“Have the right people on your side. Going into business for the first time can be scary and expensive. I’ve had “partners” in the past who talked a great game but didn’t want to do the actual work involved to carry it through. Sometimes it’s better to lay the foundation the way you envision THEN invite the players in, that way you’re spending 100% of your energy on your dream rather than having to split that trying motivate the unmotivated.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Piper Moretti, CEO, The Crypto Realty Group. Piper has completed 5 bitcoin real estate transactions to date, she is an advisor with CPROP.io and Block66.io, and speaks publicly about blockchain tech in real estate.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
It started a little over a year and a half ago when some prospective buyers randomly found me online. I’d been a realtor for almost three years, and was still relatively new at it. So one weekend these buyers asked if I would take them to look at a house in Manhattan Beach. We really hit it off. As we looked at a few homes they said, ‘oh, and by the way, we’re going to buy in bitcoin.’ That certainly got my attention. Honestly, I had heard about bitcoin at that point. I remember hearing about it when it first came out and kind of looked into it a little bit. But because it had some negative connotations in addition to being highly volatile, I thought ‘oh, no. That’s not something I want to be in.’
I just let it go for a few years until these potential buyers found me. They had a lot of bitcoin, did business and even paid each other in it. Eventually they found a $3.2 million dollar house that they wanted to purchase in all cash and bitcoin and we just made it happen. As the story goes there had been only one other bitcoin transaction in California that I know of at the time and that was a few years ago in Lake Tahoe. So I’m working backwards and have no idea where to start. I’m just Googling like crazy. We found out that BitPay was involved in that transaction so got in touch with them. I just did searches like crazy on LinkedIn. I also discovered the International Blockchain Real Estate Association and reached out to see how they might be able to help. Just anything I could get my hands on. It didn’t help that the sellers direct agent was dead set against utilizing bitcoin from day one. So it was me calming his nerves almost every day telling him that this was for real and convincing him that we’re not out to scam anyone. Showing proof of funds was the first hurdle. The second hurdle was now that we had proof of funds, how was the transfer of these funds going to take place. In other words, how is BitPay who we selected as the processor going to make this happen.
Fortunately, the seller was young and hip enough to go, “oh yea, I can just open a BitPay account and everything will be fine.” So she did and that’s how we transferred the funds.
But seven days before we were supposed to close the escrow lawyers got a hold of it and said “ no, we’re out, we’re not going to touch this. We’re not going to close for you. We’re done.” So we had to scramble and find another escrow company that could do this in seven days.
There’s more. While we were trying to get all of our ducks in a row, bitcoin surged and my client decides to purchase a Lamborghini with some of the extra money he made in bitcoin. That’s when I thought, “OMG, send me the sales receipt” Since it was a lambo dealership down in Orange County that accepts bitcoin through BitPay. I thought, “please send me any documentation you can.”
Here’s the good news. When he bought the lambo he provided me with the documentation of that transaction. So I was able to prove that, yes, this is not crazy internet nerd money. This is the real deal because he just purchased a $250,000 car with it. Now we can buy this house. So that helped tremendously in terms of getting this deal through.
All of this eventually turned into the Crypto Realty Group. We went on to do three more transactions yet I wasn’t even thinking about starting a company doing these. It was kinda like just this novelty thing I was doing along with my other traditional real estate practice. Then a colleague of mine said: “look, you have a thing here. You should start a company and focus on this.” I’m like, really?
I started going to Blockchain events, meeting people in the space and their eyes got so big. When I told them that I had done four transactions already, they were like OMG, are you kidding me? So that’s how it started. I started a LLC and its kinda taken off from there. That was last summer.
Now there are a ton of agents who want more information because there’s not a lot out there in terms of these types of transactions. And I’m personally hearing from buyers and sellers all over the world. There’s often a lot of talk before something actually happens but I’m more than happy to consult, especially if there are a lot of traditional real estate agents that just don’t want to go with this. I’m happy to step in and do a consultation.
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
Yes — www.cprop.io is about to launch their token. They’re working to create an end-to-end transaction process using blockchain technology with trusted vendors, smart contracts, title, escrow, and even payment gateways. www.block66.io is creating a loan process that will take as little as 48 hours to fund.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Robin Milonakis — she is the regional VP of First Team Christie’s in Newport Beach and Manhattan Beach where I hang my license. She has always been a supporter and mentor in getting my company off the ground. She knows we’re onto something that will change the real estate industry for the better, and has set up meetings and put me in the same room with important people in the industry I may not have gotten the opportunity to meet.
What are the 5 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- We as Realtors will be able to complete transactions in just days rather than 30–60 day escrows, which obviously cuts down on the time but also the sky-high costs that can be associated with closing.
-The human margin of error is so much more narrow. Because of smart contracts, there will be the necessary checks and balances implemented so nothing is overlooked.
- Crowdfunding. The dream of owning a home will be so much more accessible to buyers who previously may not have had the chance.
- Verification. We will be able to look up potential clients who have gone through the prequalification process with a hash associated with their information, saving everyone time.
-Transparency! ALL parties associated with the transaction will be able to log on and know where we are in the process at all times.
What are the 5 things worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- Real estate agents claiming they know how to do a transaction when they’ve never done one — it’s one thing to say you know how to do it but it’s an entirely different ballgame when you’re in one (trust me on this!) creative problem solving is important and we do it everyday in regular transactions, but new problems surface with crypto transactions most agents aren’t equipped to deal with.
- The stigma. So Bitcoin got off to a rough start, big deal. Some agents who have been in the industry much longer than I have are afraid to associate with it, and some potential clients get wind that I’m in the space and it scares them. I lost a client once because of that.
- Human error. Even though blockchain tech will mitigate much of it, we don’t know what we don’t know.
- ICO bubble. I don’t think there is a bitcoin bubble, but there will be an ICO bubble if it’s not already in the works.
- Junky ICOs, especially in the real estate industry. Many are racing to be the first to do something without checking the legalities and regulations from state to state and country to country. All they care about is “cross border” implementation but they’re opening themselves up for a lot a lawsuits.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
- I’m able to set my own schedule now, whereas when I was in entertainment I couldn’t do that as much. I now have no excuse for not being able to volunteer! I drive for Meals on Wheels when I can as well as volunteer with animals, and help the other causes that are dear to me like women’s’ rights. This year, I was able to schedule a flight out to see my mom for her 70th birthday and I know that meant the world to her.
What 3 things would you advise to someone who wanted to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?
- Seriously educate yourself on the crypto market. Like I said earlier, I know several agents who brand themselves as “crypto agents” not knowing a thing about it. I know it may be a cool trend right now, but if you end up getting a serious client, you need to be able to have real conversations.
- Get your ducks in a row. Gather your team players who will help you complete your transactions, whether it’s payment processors, title, lenders, etc. Be ready to go.
-Have the right people on your side. Going into business for the first time can be scary and expensive. I’ve had “partners” in the past who talked a great game but didn’t want to do the actual work involved to carry it through. Sometimes it’s better to lay the foundation the way you envision THEN invite the players in, that way you’re spending 100% of your energy on your dream rather than having to split that trying motivate the unmotivated.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)
Professionally, I’d like to meet Tom Ferry. He’s an amazing coach in the real estate industry who is always staying ahead of the tech curve and I’d love to sit down and share ideas.