Queensland’s peak real estate body says vendors need to think carefully about accepting cryptocurrencies as payment for the sale of their homes.
- A Gold Coast real estate agent says he will accept digital currencies as payment
- Experts say cryptocurrencies are highly volatile and risky
- Bitcoin, as one example, records dramatic changes in value
The owners of at least two Gold Coast properties currently listed for sale will allow buyers to pay with digital currencies, like Bitcoin.
The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) said cryptocurrencies were approved for use in Australia.
But corporate affairs manager Olivier Bjorksater-Bleyock advised vendors and potential buyers to be cautious.
“When it comes to using cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin for real estate, it can become a little tricky because of the high volatility,” Mr Bjorksater-Bleylock said.
“So to actually assign an actual price in Bitcoin, or any other cryptocurrency to a property, can be quite difficult.
“It means then you’d have to negotiate that price in a very short period of time.”
Swimmer to trade house for Bitcoin
Gold Coast real estate agent Josh Longhitano is selling a four-bedroom villa at Isle of Capri with a price guide of $1.5 million.
Mr Longhitano said the vendor, Olympic swimmer Cam McEvoy, will trade the house for Bitcoin.
The 27-year-old bought the house in 2016 for $1.1 million.
Mr Longhitano said he had strong interest from potential buyers and was currently negotiating with a crypto company.
“We’d love to sell it through crypto, 100 per cent,” Mr Longhitano said.
“If someone comes along with a cash deal we will accept it, or a finance deal, we will accept it.
“But we’re just giving more options.
REIQ said it was not the first time a Queensland vendor has attempted to find a tech-savvy buyer.
Mr Bjorksater-Bleyock said a Sovereign Island property was listed in 2017.
“A couple was selling their property for 500 bitcoins, back then Bitcoin was worth around $12,000 per coin,” Mr Bjorksater-Bleylock.
“So it was about a $6 million sale that they were looking at for that property.
“But since then, we haven’t seen any activity within the cryptocurrency market for properties, until now, recently.”
Digital transformation is happening
Associate Professor Vallipuram Muthu from Griffith University’s Network Security and Blockchain Research Group said crypto was not banned in Australia, but he echoed the warnings to investors.
He said most countries were examining ways of introducing central bank digital currencies which would give governments control and help to possibly reduce volatility.
“The digital transformation is happening in the world and this is one aspect of that.
“It is just evolution happening and possibly it’s going to happen more and more, not only in the property market, in other aspects as well.”
Not a ‘legitimate’ way to buy house
Finance expert Dr Tracey West said Bitcoin had little tangible value and she had concerns about the legal recognition of a property transaction if it were to occur in Bitcoin.
“It is not widely accepted as a means of payment, its price fluctuations mean that it does not store value, and it is not a common way of measuring the value of goods and services.
“The buyer/seller may have difficulty finding finance and conveyancing companies and insurance that will deal with a transaction in Bitcoin.
“I don’t think it is a legitimate way to purchase a house.”
Dr West said the large price fluctuations meant purchasers might get to settlement day with less currency than they thought they had.
Another risk in holding Bitcoin is theft, where hackers can steal the digital tokens from online accounts.
“I do think that the underlying blockchain technology is exciting and will bring about a lot of change to how work is done for many industries,” Dr West said.
“But we have a way to go yet.”