The metaverse, a re-imagined social future, or ambitious utopia doomed for failure? The camp may be split but opinions aside, the metaverse already exists. Albeit not the polished dream Zuckerberg conjured in December 21, but very real, virtual worlds with new possibilities to be considered, particularly for those of us in property.
“Imagine if you came to New York when it was farmland, and you had the option to get a block of SoHo. If someone wants to buy a block of real estate in SoHo today, it’s priceless, it’s not on the market. That same experience is going to happen in the metaverse.” These are the words of Mr Gord, COO of The Metaverse Group, a leading virtual real estate company who offer buying, selling, letting, and consultancy services for virtual properties. Whether or not you agree with Gord’s premise, virtual property is being snapped up and companies like this do exist and are growing with demand and investment in the metaverse.
Let’s look at Decentraland, one of the more popular ‘verses’ backed by the euthereum blockchain. In this 3D virtual world users can create, explore, interact, and buy and sell property. Cryptocurrency is used to purchase NFTs (non-fungible tokens); unique cryptographic assets that prove ownership of virtual products. Interestingly, Decentraland only contains 90,000 parcels of LAND, each roughly 50x50ft. As such investors are already speculating the potential value of these parcels with a record breaking $2.43million patch of digital LAND being sold in November 21. Brands are also starting to explore options in this space. Samsung opened a virtual version of its flagship store, Samsung 837X, in early January this year. Walmart is rumoured to be entering the metaverse with its own collections of NFTs and potential currency. With virtual HQs and stores already being built, a new market has been created for brokering deals.
Obviously, agents and brokers are not yet qualified to support on deals previously mentioned but is this set to change? Will we see the rise of ‘Meta Property Consultants’ that form an extension of agency teams? Will it become a requirement of industry personnel to advise on both real world and virtual acquisitions? Will hybrid-working take place in virtual offices owned by corporates? Or is this just the next fad that will never surmount to more than an immersive video game?
It’s early days but at SHB we’re watching this space closely to see how it develops, particularly what the likes of Microsoft, Google and other brands will bring to the table. There is a long way to go and the technology needs to catchup to the concept. However, if this manages to break into the mass market then we will have to pay attention, if by that point there is any virtual LAND left?!