Bitcoin is the cryptocurrency – an electronic form of money – du jour. Whether it is a promising alternative to the various denominations of loot that we all know and love, or simply a fleeting tech sensation remains to be seen. Just a cursory perusal of crypto-circles on social media illustrates that those who have embraced it are passionate about its viability, to say the least.
This past March, Curbed reported on what were “believed to be the first real estate transactions in the city to be made in the decentralized digital currency.” The deals went down at 389 East 89th Street, a property developed by Ben Shaoul that involved two condos: the first, a 624-square-foot studio with an asking price of $875,000; the second, a 989-square-foot one bed/one bath that entered contract at $1.485 million. The transaction reportedly employed a service called BitPay, which converts Bitcoin to dollars. Those involved remain tight-lipped as regards to the buyer, so it is impossible to ascertain why cryptocurrency was preferable to any of the more common alternatives.
(It's worth noting that certain players in the rental market appear to have also embraced Bitcoin as a means of attracting younger tenants. An Inverse piece from January spotlighted the Brookliv brokerage, which, despite only starting to accept the cryptocurrency at the tail end of 2017, had already engaged in several deals via this medium by the time of the article's publication.)
A National Mood?
New York City isn't the first place to welcome these transactions. January saw the first Bitcoin listing in Washington, D.C. (at which time the cryptocurrency was valued at $11,000 per unit). The developer of a single-family home that had been converted into the four-unit St. James Place Condos allowed buyers to pay with good-old American dollars, Bitcoin, or some combination thereof.
And in Miami last December, a gentleman by the name of Ivan “Paychecks” Pacheco -- somewhat unsurprisingly an advocate for cryptocurrency and the co-founder of the Bits to Freedom website -- purchased a two-bedroom unit in that city's Upper East Side neighborhood, according to The Real Deal. The transaction marked the first closure to solely involve Bitcoin; in prior deals, investors first converted their Bitcoin to cash before finalizing the purchase.