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A local real estate firm is pioneering a new product in the real estate industry, utilizing non-fungible token (NFT) technology.
Millennial Title, with dual headquarters in Louisville and Tampa, Florida, has formed a new sister company, Millennial Blockchain. The new firm offers clients the ability to mint, store and transfer title on properties using NFTs and the blockchain.
Chip Ridge, president of Millennial Title, said the firm had been exploring how to introduce the blockchain into the real estate space for nearly two years.
The firm first focused on the escrow side of things, looking at how it could leverage cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, to assist with the transactional piece of real estate. I reported earlier this year Millennial Title was involved in the first real estate transaction using bitcoin in Kentucky.
It found there’s still a lot of uncertainty in the regulatory environment, so the firm had challenges in finding financial institutions wanting to adopt the practice. Now, with Millennial Blockchain, the firm has pivoted to the recording side of real estate transactions and how the blockchain can be used.
“The other side of it is the actual deed, the recording side of it,” Ridge said. “And so, we’ve been exploring what the utility of putting the deed, the recordation, on the blockchain would look like and how that could impact the future of real estate.”
The company developed a product called Millennial NFT. It represents a “digital twin” and reflects the property ownership on the blockchain as recorded in the county clerk’s office.
Ridge said its first step is putting real estate documentation on the blockchain. The NFT can be any digital representation for the deed.
To utilize this service, clients will need a crypto wallet that is compatible with OpenSea and accepts Ethereum-based digital assets. Ridge said right now, the firm is hosting the information on OpenSea because it’s the largest marketplace for NFTs, but the product could be used in other marketplaces.
Ridge said this is just an early introduction of NFTs in real estate. The purpose of Millennial NFT now is to create a community of NFT holders that will be open to other advancements in the crypto space as they occur.
“Just to be very clear, there’s no legal utility to that NFT. It’s really a baseline element that we’re trying to demonstrate what this could do for our industry,” Ridge said. “And our hope and expectation is through developing a community of NFT holders that we can start to work with other real estate professionals in this space and build out products.”
He gave a few examples of potential uses for NFTs and the blockchain in the real estate industry. One, like mentioned earlier, is working with the clerk’s office to bring its documentation and information onto the blockchain. He also said it opens the potential for lenders to bring mortgages on the blockchain.
Another is the tokenization of real estate, where companies are starting to create fractional ownership opportunities.
“They’re taking ownership of a property and they’re dividing it into, say 100 different elements,” Ridge said. “So now there’s 100 token holders for that one property, and our NFT can be a baseline to do those type of processes.”
Ridge said the blockchain is actually a perfect utility for recording deeds and other types of documents used in real estate transactions because it can’t be changed.
“When you really dig into use case of the technology, our specific industry fits really well within it, but it’s just going to take a lot of mindshare, and it’s going to take a lot of a lot of collaboration, and candidly, a lot of investment,” Ridge said.
Millennial Blockchain isn’t marketing the product to the general public just yet. Ridge said the firm is doing a preferred release, looking for individuals across the U.S. who are early adopters, innovators and influencers in the blockchain and real estate space. At this point, it’s geared toward people who are passionate about web3 development and joining a community of NFT holders, he said.
The company worked with Los Angeles group Yaftee, a blockchain-centric marketing firm. Ridge said it primarily worked in the entertainment industry prior to this, but were interested in how the blockchain can be used in real estate.
A couple other companies have introduced NFTs into real estate, but what Millennial Blockchain is doing is a little different. He said the firm is still working in the traditional channel by just creating a digital twin and not pursuing any legal utility around it.
“Our take is there’s there’s not enough marketplace, adoption and regulatory understanding that would make us feel comfortable doing it, but we feel like soon enough there will start to be,” Ridge said.
Along with the new product, Millennial Title is expanding into two new markets.
The firm opened two new offices in Florida: one in Santa Rosa Beach and one in Doral, right outside Miami. Ridge said both markets made sense from a geographic standpoint to expand its reach across Florida.
“With our Louisville [office], we have some connectivity with people buying second homes and that’s a pretty popular area,” Ridge said.
The main reason the firm decided to expand was talent acquisition. Ridge said in both markets, it found talented individuals to run the operations.
I reported in March Millennial Title recently expanded into six new markets. The firm has grown into Cincinnati; Memphis, Tennessee; Somerset, Kentucky; New Albany, Indiana; Dallas, Texas; and Palm Harbor, Florida, which is a suburb of Tampa.
Millennial Title was founded in Tampa in 2015, It now has 11 locations and is licensed in 23 states. The firm was on Louisville Business First’s Fast 50 list in 2019. Last year, we reported the firm expanded into Nashville, Tennessee, and Northern Kentucky. Prior to that, it only had a presence in Louisville and Tampa.
The Louisville base is located at 130 St. Matthews Ave. It has about 36 employees companywide, with about eight in Louisville. Ridge said the company has an annual revenue of $5 million.
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