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区块链国际资讯

区块链能否在房贷领域取代银行?

利用区块链技术进行房地产交易正成为现实

创企Propy近期通过其区块链售出了一套位于乌克兰的公寓。自12月最后一周起,该公司允许加州人在其区块链中使用比特币买卖房产,且将于明年允许使用美元。Propy还挂出了房产,其中包括"包装工(Packer House)",一处位于绿湾包装工队体育场与训练场地旁的房产,售价100万美元。

ShelterZoom、RealBlocks等其他创企则以利用分布式账本技术买卖房产为理念,提供各式服务。ShelterZoom创建了以以太坊为基础的平台,已于12月14日上线。RealBlocks则允许人们在其区块链上使用法定或数字货币投资房产(自2018年起可使用该公司自由代币)。迄今,RealBlocks已达成了7笔交易。

分布式账本技术是一项可在多地同时进行交易,签署智能合约的数据库,理论上说不需要中间人。该技术可简化房产投资,将此种复杂的程序变为轻击鼠标就可完成。

在不久的将来,不只是房地产交易,抵押贷款也可能通过区块链完成,而银行将不得不适应此种转变。

区块链的能力

理论上说,几乎所有房地产交易环节都可在区块链上完成。区块链的一大应用前景在于:其可取代如今繁笨的地契与注册程序,即需完成到市政厅工作人员处获取文件等流程。

然而要使上千家地方政府、房主与地产投资商接受区块链上的数字为正式地契是一大挑战。

然而,目前似乎已经有企业突破了这方面的障碍。比如RealBlocks就可以让人们使用区块链像在Section 8上一般对租赁物业进行投资。

RealBlocks的CEO Perrin Quarshie说道:"我们没用成立有限公司去处理购买房产需处理的税收、法律与会计难题,我们在区块链上使用代币使这一程序实现无缝。"

此外,RealBlocks还可通过其抵押贷款经理兄弟公司First National Financing帮助用户获得贷款。该公司还与SALT Lending达成合作,2月之后,用户就可使用从RealBlock购买的代币作为抵押获取贷款或信用额度。

不仅如此,区块链技术与智能设备结合还可允许房地产投资者追踪投资房产状态,了解设备是否经定期修复与替换等情况,同时允许非美国公民在美购买资产。现今这种交易在美国十分困难。

法律、监管与舆情障碍

房地产区块链要想顺畅运行,就需具备几项条件:政府、房主与投资者需承认并接受区块链注册;小型市政厅需做好使用区块链的准备;法庭需像接受纸质合约般接受智能合约。

许多区块链创企拟发行的可代表房地产资产的代币引发了监管问题。Piscini认为,要使整个房地产金融体系接受区块链交易的唯一方法在于监管方强制规定。

监管方做此规定的理由可能有三:使房地产市场更加开放;对房地产市场加以控制(如限制朝鲜投资在美购房);对房地产市场获有宏观经济实时观,以便及时应对。所有这一切都需要时间。

Futter说道:"区块链就像是1993年的互联网。这项技术还不成熟,对用户并不友好。仍然存在尚未确定的问题,也时有入侵状况发生。在其应用潜能上有些言过其实。但现今其可在有限基础上完成大多数要求。"

区块链抵押贷款

最终,抵押贷款将可能成为区块链上自我执行的职能合约,而非纸质文件。

"能否完全以智能合约的形式进行抵押贷款?可以。"Futter说道,"在双方间形成抵押贷款的技术已经完备。从法律上看,问题在于其是否可被视作需强制执行的合约。这是更是一项需加以证实的问题。"

加利福尼亚等州已开始接受智能合约作为法定证据,所以长期来看这将不是个障碍。

Futter认为智能合约本身并不会包含抵押贷款条约的所有条目。其可能包含利率、贷款数额与时长等条款。但其内在住协定将涵盖一般抵押贷款的所有条款与条件。

区块链还可助力众包抵押贷款。借款人不必从一家放款方申请200万美元的贷款,他可从1000位投资人处分别获得2000美元的贷款。

银行现今应如何行动

Piscini说道,区块链技术将取代银行如今执行的记录与交易活动,因此需要聚焦增值服务。

Futter建议银行至少应让人们了解其发展情况。这种进展可以是创建新纪录的试验、追踪文件或是在区块链上核准交易。

Futter说道:"金融危机表明保存纪录并不是大多银行最大的强项。区块链创造了一项可靠的存储机制,获取情况视个人所用的为公共链还是私人链而定。贷款交易相关所用文件,如财产文件等,均可存储在区块链上。抵押贷款处理程序可自动完成,完成支付与取消赎回权都是自动实现的,这些都可在区块链上进行。"

Futter指出,这些对自动借贷来说都是可行的,对各类型贷款、收债与其他相关服务均可实现。

Real estate deals on a blockchain are becoming real.

The startup Propy recently sold an apartment in the Ukraine through its blockchain, and in the last week of December it began letting Californians buy and sell properties on its blockchain using bitcoin. They will be able to use U.S. dollars next year. It’s also offering other homes including a “Packer House”— a house located next to the Green Bay Packers’ stadium and training field that is draped in team paraphernalia and is available for $1 million.

Other startups, including ShelterZoom and RealBlocks, are offering other takes on the idea of buying and selling real estate on a distributed ledger. ShelterZoom has built an Ethereum-based platform that went live Dec. 14. RealBlocks lets people invest in housing on its blockchain with fiat or digital currency (and starting in February 2018, its own tokens). It has completed seven deals so far.

Distributed-ledger technology — a database that can live in many places at once, where transactions and smart contracts can be executed, theoretically without any need for middlemen — could simplify real estate investment, turning a complicated process into a series of clicks.

At some point in the near future, not only real estate transactions but mortgages themselves may be handled on a blockchain.

Banks will have to adapt.

“I don’t know if this is removing banks from the process — I think it will make them more efficient,” said Eric Piscini, principal, banking and technology consulting at Deloitte. “Maybe they’ll be leaner because they won’t need to have as many people as they used to, to manage those processes.”

What blockchains can do

Theoretically, almost every element of a real estate transaction could be handled on a blockchain.

“When you want to buy a piece of real estate, whether it’s commercial or retail, wherever the current process is very inefficient, which is most places, a blockchain platform can make it better, faster and cheaper,” Piscini said.

House next to Green Bay Packers training facility for sale on blockchain

Tech blitz

The $1 million listing for this "Packer House" — a home next to the Green Bay football team's stadium and training facility — by Propy, a blockchain for real estate finance, brought attention to the disruptive forces faced by banks.

Propy, which is based in Menlo Park, Calif., calls itself the Amazon of real estate. Its site lets users search for properties and brokers the way Realtor.com and Trulia do.

It records deals on its blockchain registry, which it hopes will be adopted by many jurisdictions as an official ledger and as a way to issue title deeds online.

Herein is a big promise of blockchain: that it could replace today’s clunky title deed and registry processes, which involve going to a local town hall and getting a clerk to find the right documents.

Yet it will be a challenge to get thousands of local governments, as well as homeowners and real estate investors, to accept a number on a blockchain as the official deed to a property.

RealBlocks lets people invest in rental properties like Section 8 housing over a blockchain.

“Rather than having to set up LLCs and deal with the tax, legal and accounting complexities associated with purchasing real estate, we’re making the process seamless by doing it on the blockchain using tokens,” said Perrin Quarshie, RealBlocks' CEO.

The company can help users find a mortgage through its mortgage brokerage partner First National Financing. It has also partnered with SALT Lending so that after February, participants will be able to take out a loan or line of credit using the tokens they buy from RealBlocks as collateral.

A blockchain combined with smart devices could let real estate investors track the condition of their investments and know, for instance, that equipment is being repaired and replaced on a schedule.

“Almost in real time, you can know if that piece of real estate you invested in is in good condition or not,” Piscini said. “You don’t have to trust a third party for that; you can trust the blockchain.”

A blockchain can also let people who are nonresidents buy real estate in the U.S., which today is difficult.

And it could let more people participate.

“If someone who is managing a property can also be an investor in the property with that mechanism, then they would manage the property better,” Piscini said. “The renter or leaser might be more incentivized to do a good job maintaining the property if they’re also an investor.”

Legal, regulatory, public-sentiment hurdles

For real estate blockchains to work, several things need to happen: Governments, homeowners and investors would have to recognize and accept a blockchain registry. Small town halls would need to become blockchain-ready. Courts would have to accept smart contracts the way they accept paper-based contracts today.

“Blockchain is a very natural database technology to keep records like titles and to make them widely accessible,” said Dror Futter, partner at Rimon Law and a member of its blockchain practice. “The issue is, you need to have the real estate blockchain recognized as a title registry. You can’t have a situation where you have multiple registries.”

Consumers would have to be willing to accept a smart contract as their only way to engage with real estate participants.

“If something goes wrong, who’s picking up the phone?” Piscini said. “If there is a major event, an earthquake, how do you manage the smart contract? At the end of the day, are we willing to trust this? That’s going to be the biggest challenge.”

The tokens many blockchain startups plan to issue to represent real estate assets raise regulatory questions.

“Will those tokens be considered another risk or another type of equity or will they be considered just an investment in real estate?” Piscini said. “I think the jury is out on that.”

In Piscini’s view, the only way to get the entire real estate finance system to accept transactions on a blockchain would be for regulators to mandate its use.

Regulators might do this for three reasons: to make the real estate market more open; to exert control over the real estate market (for instance, to limit a North Korean investor’s U.S. purchases); and to obtain a macroeconomic, real-time view of the real estate market, so they can react immediately.

All of this will take time.

“Blockchain is the internet circa 1993,” Futter said. “The technology is still immature, it’s not user-friendly, there are still issues being identified, and hacks are occurring. It’s a little overhyped in terms of what it can deliver today. But it can do most of these things on a limited basis today.”

Mortgages on a blockchain

Eventually, it is likely that mortgages will be handled as self-executable smart contracts on a blockchain, rather than as paper documents.

“Could you do a mortgage completely by way of smart contract? Yes,” Futter said. “The technology is there today to form a mortgage between two parties. The question will be, from a legal perspective, will it be deemed an enforceable agreement? That’s more a question of evidence than anything else.”

States like California are starting to accept smart contracts as legal evidence, so long term this will not be an obstacle.

Futter believes smart contracts themselves won’t contain every term of a mortgage agreement. They might contain key terms like interest rate, loan amount and duration. But an underlying master agreement would cover all the terms and conditions typical of a mortgage.

A blockchain could also facilitate crowdsourced mortgages. Instead of taking out a $200,000 loan from one lender, a borrower could get $2,000 each from 1,000 investors.

What banks should do now

Blockchain technology will take over the recording and transaction activities banks do today, Piscini said. Therefore, they need to focus on value-added services.

“Now it’s not just lending money, it’s managing property and helping people do a lot of things outside of just getting money to buy real estate,” Piscini said. “So the banks have to reinvent themselves and find new services and solutions.”

Futter suggests that at a minimum, banks should have people following these developments. They could be experimenting with creating records, tracking documentation and verifying transactions on a blockchain.

“The financial crisis showed this recordkeeping aspect is not the biggest strength of a lot of banks,” Futter said. “The blockchain creates a reliable storage mechanism that’s accessible depending on whether you do a public chain or private chain. You can store all the documentation around the mortgage transaction, including the financing, on a blockchain. You could do the mortgage processing automatically going forward, payments could be made and foreclosure would occur automatically —those kinds of things are all doable on the blockchain.”

This is all true for auto lending as well, he noted. It is also true for other types of loans, debt collection and many other related services.


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