- Nolonwabo Mahanjana
The one underlying technology that is poised to have the biggest impact on the industry is blockchain. First implemented by the anonymous founder of Bitcoin in 2008, blockchain is a digital ledger that records transactions in a public and decentralised manner. More specifically, blockchain compiles a transaction record into a “block”, secures it using cryptography, and distributes it to all nodes on the network for recording and validation. This public distribution model ensures that there is no single central “authority” validating transactions, but rather a distributed network of connected devices that must accept and record a transaction. The implications for data storage and validation are tremendous, with a majority of experts believing that more than 10% of the world’s GDP information will be stored on blockchain technology by 2025 (2015 World Economic Survey). Within the real-estate industry, there are several use-case applications for blockchain that are currently being deployed, with countless others still in development.
The most promising real-estate blockchain application is facilitating global transparency in property ownership and title registry.
Currently, there is no global standard for recording ownership and title in property. In the US, regulations vary by state with inefficient and manual processes driving offline records and transactions. At a global level, many countries have land registries that are corrupt, mismanaged, or poorly kept. The World Bank estimates that 70% of the global population lacks access to basic land titling.
This lack of transparency in property ownership results in corruption and abuse, often at the expense of hard-working citizens. Furthermore, countries with a lack of financial transparency saw the fewest investment dollars in property deals, with the top-10 most transparent markets attracting 75% of global investment in real-estate (JLL).
Blockchain allows countries around the world to develop a real-time public database of property use and ownership that could create immediate transparency and trust in the purchase and sale transaction process. Land ownership and individual properties could have a digital identity on the blockchain, and title searches could be done instantly. Transferring of assets could be recorded on the blockchain, with a distributed ledger model eliminating fraud and abuse. Sweden is already trailing a blockchain powered land registry, and is expected to save over $100m per year on reductions in paperwork and fraud.
Blockchain-based Smart Contracts will enhance the speed of transactions while cutting out the middle man.
Smart contracts are a “set of promises, specified in digital form, including protocols within which parties perform on these promises” according to Nick Szabo, the founder of the term in 1994. To put it simply, smart contracts are digital contracts that get automatically executed with a pre-determined set of rules which then get recorded on the blockchain. Within the real-estate industry, smart contracts can be used to optimise transactions while eliminating all the middle-men that add costs and obscurity into the process.
Lease agreements could be recorded on the blockchain, with each party digitally signing a smart contract that details rent terms, deposits, property details, and ownership. The smart contract would then initiate lease payments automatically, and would know when to terminate payments based on the expiration of the lease. The lease negotiation process would also be improved, as the reviewing and redlining of leases would be done in one digital document recorded on the blockchain, thereby eliminating the potential for stealthy changes in lease negotiations during back and forth emails and revisions.
Transaction financing could also be streamlined through blockchain-based smart contracts, thereby alleviating the expensive and time consuming manual processes currently in place. The average time to close a commercial mortgage is three months, with layers of middlemen and offline documents and paperwork needed during the due diligence process. Properties that are registered on the blockchain would simplify the due diligence process, and smart contracts could enforce loan terms between borrower and lender. This is especially critical in cross-border transactions, where multiple layers of intermediaries exist in the process. Settlement and fund transfers could happen instantaneously, with each country’s banks and settlement agents recording the transactions in the public ledger.
While still in its early life cycle phase, block chain technology is already starting to transform the real-estate industry worldwide.
As the industry continues to evolve, we will see major shifts towards the use of blockchain enabled technology that will help drive transparency and access to property ownership around the world.
Wealth Migrate was one of the first FinTech enabled online investment marketplaces to utilise blockchain technology. Our global vision is to solve the wealth gap by empowering the 99% and providing them access to invest in commercial real-estate worldwide from as little as $1. The only way to achieve this goal is via blockchain enabled technology that reduces our friction costs and enables global investors to invest via a trusted and transparent platform.
We currently use blockchain to record individual investment transactions, but are currently working on enabling the following applications:
Investor Management – Used for Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) investor checks, portfolio and wallet management, AI-based investor guidance, and smart contracts for payment of earnings and secondary sales
Supplier Management – Used for supplier due diligence and profiling, portfolio management, and smart contracts including payment transactions
Real Estate Registries – Given that Wealth Migrate promotes fractional real-estate ownership, blockchain enables us to record, track, and report on real-estate ownership and payment distributions in real-time
Transnational Process – Blockchain technology will help reduce costs in global currency conversions, buy/sell matching in secondary markets, escrow account management, and payment acceptance
About Wealth Migrate.
Wealth Migrate is a global FinTech real estate investment platform that enables people to invest in commercial real estate from as little as $1000 through Collaborative Smart Investing.™
We empower investors to build generational wealth through Collaborative Smart Investing™ by facilitating global real estate investment opportunities that surpass standard investment returns. We ensure that our investors and real estate partners interests are aligned thereby generating higher returns for investors with fewer costs and lower risk in a compliant and safe way.
Wealth Migrate is the only true global real estate platform with members from over 100 countries and offices in the USA, South Africa, Australia, UK, China, and the Middle East.
About the author
Nolonwabo Mahanjana a front-end software engineer at Wealth Migrate. Her passion is to give back to the community spending her Saturdays helping ex-mine workers to claim their unpaid benefits.