In August 2014, a secret buyer contacted the realty arm of Martis Camp, a luxury real estate community in North Lake Tahoe in California, with an unorthodox deal: a purchase of land for 2,739 Bitcoins. At the time, the cryptocurrency that recently turned the Brothers Winklevoss into a pair of Bitcoin billionaires was worth about $580 per coin. Multiply that 2,739 times over, and the buyer paid $1.6 million for a 1.4-acre piece of land.
“Many of our buyers are in the tech sector and are early adopters of Bitcoin. We understand the importance of adapting to cutting-edge purchasing methods,” said Martis Camp sales director Brian Hull, who described the buyer only as a “Silicon Valley entrepreneur.”
That Bitcoin-financed real estate transaction was one of the largest, but it was not the first. Five months earlier, in March 2014, another secret buyer purchased a villa in Bali for 800 Bitcoins, or roughly the equivalent of $500,000. Two months later, a suburban home in Kansas City, Missouri, sold for the same amount. Last September, a buyer—identified only as working in the tech industry—bought a single-family home in Austin, Texas.
Most of these transactions involved the buyer converting Bitcoin into U.S. dollars to make the purchase—a liquidation of assets, much in the same way a first-time homebuyer might use investment dollars to afford a down payment.
Then, in late December, what was considered to be the first Bitcoin-only real estate deal went down when Ivan “Paychecks” Pacheco, co-founder of cryptocurrency website Bits to Freedom, transferred 17.741 Bitcoins ($275,000) to a seller to buy a two-bedroom condo in Miami. In early February, Bitcoin investor Michael Komaransky sold his Miami mansion in a deal where the buyer—again, anonymous—paid the $6 million listing price almost entirely in Bitcoins (455, to be exact).
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