Technology continues to drive the housing market forward, offering solutions that have improved processes. But are we about to see one of the biggest changes to how people buy houses, using cryptocurrency? Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum are becoming increasingly popular, and some buyers have already used crypto to buy property. But will it become the norm, and can you use crypto to buy a house?
What is cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency, also referred to as crypto, is a form of currency that exists virtually or digitally.
There are no coins or notes, nor is there a central issuing or regulating authority. Crypto is a way to make secure transactions using a decentralised system that records previous purchases and issues new units.
Ultimately, crypto enables payments online without the use of third-party intermediaries. Due to its high risk, high reward nature, cryptocurrency values can skyrocket and plummet relatively quickly.
Has anyone bought a house with crypto in the UK?
The answer to this is yes but these cases are very much a rare occurrence.
In 2017, the first UK agent accepted Bitcoin as a form of payment for a property listed for sale or rent. Then, in December 2017, the first houses were sold in the UK, where the buyer used only Bitcoin. One for £350,000 and the other for £595,000. They were also the first homes the Land Registry recorded as being sold with crypto.
Buying a house with crypto
Given the nature of its anonymity crypto opens itself up to criminality and concerns over money laundering putting many agents, conveyancers, and lenders off.
Therefore, the main way to use crypto to buy a house would be to sell your crypto for cash and use that to buy the property.
While for some it might be appealing, it’s important to pay attention to the associated risks.
Cryptocurrency is unpredictable – it could have a high value, which then plummets almost overnight. Therefore, it can be hard to agree on a sale price if you’re not sure if you will have the available funds needed should the value of your crypto drop a few hours before you need it.
Small pool of buyers and sellers
Most people who can afford to use crypto to pay for a high-value purchase like a house are known as ‘miners’, those who invested long before its popularity. It means only a select few could probably afford to buy a home this way.
Equally a buyer needs a seller willing to accept a full crypto payment which currently limits its use.
Lack of regulation means you’ll have no backup if you’re hacked, and your crypto is stolen. Its anonymity also means many criminals use crypto to launder money; something estate agents, conveyancers and lenders are very alert to.
Which estate agents accept crypto?
Understandably, many estate agents and conveyancers are sceptical about accepting crypto as an actual payment due to unpredictability and lack of protection.
However, younger generations believe crypto’s benefits outweigh its cons, so we could see more agents and vendors accepting this payment type in the future.
How will crypto shape the future of the property market?
Its popularity is increasing and becoming more accepted in other sectors. Many believe this is just the beginning of crypto evolving into a genuine way to buy a home.
As it becomes more mainstream, we may see more vendors and agents more receptive to cryptocurrency as an acceptable way of transacting in property.
Don’t expect traditional money to be replaced any time soon by cryptocurrencies. But that doesn’t mean more estate agents won’t start embracing crypto, with more sellers willing to accept it as a viable payment method.
Whatever you think about buying a house with crypto always remember that this is likely the biggest purchase of your life so be aware and alert to the associated risks and always seek advice from your professional advisers.
Last Updated: August 22nd, 2022