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Real Estate Technology

The future is now: Invest in real estate using cryptocurrency

(TECHNOLOGY NEWS) Real estate is going on trend and through REAL, investors can now use cryptocurrency to invest in real estate.

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real cryptocurrency

Real Estate Asset Ledger

The cleverly acronymed Real Estate Asset Ledger (REAL) is important, because it’s one of the first instances ever of a seamless platform for investing cryptocurrency in real estate. Blockchain solutions have been nibbling around the edges of the real estate market for a while. That’s still a big deal. We’ve reported on it.

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But involvement has been limited. We’ve noted limited applications of blockchain tech to specific real estate issues like listing databases or mortgage payments. There’s been no large-scale attempt to buy into the real estate market as a whole.

REAL solution

Meet REAL. REAL is interested in the big show: making it possible to invest in and even purchase real estate with cryptocurrency. That’s new.

In fact, it’s new two ways. Not only is it, y’know, using a completely new form of money, it’s doing it in a way that’s still drawing open-mouth stares from Realtors and commentators alike when it’s being done with normal dead-tree/president money. That would be low-equity investment.

TL;DR on low-equity investment, or to use REAL’s term, “real estate crowdfunding,” goes like this. Instead of a single party owning a given piece of real estate and selling it to another via a structured series of payments secured with collateral (or “mortgage”; you may have heard of it) a group of investors, not necessarily connected, buy shares in real estate like any other investment and profit from any rise in value.

REAL is a real estate crowdfunding platform.

It lists properties interested in being crowdfunded, accepts investments in REAL Tokens, its in-house cryptocurrency, and pays out in Ether, a more widely used cryptocurrency, to be spent on cars and sandwiches and things.

So the REAL offer is twofold: cryptocurrency and crowdfunding. Rad. Who cares?

Pro cryptocurrency

REAL’s argument for cryptocurrency is pretty much the same as NAR’s, as explained here: real estate requires investment, and cryptocurrency is a giant pile of value no other investment space has seriously leveraged yet.

Investors with limited options get a huge chance to profit, real estate gets committed investors – win-win.

Their argument for crowdfunding, however, goes a step beyond. I have previously waxed lyrical on the benefits of distributed risk. That’s always been the problem with mortgages as a financial tool: failure sucks, hard, for everyone. Having multiple investors rather than a single mortgage means a bunch of people benefit when things go well, and one person isn’t left holding the bag when things don’t. That provides means to forego conventional foreclosure, since all investors, occupants included, have a vested interest in the property getting more valuable and don’t lose everything if things go south.

That’s good news both for the P&L sheet and the soul. Due respect to our Dickens villain readership, most real estate professionals don’t actually like making people homeless.

REAL identifies a plus that didn’t occur to me, because, for once in my digital life, I wasn’t thinking in terms of blockchain. Crypto plus crowdfunding equals international.

Being peer to peer, cryptocurrency values are determined between people directly.

They don’t care about borders. There’s no difference between an American REAL Token and a Chinese one. Real estate crowdfunding alone was worth $3.5 billion last year. Forbes estimates the global crowdfunding industry as a whole at $300 billion by 2025. That’s a lotta tokens.

What’s to come

Whether REAL’s model is the best way to take advantage of that is an open question. What isn’t is that both crowdfunding and cryptocurrency will be a part of the real estate market in the coming years. Plan accordingly.

#REALinvestment

Matt Salter is a writer and former fundraising and communications officer for nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America and PICO National Network. He’s excited to put his knowledge of fundraising, marketing, and all things digital to work for your reading enjoyment. When not writing about himself in the third person, Matt enjoys horror movies and tabletop gaming, and can usually be found somewhere in the DFW Metroplex with WiFi and a good all-day breakfast.

Real Estate Technology

Google Maps’ new default route will prioritize green over speed

(REAL ESTATE TECH NEWS) Sorry commuters, but Google Maps will be updating their routes’ priority from ‘fastest’ to ‘greenest’ route within the next year.

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Google Maps ready to plot a new route inside of a car.

Google is making it easier for you to offset your carbon footprint. The Google Maps app will soon default to the greenest route instead of the fastest one.

To find the most environmentally friendly route, Google is taking insights from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab. Its navigation algorithm will consider factors like slopes, inclines, road type, and traffic congestion to find the most eco-friendly route.

For those in a rush, this might be a cause for worry, but there is no need for that. You have the option to adjust your preference settings to turn this feature off. Also, the app will default to the greenest route only when the estimated travel time of the fastest route is about the same. If the most fuel-efficient route is longer, Google Maps will give you other options to compare ETAs and carbon emissions.

“What we are seeing is for around half of routes, we are able to find an option more eco-friendly with minimal or no time-cost trade-off,” Russell Dicker, a director of product at Google said.

The feature is set to launch on Android and iOS in the U.S. later this year and will expand to other countries.

Also, Google is supporting cities that have established low emission zones by alerting a driver when they will be passing through a low emission zone that restricts some vehicles from passing through them. These warnings will inform users if their car is allowed in that area so they can choose another form of transportation or select a new route if they need to. In June, these low emission zone alerts will launch in Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain, and the UK.

In addition, Google Maps is making it easier to compare different routes and modes of transportation with a “comprehensive view”. Instead of switching between tabs to view different destination times, you’ll be able to compare car, cycling, public transportation, etc. all in one place.

Google’s new eco-friendly navigation option, along with the other Google Maps app updates, is part of the company’s commitment to reduce and help its users reduce their environmental footprint. Since 2007, the tech giant has been carbon neutral, and it plans on being carbon-free by 2030. With these changes, the company seems to be making strides in the right direction to get there.

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Real Estate Technology

How fake images are infiltrating suburban geography

(REAL ESTATE TECH NEWS) The rise in quality of deepfakes has even lead to the development of fake images in geography and housing. Here’s what to look out for.

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A digital map open on a computer, where one has to be wary of fake images.

With the onset of the computer age, we have seen a great deal of false information spreading around the world. From photoshopped images to presidents broadcasting fake information, there is a lot to be wary of. The internet is rife with data that truly needs to be verified at any given turn. The dangerous part is not only what people can do with that information, but also how they can hide things with it.

Satellite imagery has been on the rise for a few decades. An image that is already grainy and hard to see would be child’s play to alter. Maybe even to create from scratch. Tagging GPS coordinates are a simple alteration inside of photoshop too. Fakes, upon fakes, upon fakes.

In 2019, the US military warned about the possibility of fake geographical information being perpetuated across the internet. It then actually came true to the embarrassment of the Chinese government. Satellite “evidence” was used to report detention camps hidden away in the countries. The “camps” turned out to be re-education facilities for China’s mentally deviant populace. However, that’s another rabbit hole to run down. The point here is that the images that were released in 2015 showed absolutely no facility and then pictures in 2018 showed a massive facility.

An assistant professor, Bo Zhao, with the University of Washington decided to illustrate this again with a study. His opinion was “the first step to tackling these issues is to make people aware there’s a problem in the first place”. He and his colleagues published a paper on “deep fake geography”. They conducted experiments in generating and detecting imagery for suburban homes, which clearly demonstrated the affect of this technology on our economy. They were able to easily convert the shape and layout of a neighborhood in their images.

From this work we have a few new terms to be aware of. Threats of “paper towns” and “trap streets” are two of the new resounding terms. These new ideas can lead to a modicum of potential issues. The team actually created a software that has the ability to create these fake images. They did the work themselves, leading one to believe that the basic knowledge is there for anyone with a little know-how.

The moral of the story is, don’t trust anything from the internet. It’s all an opinion coming from some other flawed human being, and you don’t ever really know why people are putting that information out there. Always know and check your sources.

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Real Estate Technology

This company puts robot legs on buildings to ‘walk’ them to new locations

(TECH NEWS) China is balancing preserving its architectural heritage with rapid modern expansion, using unique technology inspired by 19th century.

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Looking up at a building in a city environment.

It’s a big enough pain to rearrange the furniture in my living room. Whether permanent, or looking for that cookie I swore I dropped behind the couch, even something that might take me 30 seconds of exertion is usually above my tolerance threshold.

Let’s magnify that problem by about a billion and start asking questions on how an entire building might be moved.

Not a shed in your neighbor’s backyard (which makes odd sounds some nights), not something designed to be portable on a trailer, and not a glorified tent or collapsible structure. We’re talking about a concrete structure weighing hundreds of tons and the need to have it move to a new permanent location.

Shanghai Evolution Shift has developed support that act as robotic legs, and a few hundred of them together can be placed under a building and literally have it walk to a new location. I’m simplifying it a bit here, so don’t let it sound too insane – there’s still a lot of physics and real world and astronomically heavy things involved, so it’s not exactly some miracle fix that can be deployed in one afternoon. But it is still remarkable – half the supports lift, the other half move into place, the load-bearing first group shifts the building forward a few feet, the second half rise to hold, and this process repeats.

Ultimately, a structure can be moved across the ground and be placed elsewhere; in this case, it was the Lagena Primary school – an 85 year old building weighing 7600 tons built in 1935 by the former French Commission – moved 62 meters (203 feet) along a curved path over the course of 18 days, turning 21 degrees in the transition. More impressive, the historical building is not a standard square/rectangle, but instead an odd T-shape. This was done to make room for new commercial and office space, which is set to be completed by 2023.

Some of you are thinking crutches don’t sound too awful right now.

This has set off a debate about conservation of architectural history, as there is a concern to keep storied buildings of the past in the ever-increasing march toward modernized expansion. Former Chinese Emperor Mao Zedong even waged a cultural war on “The Four Olds” in an attempt to erase previous examples of earlier Chinese civilization, prompting the destruction and razing of monuments and numerous buildings. Even with this type of mandate no longer in place, urbanization has become relentless and threatens to erase entire cultural cornerstones.

There have been attempts to draft plans to ensure conservation of such sites is achieved, and in doing so, this has brought about the need to see building relocation as a viable option. Shanghai has especially been a strong example of this preservation, setting itself as a leader in making sure the past is represented, saved, and respectfully maintained.

Interestingly, some of the ideas here are literally from over 150 years ago, and were deployed en masse in Chicago. At the time, there was a drainage problem – the city had no clearance above Lake Michigan, making all of its roads and buildings at water level. This meant that water and sewage would not run off, causing stagnant pools to appear across all roads, leading to outbreaks of diseases yearly.

Here, too, was an outlandish solution proposed and then executed – raising Chicago itself several feet. Trenches would be dug under a building, thousands of giant jackscrews would be placed in a giant grid pattern, and hundreds of workers would turn them in unison until the building was suddenly well above its original footprint. Interestingly, not only did this work, but there were no fatalities and only a small handful of incidents.

This process went on for twenty years, and despite some hiccups with sidewalks being hilariously uneven during that time, the results were a resounding success. The increase in height meant that a sewer system could be installed on the roads and buried, which fixed the original problem. Maybe the craziest thing about this is that so few people remember it, despite Chicago having always been a hub of American history.

There’s actually an entire history involved with moving houses using logs and animals and other means, in case anyone is interested. Apparently it is much more common than you’d think; we’ve got better technology today, but sometimes people just made do.

Last joke because I would be disappointed in anyone who didn’t reference this (including myself): Howl’s Moving Castle anyone?

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