Property is the world’s single largest store of wealth, and if the cryptocurrency and blockchain world is seeking an express route to mass adoption, it could do worse than partnering with the real estate industry.

According to a September 2021 report by Savills World Research, the estimated value of all the world’s real estate stands at $326.5 trillion. By comparison, crypto-sector market capitalization was about $1 trillion in mid-July.

The property market, moreover — at least its commercial real estate segment — is also characterized by costly entry barriers and asymmetrical information that favor insiders. Its fees are high, paperwork onerous, and deeds are sometimes defective, falsified or missing. Some properties can take years to move — another way of saying its market is illiquid. All in all, it isn’t surprising that many believe this market is ripe for disruption, particularly through blockchain-enabled tokenization.

This notion of tokenizing real estate isn’t entirely new. As far back as 2019, for example, a 6.5-million-euro villa in Boulogne, outside Paris, was tokenized. One million shares were put up for sale on the Ethereum blockchain, the first property in France ever sold as a blockchain transaction. An individual could have purchased a part of the luxury villa for as little as 6.5 euros.

Will everything be fractionalized?

Last year’s nonfungible token (NFT) breakout — and real properties are nonfungible, i.e., not interchangeable — along with some more supportive regulations, like Regulation Crowdfunding (Reg CF) in the United States, have trained the spotlight more squarely on crypto and property partnerships. This year’s metaverse hype, including Yugo Labs’ record-breaking virtual land auction, has not discouraged activity in the real property world, either.


This feature article by Andrew Singer was originally published on Cointelegraph Magazine (July 22, 2022).