British Columbia

Seller seeks buyer with bitcoin for Victoria property

'I thought hey, this is not really a busy market right now, so why don't we just offer it to people to buy it for cryptocurrency?'

'I thought hey, this is not really a busy market right now,' seller says

'If it’s 100 bitcoin and it drops to 60, he loses and if it goes up to 200 bitcoin he wins, and it’s the excitement that he likes,' says realtor Jason Binab (right), pictured here with property owner Hugo Donais. (CHEK News)

A vacant lot in an upscale Victoria neighbourhood is for sale for $2.5 million — or the equivalent in bitcoin.

Hugo Donais's 20,000 square-foot lot sits on Midland Road in the Uplands subdivision. The listing describes the lot as the perfect spot to build a dream home — on a country lane and walking distance from the golf course and yacht club.

Donais said he's not a gambler, but he told his real estate agent, Jason Binab, he was willing to speculate on the volatile cryptocurrency.

"It's been on the market for about a month and I thought hey, this is not really a busy market right now, so why don't we just offer it to people to buy it for cryptocurrency? Jason said: 'Are you joking?' And I said no, I'm not."

The crypto-currency's trading value has been volatile. Early Thursday morning the asking price for the Uplands home equalled about 145 bitcoin. 

Realtor Binab said an offer might already be in the works for the property. 

"A client that owns quite a lot of bitcoin was alerted to this property by his realtor who saw my post on Facebook yesterday, and he suggested to him let's write an offer, divest yourself of some of your bitcoin and put it in real estate."

Ryan DeLuca, professional standards advisor for the Real Estate Council of British Columbia, said many brokerages won't touch cryptocurrency transactions because of the risks.

Property owner Hugo Donais said he's not a gambler but was willing to try a sale in cryptocurrency because the market is slow. (CHEK News)

For those who are willing to do so, DeLuca said, "they want to advise the sellers of the potential risks associated with bitcoin and then send them out for professional advice."

In an interview Binab said he has discussed with the potential buyer's realtor what he sees as "the scenario that works best for all parties." 

He suggested a $200,000 cash deposit, because the deposit and the realtors' commission can not be paid in cryptocurrency. 

Binab proposes the balance of purchase, in bitcoin, would be calculated on the completion date for the sale. 

Between the date of an offer and the completion date the buyer or seller could win or lose big if the currency soars or tanks. 

Binab said the potential buyer has options in that situation: If the value of bitcoin falls too far before the completion date on a sale, it might be cheaper for the potential buyer to walk away from the deal and forfeit the deposit. 

With files from Deborah Wilson and CHEK News.