British Columbia

House for sale in bitcoin on Craigslist upsets Realtor

Craigslist post on Hong Kong real estate page advertises Coquitlam home for 2,099 bitcoin.

Friend was just trying to help out in a slow market

Newly-built house in Coquitlam, B.C., advertised on Craigslist for bitcoin. (Craigslist)

With thousands of homes for sale in Metro Vancouver one house stands out. 

It's for sale in bitcoin — a digital form of currency created and held electronically. The ad is on Craigslist's Vancouver and Hong Kong real estate pages. 

It says the newly-built house at 707 Firdale St., in Coquitlam, B.C., is in "one of the hottest markets on the planet. Voted #1 place to live in the world."

The asking price is 2,099 bitcoin or about $5 million in Canadian currency. 

Ad a mistake 

Realtor Mario Figliola has the house listed in the traditional way for $2.6 million and wants the online ad removed even though, he says, it was an honest mistake. 

"I was telling someone else how difficult it is now to sell a higher end house because the market has changed. There's more rules and regulations on taxes, like the foreign tax has come into effect," said Figliola. 

"He heard that, I guess, and he said I'm going to get you a buyer, so he posted an ad."

Unfortunately, said Figliola, it wasn't the best thing to do. 

"This person is not a Realtor. He was just trying to help out, I guess," he said. 

Figliola refused to identify the friend. 

Bitcoin sales 

Homeowners not working with a Realtor can accept bitcoin for payment but it would take a lot of due diligence. 

"They have to be aware of the Criminal Code," said Christine Duhaime, a legal expert in counter-terrorist financing and anti-money laundering law. 

"It prohibits them from taking bitcoin from a terrorist organization, a sanctioned country or organization or from taking money they know is associated with the commission of a serious offence anywhere in the world."

A Realtor, however, cannot accept bitcoin for payment, according to Duhaime.

Realtors are reporting entities under the Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act and must positively ascertain the identity of the people involved in a real estate transaction before it can be completed. 

Bitcoin can be received anonymously from anywhere in the world.

Money from China

The Craigslist ad could be an indication that overseas buyers are still interested in the Metro Vancouver market, despite the foreign buyers tax and China's crackdown on cash leaving that country.

Investors are not allowed to take more than $50,000 U.S. out of China.  

Bitcoin or digital transactions bypass controls with the simple click of a computer key. 

According to the Financial Times, 98 per cent of recent bitcoin transactions have originated in China.

The 5,000 square foot house in Coquitlam has been on the bitcoin market since April 2.    


Belle Puri


Belle Puri is a veteran journalist who has won awards for her reporting in a variety of fields. Belle contributes to CBC Vancouver's Impact Team, where she investigates and reports on stories that impact people in their local community.