A reimagined social future or ambitious utopia doomed for failure? The camp may be split, but the metaverse already exists; albeit not the polished dream that Mark Zuckerberg conjured in December 2021 but very real, virtual worlds with new possibilities to be considered.
“Imagine if you came to New York when it was farmland, and you had the option to get a block of SoHo. If someone wants to buy a block of real estate in SoHo today, it’s priceless; it’s not on the market. That same experience is going to happen in the metaverse.”
These are the words of Michael Gord, COO of the Metaverse Group, a leading virtual real estate company that offers buying, selling, letting and consultancy services for virtual properties. Whether you agree with Gord’s premise, virtual property is being snapped up and companies like this exist and are growing with demand and investment.
Look at Decentraland, one of the more popular ‘verses’ backed by the Ethereum blockchain. In this 3D virtual world, users can create, explore, interact and buy and sell property. Decentraland only contains 90,000 parcels of LAND, each roughly 50x50ft. As such, investors are already speculating about the potential value of these parcels, with a record-breaking $2.43m patch of digital LAND sold in November 2021.
Brands are also starting to explore options in this space. Samsung opened a virtual flagship store, Samsung 837X, in January this year. Walmart is rumoured to be entering the metaverse with its own collections of NFTs and potential currency. With virtual HQs and stores already being built, a new market has been created for brokering deals.
Agents and brokers are not yet qualified to support on virtual deals, but will this change? Will we see the rise of ‘meta property consultants’ forming? Will it become a requirement of industry personnel to advise on both real-world and virtual acquisitions?
If this manages to break into the mass market then we will have to pay attention, but by that point will there be any virtual LAND left?
Josh Pattison is head of technology at SHB Real Estate