Proptech and the Metaverse: Virtually No One Thinks It's There Yet – Commercial Observer

                    © 2017 Observer Media&nbsp;·&nbsp;<a href="https://commercialobserver.com/terms">Terms</a>&nbsp;·&nbsp;<a href="https://commercialobserver.com/privacy">Privacy</a>                   <br><i><span style="font-weight: 400">“There are more things on heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” – William Shakespeare, “Hamlet”</span></i><br><span style="font-weight: 400">To be or not to be. That seems to be the question facing the proptech industry regarding real estate in the metaverse.</span><br><span style="font-weight: 400">And the answer so far seems to be, by and large: not. </span><br><span style="font-weight: 400">“In terms of virtual land, it’s very speculative right now because the companies that are selling and kind of transacting don’t have really anything engaging,” said Bryan Colin, co-founder and CEO of </span><a href="https://www.viewlabs.com/"><span style="font-weight: 400">View Labs</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400">, </span><span style="font-weight: 400">a provider of video and digital technologies that combine real, mixed-reality and digital worlds for real estate. “It’s </span><span style="font-weight: 400">kind of like we’re selling some space in a world that will be developed, hopefully will build this type of engagement, and people will come back and buy it.”</span><br><span style="font-weight: 400">The problem, Colin added, is that such metaverse “property” only has speculators buying in the hope of reselling at a higher price. </span><br><span style="font-weight: 400">“There’s not really a way to monetize it elsewhere because there’s not people spending any money on it,” he said, contrasting the trend with cryptocurrencies like Ethereum and Bitcoin, which have developed into national currencies or investment platforms upon which businesses are being built.</span><br><span style="font-weight: 400">As of today, real estate in the metaverse is a classic “fake-it-til-you-make-it” technology meme, a virtual world without real people or objects, purpose or profit, that may or may not imitate real life. It’s also capable of exaggerating reality through the creation of 5,000-foot towers and endless properties to be developed, and it’s inhabited by who knows who and for who knows what ultimate purpose.</span><br><span style="font-weight: 400">Of course, some </span><a href="https://investorplace.com/2022/01/8-metaverse-cryptos-to-buy-for-a-bet-on-next-gen-real-estate/"><span style="font-weight: 400">investment advisers</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400"> are ready to tout a gold rush to metaverse real estate speculation as the next big thing in 2022, asking investors to bet on blockchain and cryptocurrency platforms to support virtual worlds of property transactions.</span><br><span style="font-weight: 400">However, is there even agreement on what the metaverse is, let alone what its application is, if any, in real estate and proptech? Like the early days of the internet when it was capitalized as “Internet,” the “Metaverse” is today sometimes given the uppercase first letter, perhaps to signal its uniqueness, newness and to add gravitas.</span><br><span style="font-weight: 400">Doubts surround it, though, whomever its fans and whatever its capitalization.</span><br><span style="font-weight: 400">“</span><span style="font-weight: 400">But real estate investing in the metaverse still is highly speculative, and no one knows for sure whether this boom is the next big thing or the next big bubble,” as </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400">The New York Times</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400"> put it in November 2021.</span><br><i><span style="font-weight: 400">The Wall Street Journal </span></i><span style="font-weight: 400">joined the conversation last week with a </span><a href="https://www.wsj.com/video/series/current-features/investors-buy-up-metaverse-real-estate-in-virtual-land-boom/9620D8C3-3B38-48F7-9019-5C20F52D68CB?mod=hp_trending_now_video_pos4"><span style="font-weight: 400">video</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400"> that attempted to explain the value of real estate in the metaverse.</span><br><span style="font-weight: 400">In another attempt to link property to the metaverse, Christopher Mitchell, CEO and co-founder of proptech company </span><a href="https://geopi.pe/"><span style="font-weight: 400">Geopipe</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400">, which bills itself as “the authoritative whole-Earth digital twin, built by AI,” last year wrote a </span><a href="https://geopi.pe/blog/posts/the-real-metaverse-is-earth"><span style="font-weight: 400">blog post</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400"> on the symbiosis between </span><a href="https://commercialobserver.com/2021/10/willow-digital-twinning-proptech/"><span style="font-weight: 400">the actual digital twinning of real estate</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400"> and its applications in the metaverse. While aptly describing the technological depth and potential of the metaverse, the blog post did not address how value would be realistically created and grow in such a virtual environment.</span><br><span style="font-weight: 400">Indeed, though, even f</span><span style="font-weight: 400">inding a useful definition of the metaverse can be challenging.</span><br><span style="font-weight: 400">For instance, </span><span style="font-weight: 400">Tony Parisi, a self-identified “</span><span style="font-weight: 400">Metaverse </span><a href="https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=OG"><span style="font-weight: 400">OG</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400">, entrepreneur and investor,” has attempted to define the metaverse in his </span><a href="https://app.getresponse.com/click.html?x=a62b&lc=SvSeaM&mc=9J&s=BBGpbO4&u=QyKs4&z=EyjQFKa&"><span style="font-weight: 400">Seven Rules of the Metaverse</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400">:</span><br><i><span style="font-weight: 400">Rule #1. There is only one Metaverse.</span></i><br><i><span style="font-weight: 400">Rule #2: The Metaverse is for everyone.</span></i><br><i><span style="font-weight: 400">Rule #3: Nobody controls the Metaverse.</span></i><br><i><span style="font-weight: 400">Rule #4: The Metaverse is open.</span></i><br><i><span style="font-weight: 400">Rule #5: The Metaverse is hardware-independent.</span></i><br><i><span style="font-weight: 400">Rule #6: The Metaverse is a Network.</span></i><br><i><span style="font-weight: 400">Rule #7: The Metaverse is the Internet.</span></i><br><span style="font-weight: 400">Everything clear now?</span><br><span style="font-weight: 400">Closer to real estate’s reality, James Dearsley, proptech expert and co-founder of </span><a href="https://www.unissu.com/"><span style="font-weight: 400">Unissu</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400">, a U.K.-based global proptech community and procurement services website, offered these written thoughts on the subject to PropTech Insider:</span><br><span style="font-weight: 400">“Is the metaverse a fad?” Dearsley asked rhetorically. “Yes. Are you late to the party? No. It is just about to get going. This trend isn’t going to be for everyone. Most in our industry won’t have a clue. They may wake up to this ‘trend’ in a few years, when their kids or grandkids tell them about these virtual worlds. They will be too late.”</span><br><span style="font-weight: 400">However, Dearsley points to already existing, non-real estate-centric metaverse sites on which, he said, “Deals are already being done and where we are seeing a new asset class being established that will be completely decentralized in terms of transactions and market forces.</span><br><span style="font-weight: 400">“With virtual HQs and digital showrooms already being built on metaverse platforms like </span><a href="https://decentraland.org/"><span style="font-weight: 400">Decentraland</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400"> and </span><a href="https://www.cryptovoxels.com/"><span style="font-weight: 400">Cryptovoxels</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400">, a market will be established for brokering deals,” Dearsley said.</span><br><span style="font-weight: 400">At this time, existing real estate industry personnel such as agents, brokers and appraisers are not qualified to support such endeavors, but such platforms are, “a demonstration of how new technology trends will establish new roles, perhaps including ‘Virtual Land Broker,’ ‘Meta Property Consultant,’ and the like,” said Dearsely. “Given the deals already out there, these might be quite lucrative in coming years. No previous experience needed.”</span><br><span style="font-weight: 400">Bottom line, though, Dearsley said he isn’t actually seeing property transactions of note being done by companies or individuals at this point in time in the metaVerse. “Nope. It’s too early,” he concluded.</span><br><span style="font-weight: 400">However, in yet another qualifier to the possible immenency and worth of metaverse-based real estate transactions, Dearsley, along with a few proptech experts who declined to comment on the record for this article, said that they were either preparing or considering webinars and other types of discussions for the near future on such possible virtual property market opportunities.</span><br><span style="font-weight: 400">Given such discussions, it might be important to remember a truism in the world of technology startups: It is better to be late with your innovation than to be too early.</span><br><span style="font-weight: 400">View Labs’ Colin is among these, despite his reservations that it’s too early for property transactions of real worth in the metaverse. </span><br><span style="font-weight: 400">“We are getting involved very shortly,” he said. “Digitizing physical space is something that we’ve done for a long time and it really fits into our vision of what the metaverse should be at a future stage. And certainly the engagement gets me very excited when I look at the numbers from </span><a href="https://www.epicgames.com/fortnite/en-US/home"><span style="font-weight: 400">Fortnite</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400"> and from </span><a href="https://www.roblox.com/"><span style="font-weight: 400">Roblox</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400">, the kind of early generation of what the metaverse looks like. Roblox is getting 49 million unique daily users a day.</span><br><span style="font-weight: 400">“These are substantial numbers and the younger generation has clearly shown that this is the kind of digital entertainment that they like and they come back to it. I think that leads to a lot of exciting opportunities when you have really good content alongside it.”</span><br><i><span style="font-weight: 400">Philip Russo can be reached at </span></i><a href="mailto:prusso@commercialobserver.com"><i><span style="font-weight: 400">prusso@commercialobserver.com</span></i></a><i><span style="font-weight: 400">.</span></i><br>Read the latest edition of the <a href="https://commercialobserver.com/magazine">Commercial Observer</a> online!<br><br><a href="https://commercialobserver.com/2022/01/metaverse-real-estate-brokers-proptech/">source</a>
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