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One of the success stories of last year was most certainly bitcoin - the cryptocurrency which is now worth more than double its value at the start of 2017. One bitcoin is now worth around £12,000, up from less than a penny seven years ago.
As this cryptocurrency becomes more mainstream, it's time to look at how it is influencing the property world and how that could affect estate and letting agents in years to come.What is bitcoin?
First launched almost a decade ago in January 2009, bitcoin is a cryptocurrency which is decentralised from the global banking system. Payments made using the system can be done without incurring any fees. This is due to the blockchain, a ledger maintained by so-called 'miners' who are rewarded in bitcoins for carrying out transactions.
The total value of bitcoin is now in excess of $180 billion and there are believed to be over 16 million bitcoins in circulation.
Bitcoin payments are instant and advocates claim one of the systemís main benefits is that it can't be interfered with by Governments and traditional banks. It is, however, a volatile system which could be damaged by restrictions made by regulators.
It is, though, clearly a growing phenomenon and one that represents a step into largely unknown territory in our increasingly technological world.How is bitcoin being used in the property industry?
Perhaps a little surprisingly, bitcoin is already making waves in the UK property industry as forward thinkers look to adopt its hype and growing popularity to their advantage.
As far back as 2015, there is evidence of letting agents accepting bitcoin as a payment method for rents and deposits. However, the take up of this offer back then was likely to have been minuscule.
Fast forward a couple of years and the words bitcoin and property are becoming increasingly intertwined.
Last September, property development firm The Collective announced that it would be accepting bitcoin payments from its tenants - reportedly the first landlord in England to do so.
And since then, a number of estate agencies have confirmed that they will now accept bitcoin payments from customers.
By October 2017, one property seller in London insisted that they would only be accepting bitcoin payment for their £17 million home in Notting Hill. This raised questions about how bills for estate agent commission fees and stamp duty would be paid should the transaction go through as desired.
The latest development is that two properties have now been sold using bitcoin - which are believed to be the first property sales made via bitcoin in the world.
The two properties were marketed by new homes firm Go Homes. The first, a four-bedroom detached home in Colchester, was valued at £350,000. While the second, a four-bed townhouse in Hertfordshire, was valued at £595,000.
It is thought the HM Land Registry will record this sale as being made in bitcoin, but there is some confusion as to whether it will officially recognise alternative payment methods and cryptocurrencies.
It's likely that as more sales are claimed to be made via bitcoin, the government will assess the situation and offer a formal decision on how bitcoin can be considered.
Bitcoin is unlikely to take over from cash anytime soon, but that doesn't mean agents should ignore it. If more customers want the option to pay in bitcoin, then agents should facilitate this or risk losing out to competitors who do.
Here at Gnomen, we provide cutting-edge property software and websites for estate and letting agents. Our cloud-based systems mean you can run your business from anywhere at any time, all in one place.
To find out more about what we can offer you, please get in touch with us on 0208 123 9019 or book a free demo here.
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