Stephen King: Blockchain Will Transform the Real Estate Industry

New platforms and websites owned and controlled by private organizations have become the go-to source of information for buyers with more than 95% consulting online sites along the way. But are these buyers seeing a complete picture of the properties and opportunities available to them?

With more than 90 percent of the nation’s real estate firms hosting websites and property listings the most common feature, the competition among independent platforms is fierce. They are often not fully integrated with others; and when cooperating brokerage data is shared, it often lacks both full transparency and complete accuracy.

The local Multiple Listing Services (MLSs) have traditionally served the role of aggregator, bringing together the local brokerage’s listings, but that comes with its own pain points of restrictions on specific geographic locations, regions and countries.

Although many have tried to fill the role, there is not a convenient single destination for conducting unrestricted comprehensive property searches that span multiple territories and jurisdictions simultaneously. The reason can be linked back to a lack of trust and standardization between operators.

Real estate is a  $217 trillion global asset class, ranking among the world’s largest.  With so many stakeholders and an overflow of data that requires accuracy and security, the need for data standardization has never been more paramount.

Blockchain, a fairly new medium within the real estate industry, empowers stakeholders by providing a foundation to process, exchange and control the downstream flow of their data. Blockchain is a public utility that is not owned by a single entity and is a public database that permanently records transactions. By its very definition, blockchain is an unbiased forum and intermediary for MLSs, agents, and firms to exchange their data. It is the first medium that truly allows users to share with one another without ever giving up ownership or control of the data.

A technology backed by blockchain, imbrex can be categorized as both a powerful protocol and meaningful application. The protocol includes the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) Data Dictionary that replaces unstructured data with portable, standardized schemas, and includes the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) for decentralized data storage and distribution. IPFS replaces data silos with universal storage; and Ethereum replaces opaque, proprietary central databases with a public, validated, single source of truth. The application includes Smart Contracts that replace humans and bureaucracy with transparent and trustable, self-executing business processes and agreements; and tokenization that removes friction during data and financial exchanges.

Bringing this all together, an agent has a new listing at 123 Maple Avenue. They enter the listing information as 123 Maple Ave and the standardization schema translates it into a universally, readable address. A key is generated, and like the key to the front door of your house – it provides access and unlocks the related data. The key can be shared as the owner wishes with other agents, brokerages, MLSs or literally any application in the world. Security comes in knowing that at any moment, the key can be revoked, and the front door locked.

Blockchain can unite the 744 MLSs that are currently operating independently across the nation. It can significantly reduce syndication costs for agents, and simultaneously become a true one-stop-shopping experience for buyers ensuring that they view real-time data and benefit from direct access to local experts – regardless of where the property is in the world.

Blockchain is the solution that the industry has been missing. It creates a foundation of trust and opens communication between systems and stakeholders, with the benefit of opportunity equally shared among all.

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Stephen King
Stephen King is founder and CEO of Imbrex, the first global real-estate marketplace syndicating on the Ethereum blockchain.

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