What is blockchain and can it really help estate agents?

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Blockchain estate – Property sales take a seriously long time to complete. There are a number of reasons for this, although often delays are avoidable, some are inevitable.

With so many moving parts and individuals involved in the process, it is often difficult for the buyer and seller to have a clear vision of each stage and the whole process becomes one big blur.

However, huge developments are beginning and are on the path to revolutionise the way property transactions take place, the key player in all this being blockchain.

I’m sure many of you reading this are thinking: “What actually is blockchain?”. Although there is no simple answer, essentially blockchain is a super-secure way of recording transactions, contracts and transferring data.

One characteristic that makes blockchain such a game-changer is the information it holds is not held in one place, and is instead stored on multiple different computer systems, known as nodes. Each node has a full copy of the ledger and every transaction proposed to be added to it. One thing to note, blockchain is a type of decentralised ledger, not vice versa.

New ‘blocks’ of transactions can be added to the ledger and old transactions cannot be overwritten. For those reasons, the design of the blockchain is said to be virtually incorruptible, making it perfect technology to record financial transactions.

Blockchain uses cryptographic hash functions to verify the authenticity of a piece of data, block, entering the chain. There are a number of companies leading the way in the development of blockchain technology and increased transparency during the buying process. Some notable start-ups in the residential and investment space include CoadjutePropyDirectly Sourced and YourKeys.

Let’s look how blockchain could impact and revolutionise the property industry and ultimately aid estate agents:

1. Land Registries could use blockchain to transform the processes for property transaction and land registration

In April 2019, HM Land Registry conducted the first property transaction using blockchain technology. The sale of a recently refurbished, semi-detached house in Gillingham had previously taken 22 weeks, with all the parties involved, they tested how long it would take to run the sale and purchase through a blockchain prototype. It took 10 minutes. You can read more about the test here. The test was concluded as a success and it demonstrated the exciting possibilities the blockchain technology could enable, including:

-Speedier property transactions
-More trust in the transaction
-Higher levels of security
-Increased transparency for participants in the transaction

2. Tokenisation of properties could greatly increase liquidity in the market

The term asset tokenisation is often associated with blockchain. This concept is directly applicable to the real estate markets, and assets such as properties could be tokenised.

As previously mentioned, completing a property transaction is often cumbersome and inefficient, involving multiple middlemen. If properties were to be tokenised and sold to multiple buyers or investors, the buy-in price could be far less than it would be if the property were to be sold to a single buyer. This could open up attractive opportunities for both investors and first time buyers especially.

Similarly, if tokenisation were to become commonplace, property owners would have far more options when it came to selling their house.

Read more at EAT