Blockchain Real Estate — The Future of Housing

This post was written by Josh Graham, the founder and CEO of EHAB

The future of housing, Part 1: Building Houses with the blockchain

The current housing market is broken, prices spiral out of control whilst the quality of the product remains the same or rises ever so slightly with regulation. This is primarily because global residential development and investment is dominated by large companies and funds, with profit as their only incentive. They speculatively develop housing and they receive the enormous profits associated with this development, primarily because of an undersupply of housing, which incidentally they control.

The EHAB platform is designed to transition the residential housebuilding sector from a centralised, unsustainable, profit driven sector. To one which is led by people. To one which maximises human well-being, minimises impact on the environment and allows for a more equitable distribution in the financial gains of housing.

How does ehab help you?

At the moment you have no control over what houses come onto the housing market, and building your own home is time consuming, complicated and expensive. The ehab platform is here to give you choice. This starts from the dashboard where you can quickly find out about the costs and benefits of certain house types, you can browse the styles of house our partners can deliver and you can easily, digitally design your dream home.

The platform enables you to crowdfund the development finance to build your project, and offers flexible, competitive e-mortgages. As your project progresses you will be able to see live updates recorded on the blockchain, giving you peace of mind that the project is progressing smoothly.

The blockchain rebuilding communities

Communities are disappearing from our towns and cities because of bad design decisions, a loss of interest or a lack of pride in the place we live and the rarity of neighbourhood wide interactions. The ehab platform is here to empower communities.

This starts with handing a group of strangers a project to make collective design decisions for. Each user will have a cryptographic identify and will have an interest in making positive choices for the local area, because their home will be there. Interaction is encouraged to generate new ideas and immutable votes are cast to inform the master planners of the community’s wants and needs. This blockchain based, collaborative design process is direct democracy in it’s purest form.

Creating cities people actually want

Cities have evolved, mostly at random, over incredibly long time periods, and as such are a mishmash of influences and architectural styles. Many cities are undoubtedly beautiful, but their primary function; to be a place where the inhabitants can flourish, is often not fully realised or completely forgotten. The ehab platform is here to help overhaul existing cities and create new ones. This starts with gathering the requirements of inhabitants to start to build an interconnecting network of needs. This data will be visually shown alongside information about green space density, ideal cycle path widge, the required frequency of primary schools and so on. This would build an incredibly accurate picture of changes that could be made to the city and should be a resource for pursuing those improvements.

The ehab platform can only successfully achieve this if we can recruit pioneering first users to the network. Buy tokens here to be part of our movement, or read part 2 of the future of housing for more information.

The future of housing, Part 2: Our motivations

The current housing market is dominated by the private sector, they see record profits because an undersupply of housing pushes prices up on a product which has not changed for 50 years. We continue to look to them to offer a solution, but the truth is, why should they change their business model or innovate? The status quo is working pretty well for them.

The ehab platform is designed to bring people together and give them access to the most innovative housing technologies, which are in fact low cost and low impact. We can empower people to tackle the crisis of housing supply with affordable and sustainable homes. These homes will be owned by the inhabitants, the local community and the global community. The platform enables us all to self finance our own development, by taking money out of traditional banks and putting them into our own futures we can finance the future of housing and share in the profits.

The global affordability crises

A 2014 report by the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that across the developing and developed world, 330 million urban households live in substandard housing or are financially stretched by housing costs. At the current trajectory this will be 440 million households by 2025, or 1.6 billion people. This is one of the three main reasons we are developing the ehab platform, so that we can begin to tackle a problem which undermines a universally recognised human right.

The report recommends tackling 4 issues of affordability:

  1. Unlocking land supply
  2. Reducing construction costs
  3. Improved operations and maintenance
  4. Lowering financing costs for buyers and developers

Our platform addresses each solution listed above:

  1. Land is a big part of the costs for homebuilding.
    The platform brings together multiple stakeholders in a collaborative way which allows resources to be pooled and land costs to be shared through economies of scale.
  2. Current construction methods have not improved for 50 years
    Only developers who use off-site or modern methods of construction (MMC) can build houses for users on the platform. MMC is more time, labour, cost and energy efficient. If we can supply a constant stream of orders to these companies then costs will continually come down.
  3. Homes are still expensive to run and unsustainable
    Only developers who build homes to the highest standard of sustainability can offer homes through our platform. Effective insulation and using inbuilt renewable technologies can massively reduce the running costs of a home.
  4. Being a smaller developer or a less well off home buyer limits your access to finance
    Our platform is fundamentally a global crowdfunding tool, allowing the local community, local organisations and anyone, anywhere to contribute and earn a decent return on their investment.

The unspoken loneliness epidemic of modern societies

Loneliness and a lack of community are on the rise in modern societies for a number of different reasons. We know that this negatively impacts mental and physical wellbeing, but it isn’t really on the agenda anywhere. This is one of the three main reasons we are developing the ehab platform, so that we can begin to tackle a problem which affects everyone at different stages of their life.

Building a strong community is all about making people feel they belong, having a shared sense of purpose and valuing the community itself. The platform gives you the collective power to make decisions which will impact you, your family and your neighbours for years to come. Through the process of building your own neighbourhood there will be hundreds of interactions and through this a community will be forged.

The unsustainable cities of today

The UN Habitat Committee produced a report in 2011 which found cities take up 2% of the available land on the planet but account for 70% of global CO2 emissions. This incredible concentration of climate impact makes cities the perfect place to focus on mitigating climate change. This is one of the three main reasons we are developing the ehab platform, so that we can start to build sustainable cities from the bottom up.

Sustainable building technologies have been around for a while, and they are now getting close to reaching price parity with traditional brick and block methods of building homes. The ehab platform is a marketplace to unlock the huge potential sustainable building technologies have. A barrier to sustainable cities has always been cost, but with the help of the ehab platform that is about to change.

If you want to support the ehab project in tackling these issues then please buy tokens here to be part of our movement, or read part 3 of the future of housing for more information.

The future of housing, Part 3: The evolution of the ehab platform

The current housing market is old fashioned, profit driven and offers no solutions for the problems of the modern age. It is system of housing delivery which works against the majority of people and this is simply an unacceptable state of affairs.

The ehab platform is designed to be the housing delivery system of the future. We don’t intend however to build something and be happy with the outcome. Fundamental to our business model is the lean startup methodology, which means we must be in a contacts state of improvement. We want this platform to continually evolve so that it always changes to suit the needs of the people using it.

An evolving platform for you

We want the platform to be the access point for lots of additional functionality to do with a buyers new home. It will firstly be where the buyer will be making e-mortgage repayments, we therefore expect interaction to remain high. Having a platform with high interaction means there are lots of opportunities to engage the user. This personal dashboard should be modular so users can upgrade it and, as more internet of things (IoT) technology is created, can have a location for central control. We anticipate opening a secondary marketplace for IoT housing upgrades to empower buyers to make smarter customisations. The payments for these upgrades could be included into your monthly e-mortgage repayments as a way of more quickly getting the technologies you wish to use.

An evolving platform for communities

At the heart of our motivation for creating this platform is community. Once the community is created the ehab dashboard will allow them to self organise, continue to cast votes and make community wide decisions, long after the aesthetic design decisions have ended. We would like to see this community dashboard be modular so that it can be adapted and upgraded to suit the needs fo the community. These modules could come from in house developers or external companies with the intention of forming even stronger bonds within the neighbourhood. These modules could for example allow the community to have it’s own micro-economy for local food trading, or create a micro-energy grid where users can trade excess energy. There could be modules which allow the group to purchase energy from the grid as a block and therefore save even more on bills, or a module to unlock a community renewable energy investment scheme to invest in more energy generation capacity.

The evolution of city creation

The creation of new cities will eventually have to happen. The human population is rapidly urbanising and rising sea levels could see the many low lying cities made uninhabitable in the next 100 years or less. A city is an incredibly complex entity of needs and different incoming and outgoing resources. But lots of research is being done on what makes a livable urban environment and what makes a poor one. Many of our current cities fall into this second category because of the historical and cultural evolution they have been through.

On a city wide scale the ehab platform will be amassing large amount of data about the needs of potential inhabitants and have information about energy use and other resource use from the homes already built through the platform. This lends itself well to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. The ehab platform could become or include an AI tasked with making design and zoning decisions. But eventually, with the guidance of human designers and masterplanners, it could present a 3d masterplan of an entire city. It would know all the needs of the people and have all the information collated from around the world about what currently makes the optimum city and it could easily cast votes to the people about decisions it was unsure about.

As this evolution happens the platform is still being used by individuals and communities as a payment mechanism, a mechanism for direct democracy and micro-grid management. The AI could increase its functionality to effectively monitor payment flows and identify cost savings. Humans could propose citywide initiatives, digital improvements, physical improvements, art projects or events and crowdfund the capital for this, all receiving suggestions from the AI about the optimum locations for these to be held or built. The AI could help broker energy deals between various microgrids to create a collection of microgrids which help balance the inflow and outflow of renewably generated energy.

All of these iterations would be recorded on the blockchain, and every inhabitant, young or old, could scroll back through the history of ehab to the day the first home was built on the platform, all the way through to the day the first crowdfunded city was democratically financed and built.

Any future city must meet the needs of its inhabitants, and enable them to flourish, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs and flourish (adapted from Bruntland Commission, 1987).

If you agree that there needs to be a change in how we build our world then buy some tokens and join our movement.