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Bitcoin is booming in Miami. But can you buy a house with it?

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Peggy Fucci, CEO of One World Properties, said she has yet to come across a buyer or seller interested in using Bitcoin as a form of payment, but she understands Bitcoin's buzzy appeal.

"I think the general consensus from the developers I work with and represent is that the whole deal with Bitcoin and real estate is a marketing thing -- a way to get exposure for your property," she said. "I don't see it as a real thing yet. Most people don't even know about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general. Eventually, it is something that will be inevitable. But right now, it's too early. We don't use it. Instead, people are riding the wave of a phenomenal stock market."

Realtors wary

Some Realtors who have had first-hand experience with Bitcoin agree that cryptocurrency isn't yet ready for prime time in the real estate field.

Edgardo Defortuna, president and CEO of the real estate firm Fortune International Group, said his company has been involved in two listings where Bitcoin was in play: A $4.6 million home on Sunset Island where the seller accepted Bitcoin (the house eventually sold for $3.8 million via conventional loan) and a Key Biscayne condo currently on the market for $1.5 million (the seller received and turned down an offer for $1 million in Bitcoin).

"Bitcoin was talked about a lot last year because of the appreciation, but it has scared a lot of people away in the last month or two," Defortuna said. "Cryptocurrency could be a player (in real estate transactions) in the future, but I'm not sure this Bitcoin craziness is the way to go yet."

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But Charles Penan, executive vice president of the real estate investment and merchant banking firm Aztec Group Inc., takes a more flexible approach. He currently has a property for sale at 4141 N. Miami Ave. in Miami's Design District -- a three-story, nearly 16,000 square-foot building -- for $14.5 million. The seller, Remy Jacobson of J Cube Development, is accepting cryptocurrency as payment.

"Crypto is a very viable alternative to traditional financing -- for the right buyer and right seller," said Penan. "They have to be more entrepreneurial. Bitcoin does not work for institutions, because they are more transactional and want instant gratification. They don't want to assume any risk of fluctuation."

Others are already doing due diligence, preparing themselves for what they believe to be an inevitable and radical change in traditional real estate transactions. Beth Butler, general manager of Compass Florida, a technology-focused real estate firm, said her company isn't accepting Bitcoin yet. But she's currently researching the field, tapping experts to figure out the problems that need to be solved before cryptocurrency can be readily used.

"So far, people are very open to it," Butler said. "The appeal is that blockchain could make real estate transactions more secure. You wouldn't have the wire fraud or hacking fraud that has been plaguing our industry in the last few years. But there's a lot more that needs to be defined on a large scale first. The concept of blockchain suggests to me that state law and regulators will have to adopt some kind of policy to accept it."


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