Australia’s housing market is set to witness its first ever cryptocurrency property transaction after a vendor revealed it would accept Bitcoin as payment for a Melbourne home.
Digital currencies are becoming increasingly mainstream, penetrating all kinds of markets and industries.
However, their suitability within real estate has raised questions over logistics and legalities, with government regulators scrambling to define clear and uniform guidelines for cryptocurrency transactions.
John Garnett, a listing agent for Harcourts, which is handling the sale, told Domain.com.au that the Melbourne property would be the first time he had handled cryptocurrency in real estate.
He said: “I’ve never had anyone transact in it, there’s a few logistics we still have to iron out.
“We’ve got to be careful because the state revenue office will want the stamp duty to be paid on market revenue.”
The value of Bitcoin has been known to fluctuate dramatically and any wild shifts on the transaction date could spark tension between a buyer and seller.
Consumer Affairs Victoria has confirmed it is legal for the deposit or settlement amount to be paid in any asset or security agreed between the buyer and seller, including Bitcoin.
Meanwhile, the Australian Taxation Office views Bitcoin as an asset and requires a full record of Bitcoin transactions to be kept.
The state government recommends buyers, sellers and agents seek legal advice to ensure they meet the regulatory requirements for the holding of deposits in the form of Bitcoin.
Rob, an experienced builder who didn’t want his surname published, bought into Bitcoin earlier this year and has his latest project up for sale with the owner “agreeable to accept part payment in Bitcoin”.
He believes marketing the property as Bitcoin-friendly could play a major part in someone’s ability to purchase the house.
Also speaking to Domain, Rob said: “If it came down to two people, and both had their maximum borrowing capacity at a certain amount, and one has Bitcoin - because the banks don’t look at Bitcoin as an asset - that could be something that could get them across the line.”
He added that the volatility of the cryptocurrency means that “a day in Bitcoin is like a week or a month in the real world”.