Miami real estate team is blazing the Bitcoin trail

by Kelly McCabe

Chances are, you’ve seen a lot of news about Bitcoin lately, with news about its shares surging to a record high, then, a few days later, news about those shares plummeting only to spike again to another new high before falling again.

Sure, the financial fortunes of Bitcoin can be a bit of a roller coaster, but it’s one that the Miami Realtor team of Stephan Burke and Carol Chassis are riding happily because they say the cryptocurrency offers more benefits and bigger payoffs. The duo, who make up the Cassis Burke Collection, have established themselves as leaders in Miami real estate. With nearly 40 years of combined experience, the duo are one of the top-selling teams at Brown Harris Stevens and have more than $500 million in combined sales.

But a chance listing in 2014 set the team in a new direction: pioneering the use of Bitcoin in real estate transactions. That year, Burke and Cassis became one of the first — if not the first — Realtors in the country to sell a home to a buyer who had converted their Bitcoin to cash to purchase the property.

Now with two such sales under its belt, Cassis Burke Collection is diving further into the Bitcoin real estate world.

“We’re very proud of it,” Cassis said. “We want to give our clients a new way to do business. We saw the trend coming, and we took that forward way of thinking first. Not everybody understands it, but we want to give our clients a new way of doing business.”

Two sides of the Bitcoin

Much like any new technology or application of it, Bitcoin in real estate has its fair share of detractors. Some point to the cryptocurrency’s financial ups and downs, some worry about its relative lack of regulation, and many shrug it off as just another newfangled fad.

However, Burke and Chassis say Bitcoin offers more benefits than drawbacks when used in real estate transactions.

For Realtors, there isn’t much of a difference in the process no matter what type of currency is used, but buyers who use Bitcoin will notice a huge difference. Overall, the buying process is quicker because buyers don’t have to qualify for a mortgage or get an appraisal.

“There are no contingencies,” Burke says. “It’s like a cash deal except that it’s not cash.”

Cassis Burke Collection is just getting started: It hopes to facilitate the first Bitcoin-to-Bitcoin home sale in the country.

Moving in Miami

It turns out that the sale that sparked Cassis Burke Collection’s interest in Bitcoin was to trader Mike Komaransky, an early investor in Bitcoin. He told the Miami New Times that in the early days of his involvement with the cryptocurrency, that he’d buy random things like trinkets or dinner with Bitcoin to show his support. When it came time to buy a house in Coral Gables in 2014, he ponied up and did the same — after converting it to cash.

Now, Komaransky is selling the house, and he turned to Burke and Cassis to represent him, with one twist: He’ll gladly accept Bitcoin for the nearly 10,000-square-foot, seven-bedroom, eight-and-a-half bath home.

The Miami metro area is positioned nearly perfectly to be the epicenter of Bitcoin real estate transactions in the United States. The city is a global one that attracts investors from around the world — in fact, according to a recent report from Florida Realtors, the state had the most international investment this year, to the tune of $24.2 billion earlier this month. Bitcoins transfer easily and quickly across any borders without the typical waiting period of three business days, extra fees or limitations.

New money, new currency

In an unsurprising development, Bitcoin has been more readily embraced by millennials. The generation that spurred the rise of ride-sharing apps to catch rides in strangers’ cars across town, or to get a place to stay in a stranger’s home in a new city, is just as willing to use a cryptocurrency to make just about any purchase.

And more Americans than ever are flush with new money, and they’re looking for new ways to use and spend that money. Burke points to a report earlier this year from Spectrem Group that found at the end of 2016, there were 10.8 million millionaires in the U.S., a new record and a whopping 400,000 more than 2015.

“All of a sudden they have high buying power,” he said of the growing shift to Bitcoin. “It’s a newfound way of purchase power — it’s just part of the new generation.”

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