...is what a lot of investors and proptech enthusiasts would like to be able to say. There is some way to go though.
There has been an interesting story about an equity stake in a single student housing scheme in North Carolina, USA, being 'tokenised' and offered up to individual investors at a minimum stake of $21,000.
Property lawyers often get told off for using arcane phrases, normally by someone wearing extravagant glasses and sipping a flat white. We are equally keen on this blog to avoid using arcane tech phrases and readers will just have to trust that we understand exactly why (when considering blockchain and real estate) one doesn't want to encounter the Byzantine Generals' Problem halfway through the Ethereum Stream, quite possibly raising questions about one's cryptographic hash.
What is more instantly understandable to property lawyers though is the importance of trust, verification, and common/institutional standards to make sure, if this trend catches on, that investors can be sure that all legal issues have been checked and resolved to a universally agreed degree.
Even if blockchain is one day used to instantly transfer stakes in real estate, that would have to be backed up by assurances that someone has checked (for example) that the property is owned by the right person, that it is fully let, that the management agreement and the form of tenancy or licence agreement for student occupiers are legally robust, and that it is true that x% of the units are subject to nominations rights in favour of a local university. It would be a barrier to entry and defeat the object if investors had to verify this for themselves, when investing at a relatively low financial level.
A similar low tech hack exists, off chain (I know) with certificates of title. These are essentially an assurance by an insured, qualified lawyer that an agreed set of important facts are true in respect of the certified asset.
In addition to reforming laws on REITS, investor protection and land registration to allow for tokenisation, lawyers and clients in the student accommodation industry should consider what common legal and management standards should apply to a completed and let student scheme that is being marketed in this way.
In the first offering of its kind, U.S. investors can now acquire a piece of South Carolina real estate in the form of blockchain tokens. The tokens represent ownership in a luxury student residence called The Hub, pictured above, which is located near the University of South Carolina in the state’s capital. The offering is significant because it amounts to the first tokenized REIT in the U.S. This means the owner, Convexity Properties, is providing a traditional real estate investment but one that uses blockchain—a tamper proof ledger technology run across disparate computers—to parcel out stakes. Convexity Properties, which aims to raise $20 million with the token sale, will let accredited investors buy in for as little as $21,000. The buyers will receive tokens that amount to securities, which they will eventually be able to sell on cryptocurrency exchanges.