The first accounting of all the land in England was first published in 1086, the ominously named Doomsday Book, it documented the holding of the King and how it was distributed among the aristocracy. Almost one thousand years later the wealth of these families is still visible.
In more recent times, the average house price in the US in 1963 was $19,300 ($187,982 adjusted) and by Q3 of 2022 this has climbed to $542,900, now increasing Year on Year by 17%. This makes it one of the best secure returns available, with any downturns correcting quickly.
This brings us to the question: Why have more people not taken advantage of this wealth building tool?
The oldest market in the world is slow, inefficient, and run by institutions.
Through the history of real estate ownership there has been institutional motives to control access to it. The process known as “Red-lining”, where financial support for home ownership was restricted in certain neighbourhoods, is responsible for a significant portion of the wealth inequality in the United States today.
Outside of these issues, the barriers to entry into real estate have been historically high, and are becoming higher as demand outstrips supply. The upfront capital, creditworthiness, and risk continues to place real-estate investment, particularly as part of a portfolio, outside the reach of many people.
In practical terms, the linking of investments to an immovable object presents challenges of liquidity and exacerbates risk. The average real-estate transaction takes 30 days to complete and involves multiple layers of fees and professional services that can degrade the value of the transaction.
While this transpires, the physical property is subject to environmental risk like damage and degradation, and shifts in the local economy and property market, something which caused huge economic damage to individuals in industrialising areas of the United States.
Alternatives for investors have traditionally included Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) that spread their investments across multiple properties and markets to take advantage of the overall upward trend and mitigate local fluctuations. Many can be traded as stocks and have a level of liquidity to them above the liquidity of the real-estate asset itself.
These can work well for some forms of investors who are willing to sacrifice control of their capital and lose some of its liquidity in exchange for security and convenience. These can also come with upfront investments that customers might not have available or feel comfortable locking into a commitment.
Fractional Real Estate Investment
As we have seen with investment retail-trading in recent years, progress in technology has begun to disrupt and change this market. EstateX is an organisation developing investment and payment tools that will use blockchain technology to produce their own real-estate backed digital assets.
Blockchain is a system of distributing a collective ledger that tracks ownership through a decentralised system of transactions. This can be used to track the movement of things like ownership rights of artworks, digital currency, and the digital trading of securities. These can be bought and sold through exchanges that operate 24/7.
Fractional investment allows investors to own portions of multiple properties through a single digital asset that can be stored, traded, and liquidated in speeds closer to minutes than the weeks that would be required for traditional investment assets. The liquidation channels and choice of portfolio options being left to the investor, rather than a fund manager, allows for migration of the significant risk associated with single property investing.
EstateX has developed their EstateX Pay platform that will give investors a physical Mastercard
of Equity and Equality
Major investment institutions, similar to most forms of banking, have usually catered to retail investors as a secondary market due to their relatively small capital offerings. As a result, the utilities available have been geared towards the convenience of these larger customers. In contrast, fledgling retail investors that are more interested in high liquidity assets and direct access to their returns have been underserved.
Platforms like EstateX aim to support smaller investors by allowing entry for as low as $100 and paying dividends on a daily basis from the first day of investment. Regular and easily accessible dividends also allow for investors working towards building a passive income lifestyle.
Through the high returns possible in the real estate sector allowing for a hedge against and above inflation, new platforms like EstateX could have the potential to create opportunities for previously marginalised communities by giving them access to wealth building tools they have been historically restricted from.