Buy a house in bitcoin?

A home in the Hamptons is one of the first to be listed in the digital currency.

By MSN Real Estate partner Dec 18, 2013 10:08AM

By Candace Jackson, The Wall Street Journal


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© JIM URQUHART/Newscom/RTRVirtual currency for a physical house?


The seller of a Southampton, N.Y., home is asking $799,000 for his ranch-style four-bedroom home — or its equivalent value in bitcoin. It's one of the first homes on the market testing the digital currency, which was introduced in 2009 and is not backed by a central bank or government. The virtual currency is created by a computing process known as "mining" and can be traded online through unregulated Internet exchanges.


"There's room for more than one currency," says Philipp Preuss, the home's seller, who says he would also accept a combination of bitcoin and cash. The bitcoin price, he says, will likely be determined by the currency's average exchange rate on the day of closing.

The currency has fluctuated wildly over the past 12 months ranging from $13 in January to topping $1,200 in late November. Tuesday's value on the CoinDesk exchange was around $715 for one bitcoin.


Earlier this month, the Chinese central bank said financial institutions shouldn't take deposits from businesses tied to bitcoin. The European Banking Authority issued a warning last week that virtual currencies such as bitcoin were highly vulnerable to uses for criminal activity and money laundering.

Still, a small but growing number of businesses have announced they will accept bitcoin as payment. Last month, Richard Branson said that his space-tourism company, Virgin Galactic, would accept bitcoins as payment for space travel. (Virgin Galactic Space flights cost $250,000.) The online dating website accepts bitcoins, as does content aggregator


"There might be international buyers, or a younger computer whiz who came into a little bit of coin overnight," says Preuss, who is 42 and originally from Germany. "I'm expanding my buyer base."

Preuss, who works in international equity sales, has a small investment in the currency, having purchased about $100 worth of bitcoin in June, an investment that has appreciated significantly since then.


Preuss' home hit the market in October because he says he and his family have relocated from New York City to Stamford, Conn., and it's too far of a drive to use frequently. He decided to add the bitcoin purchase option last week.


The home, less than four miles Southampton's Main Street and about five miles from the beach, is located on a large freshwater pond. It also includes a dock that is about 300 to 400 feet from the property.

Preuss says he had to initially explain what the currency was to his real-estate broker, Amadeus Ehrhardt of Brown Harris Stevens in Sag Harbor, N.Y. "Aside from what I hear on the news about it here and there, I didn't know that much about bitcoin," Ehrhardt says. "But people are always interested to see what's new, and people like options."


Because a bank is not involved, fees for bitcoin transactions can have fewer fees than traditional bank transactions, which Preuss says he also found appealing. With no underlying mortgage on the home, Preuss says he'd most likely hold onto the bitcoin if someone were to use the virtual currency to purchase his home. "I believe in the longevity of bitcoins," he says.

It remains to be seen whether bitcoin sales will take off in real estate.


"I think at this point it's nothing more than a marketing technique of getting eyeballs to a website, which can help sell a property," says Jonathan Miller, president of appraisal firm Miller Samuel. "I don't take this very seriously, but it certainly catches your attention."


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Tags: buying
Dec 29, 2013 5:02PM

Personally, from what I've read, the individuals defending Bitcoin have yet to provide any kind of convincing case and many (I won't generalize by saying, "most") of the proponents sound a little like kooks that are overly paranoid of the government. I think everyone should have a healthy dose of skepticism on these things, but these people are a bit much for me.

I guess I'm simply a "sheeple." So be it, at least I can buy my pasture with the almighty American Dollar! :-)

Dec 28, 2013 11:06PM
Bitcoin will prove to be more valuable than our Government issued, private bank, debt based, quantitative eased, digital money we use now.  What is the difference if the Privately owned and run Federal Reserve banks create money digitally (and cannot be audited by anyone), or if private citizens do it?  Do your research, bitcoins are created by a lot of hard work using algorithims, hard work is what should create money, hard work IS value.  Our current dollar is backed by future debt, and is abused by the Feds and wall street.  Bitcoins may prove that their value is backed by labor traded for labor, not betting on the future.  It doesn't matter what the medium of trade is, as long as everyone trusts that it has some finite end and cannot be inflated or deflated by it's controllers.  Nobody can control bitcoins, they are products of intense labor, and a true free economy.
Dec 28, 2013 10:07PM

Interesting concept...but shouldn't they wait until bitcoins are regulated by the financial institutions or the government?  This kind of currency has no security and no insured channel by which to pass through.

Dec 28, 2013 9:41PM
I saw digital currency coming to the forefront many years ago except I had expected it to be the government that would be using it. With the exchange rate of bitcoin having fluctuated so much up and down over the last year, I currently see bitcoin as nothing more than an investment. (I'm not saying it's a good investment) Put your real hard earned cash into it, and a year later pray that it's worth more money than what you put it. I would not be at all surprised to see the government using virtual currency at some point in the future.
Dec 28, 2013 8:36PM
Dec 28, 2013 8:15PM
The only bitcoin I ever trusted was the one I bit in to to test the hardness of the gold it was made from.
Dec 28, 2013 7:50PM

Why don't we just use Monopoly Money? Less expensive to make and anyone who has an ink jet printer can make their own. It would save the US Government money and it will also keep counterfeiter's from making money to look like the real thing. It could cost as little as an app to download to a computer. And let's say you can have your denominations in different color pastel paper that you can get a any office supply store.

Pipe dreaming!

Dec 28, 2013 7:49PM
This FARCE is getting more laughable by the day BITCOIN is backed by nothing and is worth nothing reminds me of those days when e-stocks were around that scam. This is nothing but a pump and dump scheme all the original people that had large positions in the BITCOIN sold theirs so what does that tell you.
Dec 28, 2013 4:47PM

A digital coin worth more than gold.


Only in "manipulated" America!

Dec 28, 2013 4:18PM
Are there real Bitcoins out there or everything on the internet.
Dec 28, 2013 4:12PM
Roland Gayslinger's ENTIRE portfolio is in bitcoin. LMFAO!!
Dec 28, 2013 2:38PM
location location location but  I wouldn't give you more than $250,000 for that
Dec 28, 2013 2:27PM
I would not make a bet where bit coin is going.I think shortly it will be GONE and  the one's who bought will LOSE there real money!! JMT
The only reason i want to own a bit coin is so i can put it on a shelf as currency that failed. It'll be a collector's item in a few years when no government lets it be used.
Dec 28, 2013 1:33PM
Know that is about "location, location, and location" ..... but $799,000 for that house?  I think not.  And "bitcoin" .... uh .... NO!
Dec 28, 2013 1:12PM
Dec 28, 2013 1:04PM

First the house isn't worth that much, maybe in their mind. Now on the bitcoin......foolish people use these virtual currencies, of which there are hundreds, all created from thin air and backed by nothing. created from nothing is  bad bet in any ones book and it is the foolish people that try to keep pushing this. Bernie Madoff went to prison for a Ponzi scheme, virtual currency creators need to go to prison trying to pass the stuff off as money.


Advertisements like this are no doubt a ploy by people in the bitcoin loop to try and legitimize it, using this house as an example I am sure the owner has been approached to try and accomplish this using bitcoin.


Totally foolish people. I think I will create a new virtual currency, backed by store bought tinfoil, I should make millions considering all the foolish, stupid people that are trying to legitimize virtual nothing.

Dec 28, 2013 1:01PM
All these faith based currencies, no better than Wampum in reality.
Dec 28, 2013 12:08PM
Dec 18, 2013 2:35PM
Because of their volatile and unreliable value, bitcoins are still extremely scary to use on any sort of a large transaction.  If you want to exchange bitcoin for a few nights at a hotel or the equivilent of a couple of thousand dollars worth of jewelry, go for it.  But a house?  Fugetaboutit...
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