If the prospect of buying a property seems out of reach, Republic wants to change that.
The private investment platform has developed the very first NFT digital real estate fund called Republic Realm, which invests exclusively in properties located in the virtual world. Republic Realm’s subsidiary OpenDeal Inc. last month received a US $ 36 million cash injection, in part from large crypto investment firm Galaxy Digital, which helped propel its digital real estate business. forward.
The company said a mix of several factors has fueled recent interest in virtual real estate: the proliferation of emerging technologies, such as virtual reality; improving blockchain assets, such as cryptocurrencies and NFTs; and the concomitant pandemic that has changed much of our lives online.
“A lot of these trends are converging now and COVID-19 has really accelerated their growth,” TJ Kawamura, product manager for Republic’s real estate arm, told HYPEBEAST. “I think people are trying to find new ways to engage and build community.”
“It’s not just for nerds anymore,” he joked.
Kawamura has closely followed the evolution of the digital ecosystem over the past three years, which puts him in a privileged position to help launch Republic Realm. The fund focuses on acquiring, managing, and developing virtual land in a variety of popular metavers, including Decentraland, which runs on the Ethereum blockchain, The Sandbox, and Cryptovoxels.
Investments are managed by purchasing NFTs or non-fungible tokens. The coveted blockchain asset is used to prove the scarcity and ownership of a digital asset, and has been adopted by the art, music, gaming, and fashion communities. Republic Realm invests in “plots” of land in these virtual worlds and values the plots according to their size, location and previous sales.
“All of this NFT craze has really taken him to the next level,” he said, noting that the popularity of blockchain has led to a boon in virtual real estate.
“Decentraland is one of the biggest worlds,” he said. “About three years ago you could buy a package for US $ 550. Now it is trading at around US $ 8,000.
The sandbox has also seen a similar trend. “A package was trading at $ 30 four months ago and now it’s trading at $ 880,” he said. “So space is really exploding. ”
Once inside these virtual spaces, the possibilities for creation – and profit – are vast, Kawamura said. He explained that companies can buy land to build virtual storefronts, which can be used to sell merchandise, develop virtual art galleries, or buy and sell advertising space. There are even virtual casinos in these metaverse that pay real people to run their games.
“There are many opportunities for brands to enter and access these new spaces in new and creative ways,” he said.
Digital real estate can also be a more enduring asset for many new investors. While traditional real estate can be expensive and require long-term maintenance, owning virtual land can be a more accessible entry point.
“It’s much more difficult if you want to build a house of your dreams in the real world,” Kawamura said. “You can do it in minutes and it doesn’t require you to be a graphic designer. ”
Virtual real estate has already started to take off. Last month, contemporary artist Krista Kim created a digital house called Mars House on the NFT SuperRare trading platform, which sold for over $ 500,000. Real estate broker Shane Dulgeroff is auctioning a physical house with an NFT on OpenSea.
“Now you have people from the traditional real estate market coming in and saying ‘how do I transfer what I know from the real world to the virtual world?” Kawamura said.
Republic Realm is currently only open to accredited investors. But according to Kawamura, it’s only a matter of time before the virtual real estate industry hits its peak.
“This is the start of the Virtual Renaissance,” he said.