Fancy a $1-million development property just off Hwy. 2? It could be yours if you invested in bitcoin—the increasingly popular unregulated digital currency that’s become an alternative way to pay for almost anything, including land.
Penny and Bryce Kander— a Red Deer-based mother and son realty team—are accepting offers to trade bitcoin, cash, houses, condos or vehicles for Penny’s 3.33 acre property, situated on Gasoline Alley, right across from Woody’s RV.
Since putting the listing on the market in October, Bryce said there’s been significant interest, particularly from a few different Central Alberta builders.
He said it’s likely the buyer will be someone looking for a short-term investment.
“It’s most likely going to be a very specific investor who is wanting to sit on it for a couple of years and then make a million dollars in profit because it is development land,” said Bryce. He also suspects that his mother will come away with a mixed payment.
“I have a feeling that if they do bring an offer it will actually be a mixture of property, bitcoin and cash.”
And if the buyer offers a straight trade of bitcoins for the property? Bryce said his mother wouldn’t mind that at all.
“Her plan is to keep about 20 per cent of the value of the property in bitcoins and then the rest she would use to pay off her mortgage and then reinvest in real estate as well.”
Though it hasn’t sold yet, the listing has generated some unexpected benefits. Thanks to new interest in bitcoin, in January the Kanders will be launching a new project in Central Alberta that will also offer buyers the option of paying with digital currency.
“We’re going to be having fully property-managed properties that you can buy and just instantly start seeing cash flow, and you’ll be able to purchase them with bitcoin as well,” Bryce explained.
He and his mother are also looking into building an apartment in Lacombe, where tenants would have the option of paying in bitcoin.
Bryce said the idea of trading bitcoin for property came after they were told about it by a family friend and after his brother starting investing in the digital currency.
“I bought a couple bitcoins myself and eventually so did my mom, and then we got this bright idea ‘Well, hey, if we want to invest in this why don’t we just sell our property for bitcoins?”
Bryce has had the chance to try using some of his bitcoins for transactions that are a bit more affordable than property.
“I bought McDonalds with it. I paid my friend in bitcoins to pick it up for me,” he said, chuckling. “You just transfer straight from your phone. So easy.”
And it seems that for fans of bitcoin, things will keep getting easier.
The world’s first bitcoin ATM opened in a downtown Vancouver coffee shop at the end of October.
Users deposit cash in exchange for bitcoins, which are sent to an online wallet. Europe’s first permanent bitcoin ATM was installed in a record store in Helsinki, Finland on Dec. 16.
Users cite low or nonexistent transaction fees as one of the benefits of the currency. Once you have bitcoin in your digital wallet, the list of goods and services that can be purchased is ever expanding. Bitcoin users can pay for property, vehicles and most recently, university tuition.
In a time when many Canadian post-secondary institutions have stopped accepting credit card payments for tuition, the University of Nicosia in Cyprus announced it will accept bitcoin as payment for tuition and other fees.
The university made the announcement in late November, making it the first accredited university to accept the digital currency.
As bitcoin increases in popularity, the unregulated currency has rocketed up and down in value. On Nov. 18, after a U.S. congressional hearing concluded that digital currencies were legitimate financial services, the price of bitcoin soared.
On Dec. 18, in the wake of the Chinese government’s decision to ban financial institutions from using the currency, Yeepay, China’s largest bitcoin exchange, announced it would stop trading bitcoin and the value plummeted to a low of $446 CAD—dropping to almost 50% of the week’s highest valuation of $944 CAD.
This incredible volatility makes writing about bitcoin a challenge. At the time of the interview with Bryce on Dec. 16, VirtEx, a Canadian Virtual Exchange web site listed bitcoin as being valued at $700 CAD.
The Kanders’ online listing of the property near Gasoline Alley specifies that the price of bitcoin will be based on the weighted price of 12 hours on the day the offer is made. If the property is successfully traded for bitcoin, it will be the highest valued bitcoin trade ever made in Canada.