes.


Meanwhile, the seller’s fees totaled a mere 3% – less than half of traditional industry norms. This may have been the first sale of its kind, but the benefits for buyers and sellers are glaringly obvious.

Code as law instead of many intermediaries (CB Insights)

Putting Real World Assets On Chain

Tokenizing real world assets is magnitudes more complex than minting a simple jpeg.


Regulatory constraints in major industries are a necessary consideration to ensure compliance and consumer protection. Further, we’re building at the bleeding edge of NFT utility by moving towards real world assets.


However, this is a challenge we relish. Tokenizing physical property has been a complex, but fruitful, process.

How it Works

  1. Roofstock onChain titles each home as a single member limited liability company (LLC)
  2. Ownership of the LLC is tokenized as an NFT
  3. Buyers verify their identities to gain soulbound token-gated access to Roofstock onChain
  4. The property can then be transferred on-chain with full legal compliance


Roofstock’s veteran team undertakes comprehensive inspections of all properties prior to listing, as well as document verification. This information is publicly accessible on the marketplace, granting you the necessary insights to make an informed decision.


Screenshot of the marketplace and listings

Roofstock’s branded real estate marketplace, powered by Origin

We’re Still Early

Perhaps the greatest barrier to blockchain adoption is the current user experience. While strides have been made in recent years, the overall UX remains light-years behind Web2’s seamless interface.


Transacting on-chain requires a significant amount of technical knowledge. New adopters need to understand self custody wallets, transferring assets, and using blockchain explorers before even attempting a first purchase.


When it comes to physical real estate NFTs, onboarding becomes an even more significant challenge. Given their nascence and the size of a property investment, sourcing willing participants is difficult at present.


We’re committed to breaking down these barriers by developing accessible all-in-one platforms for safe and seamless NFT exchange.

Real Estate Tokenization Allows for Broad DeFi Integration

Despite everything we’ve achieved as a space, we’re still only a hair off the starting blocks in terms of DeFi and NFT innovation.


NFT real estate projects open the door for thriving DeFi integrations that further reduce reliance on centralized entities. Teller, a leading DeFi lending protocol, launched a housing-backed lending product in partnership with Tower Fund Capital (TFC). TFC is a private lender for commercial real estate with a $140m debt fund. Historically, access to this capital has been resigned to a select few. That is, until now.


DeFi liquidity providers now have the opportunity to earn yield on real estate-secured loans that were previously severely gatekept. Additionally, prospective investors can borrow quick capital to finance their purchases.


This implementation clearly illustrates the symbiotic power of DeFi and NFTs to bolster inclusion. When harnessed correctly, these tools can empower ordinary people to participate in finance directly, without being ring fenced by traditional banking.

Marching Towards a Blockchain Based Paradigm

It’s absurd that hulking industries like real estate, automotives, and more are still using daisy chains of redundant intermediaries in 2023. These are multi-trillion dollar industries that serve a population of eight billion people across the planet. Each year, these monoliths bleed massive revenue due to fraudulent actors.


More importantly, ordinary individuals are the ones who bear the brunt of these easily preventable vulnerabilities. In the face of a rapidly spiraling global economy, reducing burdens on consumers is of paramount importance.


Ignoring the potential applications of NFTs and DeFi for real world assets is guaranteed to be a costly decision in coming years. Truly, there’s no ethical excuse for maintaining an archaic and easily fallible status quo when blockchain technology exists.


We’re here to drive that change through tireless innovation––pushback be damned. Traditional industries have preyed on ordinary people for far too long. We’re privileged to carry the torch of the cypherpunk dream toward fresh frontiers that empower everyone, crypto native or not.


If you are a creator or brand interested in learning more about Origin Story, contact us at [email protected].