Aside from a bell in the front yard, the 2100-square-foot, blue-and-white Gulfport house at 6315 11th Ave. S. is as unassuming as its neighbors.
But the house itself is a game changer in the world of cryptocurrency.
On Thursday, Feb. 10 the Spanish-style home sold as an non-fungible token (NFT) and became the first piece of real estate in America to sell via NFT auction.
An NFT is not a physical token, but an electronic one, stored on blockchain (think of blockchain as a digital ledger that doesn’t “live” in any one place, but in several). Another way to think of blockchain: “a ‘chain’ made up of individual ‘blocks’ of data”, according to forbes.com.
It’s a pretty niche concept, but NFTs and Bitcoin have been heating up in recent years.
Typically, they are used to buy digital art, such as the logo for the infamous Fyre Festival. The logo of the controversial festival sold for $122,000 as an NFT.
Unlike the digital world of art, the token that purchased the Gulfport house represents a digital deed. The NFT contains the rights to the property.
The World of Crypto
Real estate investor Leslie Alessandra owns Tampa Bay-based blockchain company DeFi Unlimited.
She decided to sell the property as a conversation starter for cryptocurrency.
“This technology will revolutionize the real estate industry providing speed, transparency, and security on a level not seen before,” Alessandra wrote on the auction site, referring to the speed with which the sale will close.
Her company, DeFi Unlimited, creates software to help ease businesses into crypto spaces.
Heckler Realty on St. Pete Beach brokered the sale, but the home officially sold through Propy, an online real estate transaction platform.
“It’s a bold adventure,” said Amy Heckler, CEO of Heckler Realty. “It’s kind of like being Captain Kirk exploring worlds unknown.”
Heckler knew little about the ins and outs of cryptocurrency, but when Alessandra came to her with the idea, she learned through webinars and online classes.
“It’s something you definitely have to research if you’re not familiar,” Heckler said.
A Home, Not a House
Before the auction on Thursday, Feb. 10, the home had a backup offer for the asking price of $650,000 cash, but on the day of the auction, the winning bid came through in cryptocurrency: 210 Ethereum, or $653,000. Ethereum, or ETH, simply refers to a type of cryptocurrency.
The house has four bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, a bell in an archway near the front door, and exposed brick – and a wall featuring art from St. Petersburg muralist Derek Donnelly, known locally as Saint Paint.
Donnelly painted a watery pelican in his trademark nautical style.
Sellers paid for the mural with NFT, said Donnelly. Donnelly, however, received cash, not cryptocurrency, for his work.
“People might think it’s a digital house, or a digital mural in the metaverse, but it’s not, it’s very real,” Donnelly said. “I think this is just going to make it easier for people to do these kinds of transitions through this technology.”