Blockchain is a fascinating proposition in real estate – and it is certainly an area where startups are looking to make their mark. Just last month, as reported by CoinDesk, the US National Association of Realtors (NAR) made a significant investment in Propy, a startup which enables users to transact real estate with deals recorded on a blockchain.
The opportunities are significant, including better transparency on transactions – a vital use case for any blockchain, but real estate particularly – and offering greater security, as well as creating efficiencies around processes and costs. One company, however, is looking to go about things a little differently.
Kahuna Group, a brokerage, development and construction firm based in Charlotte, North Carolina, is producing its own platform, built on Ethereum, to ‘transform the way we rent, sell and buy property around the world’, in the company’s own words, as well as a token and a wallet.
This can be seen as the next step for a company which has developed and built more than half a billion dollars’ worth of real estate over the years. Yet the wider intent certainly does justice to the original statement, as Steven Whitworth, partner at Kahuna Group, explains.
“We’re not here to reinvent the wheel,” says Whitworth. “This industry is well established globally, [but] there are inefficiencies in it. Our primary focus has for a long time been hard real estate, and if we were going to get into something like this, we really wanted it to be a well-rounded, mutually beneficial outcome. We’re not looking for a one-sided win – we wanted something that worked for everybody.”
Whitworth agrees when The Block asks whether the platform and assortments are trying to close the gap between tenants and landlords. This is where ‘behavioural mining’, as the company calls it, comes into play. “As opposed to applying computing power to mine tokens, you can use your own personal behaviour as a tenant,” Whitworth explains. If tenants pay their rent on time, keep their apartment clean and don’t have any noise complaints – as is expected of them, of course – this becomes its own currency which can enable payment of rent or other services.
“With that, hopefully there’s an ancillary benefit for the landlord,” Whitworth says. “They can potentially end up with a better referral base, happier tenants… and lower maintenance costs.”
One area Kahuna saw as particularly important was the user experience; it had to be as easy to use and intuitive as a regular mobile app, and not create an additional burden. “One of the key points for us was that the implementation has to be essentially zero cost,” says Whitworth. “You’re not going to come into an industry like this with a technology at a new cost and get people to adopt it. The way we think about it is there is no onboarding cost – this is a web-based and mobile-based platform.”
This is the ultimate goal here; creating value for all stakeholders without creating additional cost. “We owned several apartment complexes, and we went through the same challenges other landlords and tenants go through, and we’re trying to find ways to improve that relationship for both parties,” says Whitworth. “And we think we’ve found the solution in blockchain. Through the issuance of tokens, something that has its own value on its own platform, and our ability to issue those really at will, there’s no cost to the landlord, no cost to the tenant.
“We can create and have a value chain within that group that benefits everybody.”
You can find out more about Kahuna Token by visiting here.
Interested in hearing more in person? Find out more at the Blockchain Expo World Series, Global, Europe and North America.