Coronis sets sights on bitcoin transactions

MD Andrew Coronis talks the future of crypto-currency in property transactions

It’s marketed as a rare opportunity to purchase one of Australia’s first properties in bitcoin but can you really use the crypto-currency to buy Lot 44 Connors Rd, Helidon?

Theoretically you could. All $118,000 of it.

At the time of writing that equates to 8.5 bitcoin.

But don’t start altering your ad copy on your listings just yet, purchasing Australian real estate with bitcoin is still very much in its infancy.

As is often the case, consumers have learnt to walk long before the government, with the land titles office and other intermediaries still to catch up with technology including blockchain.

Where the stars have aligned for South East Queensland property services group Coronis is that the owner of the 600sqm block of land owns the allotment outright.

It’s unencumbered, which means the property is without claims by creditors, including the banks.

“If there’s no bank involved and the person owns the land proper … the person buying it can actually just transfer in bitcoins,” Coronis Group managing director Andrew Coronis said.

“He gives them a transfer document and he gives him bitcoins.

“So it can be done.”

Where there’s a hiccup in this instance is that on the transfer document, the value will have to be converted back to Australian dollars.

So, the paper world and the digital world are still at odds in this department, as well as being behind in settlement times and keeping on top of other things like stamp duty which has to be tracked in Australian dollars.

“If the property is unencumbered and the person is paying with bitcoins we’d work through it with our solicitor,” Mr Coronis said.

“We have to put the transfer price in as Australian dollars, if the governments are up for it, but the owner could certainly take a transfer, bang and push it into his wallet.

“We have to equate on the day what this many bitcoins is versus Australian dollars,” Mr Coronis said.

“We’re hoping to be able to do that with this transaction. That’s why we’ve chosen a fairly modest block of land in a regional area.

“If I’ve got some bitcoin, and I’ve made a lot of money out of it because I’ve bought $5000 worth four years ago when they were $100 and now they’re close to $15,000, I can actually get a block of land from the profit I’ve made.”

Mr Coronis said if the block of land was mortgaged the bitcoin transaction would not be possible.

“They (banks) won’t accept bitcoin,” he said.

While the banks aren’t cut out of the picture just yet, if we get out the crystal ball it may not be that far off.

Banks, after all, are a kink in the chain. Settlement periods in Australia are still lagging at the 90-day timeframe.

But what happens if you cut out the weary middleman and using a blockchain platform can see a private lender’s or purchaser’s account balance and transaction records.

If there’s established faith in the platform you can do away with the hurdle in the middle.

“There’s ultimate trust because you can see how much money they’ve got in the account,” Mr Coronis said.

“I think that the banking sector is going to have massive changes to it, but that’s no different to any sector, is it really?

“We’re going into fairly uncharted waters. We’re going to look back and go ‘of course that was going to happen’ or ‘of course that wasn’t going to happen’.

“I do think the banking industry is going to struggle, because why do we have to go and borrow money off a bank? Why couldn’t I borrow off somebody else?”

Where the Australian market may see swifter uptake of the crypto-currency phenomenon is in property management, with tenants able to pay rent in bitcoin.

“We’ve had, in the last quarter, nearly 50 people who’ve inquired about bitcoin and ‘can I pay with bitcoin’?” Mr Coronis said.

Coronis as a brand have always been on the cutting edge of innovation in the industry, and as a result have done their research into how the future looks with multiple-currencies.

“We’ve decided to invest and we’ve looked around and we’ve found a partner at the moment who we believe will be able to make it work with technology, ” said Mr Coronis.

This could spell the end for traditional trust accounts with a landlord and tenant able to exchange bitcoin payments via a blockchain app.

While Mr Coronis admits that could be scary for agents he doesn’t believe property managers will be made redundant.

“The way I envision going forward is there will be a monthly subscription to a property management manager,” he said.

He said he could also see a future where tenants seeking repairs to a hot water system or a broken oven could log the issue in an app and have the complaint immediately sent to qualified tradies to fix it.

“They can quote on it, they can meet with the tenant and the owner and they’ll move through the whole process,” he said.

“Then the owner can press go on it and get it done without any human interaction.

“And you are going to need someone to overlook it, but I think in 60 to 70 per cent of the cases that’s what will happen.

“Then the trades person will bill the owner directly through the app, rather than bill the agent.”

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Samantha McLean

Samantha McLean is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Elite Agent and Host of the Elevate Podcast.