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By Riley Kaminer
The internet has made it easier than ever to buy major assets like cars, yachts, and even an entire town online in a matter of seconds. Still, it takes an average of 50 days to close the relatively mundane transaction of buying a house.
Silicon Valley-turned-Miami startup Propy is flipping the script on the real estate market with its NFT-powered home buying and selling platform.
“We are focused on automating the home buying process,” founder and CEO Natalia Karayaneva told Refresh Miami. She noted that the various fees associated with the traditional home buying process are eating into consumers’ savings.
“That’s why we have developed the best technology to make home buying more secure and liquid, using the blockchain and smart contracts,” Karayaneva [pictured above] explained.
The idea is that prospective buyers can tour a home (in a metaverse environment or in the physical world), see an inspection report – and then purchase the house in just a few clicks. From there, the record of ownership gets placed in your secure wallet. Home purchases can be made in crypto or fiat.
When you’re ready to sell it, you can perform the same process in reverse. Or if your property has not yet had its NFT minted, Propy can connect you with a crypto certified agent to help get your house ready for sale.
According to Karayaneva, Propy’s process of purchasing a home is more efficient than traditional methods, which involve upwards of 80 professionals from a handful of separate firms. “You can lose the house, you can lose the contract, you can lose the money – it’s a very insecure process,” she asserted. “And that’s why 10% of the purchase price ends up going towards those expenses, to actually make it fairly secure. But instead we can utilize smart contracts.”
Early investors and users have found this model compelling. Since being founded in 2016, Propy has secured almost $17 million in venture funding. The startup reports having sold over $5 billion worth of properties through its platform, with more than 10,000 homes transferred via blockchain.
Additionally, Propy currently has around 10,000 licensed real estate agents in their network. Propy instructs these agents on the basics of web3, enabling them to better understand the industry as well as the startup’s platform itself.
Karayaneva expects this growth trajectory to continue, if not accelerate. “The web3 space has changed dramatically over the years,” she said.
“It has evolved to an extent that I didn’t expect,” she continued. “Cryptocurrency is going through a stage of mass adoption. Previously, it was only for geeks and engineers. Now everyone in America knows about cryptocurrency.”
For Karayaneva, the boom in NFTs over the last year or so was an unexpected boon for Propy’s business. The rise in this asset class has been beneficial because it normalized the idea of administering digital wallets containing our assets.
While art might be the main medium for NFTs at the moment, Karayaneva believes that this is just the beginning. “We used to transfer information through the internet. Now we transfer value and rights, using NFTs.”
This is not the first crypto winter for the Propy team. “We survived the first,” Karayaneva said, leaving her no reason to believe that Propy would not survive this market downturn as well.
This time though, the housing market is also in flux. Karayaneva sees house prices normalizing in the next twelve months, with inflating interest rates leading to a reduction in home sales. But she does not expect us to experience anything along the lines of 2008/9.
No matter what happens to the broader market, Karayaneva plans to keep Propy on the path towards innovation. “We’re very stable and well capitalized. Now it’s time to build and emerge even stronger after the recession.”
Karayaneva landed in Miami last year, attracted by the growing ecosystem of tech entrepreneurs. “Silicon Valley turned into a bubble while Miami became so exciting, with fresh energy, and a great mixture of people from California and New York, as well as locals.” Of course, the pleasant weather and favorable tax environment were also major draws.
Six of Propy’s 30 full-time employees and 20 contractors are based in South Florida. Karayaneva founded the company alongside Denitza Tyufekchieva and Maria Angelova. Karayaneva is a real estate veteran, having worked as a developer for 15 years before transitioning into the tech space to start Propy. She is also an advisor at blockchain hedge fund Arrington XRP Capital.
Propy will be hosting their Web3 and Real Estate Summit in Miami Oct. 27-28. Last year’s event featured a wide range of local and national names, including Melissa Medina, Mayor Francis Suarez, and Nabyl Charania.
On Sept. 27, Propy will be dropping a collection of NFT avatars geared toward real estate agents [pictured below]. “Agents in our network wanted a cool avatar, but the popular ones are already very expensive,” Karayaneva said of the original motivation to launch the project.
These NFT avatars will give owners access to a DAO focused on virtual real estate. It will also give owners access to the startup’s upcoming summit, as well as courses that will teach real estate agents about the metaverse.
To further fuel this expansion, the team hopes to raise a Series A within the next six months.
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