Are the next big real estate opportunities outer space and the metaverse?
Our motivation to venture out is unstoppable, often an impulse to escape the world we know. And there’s the economic incentives to find and exploit new destinations and our infinite pursuit of unknown dreams.
Never before have new technologies enabled us to pursue such wild adventures, like living in outer space or settling in a virtual community.
It could be a gold mine for the real estate industry, which excels at organizing new property marketplaces and closing complicated transactions. And the industry is brilliant at marketing, packaging and selling property before it’s built.
Property ownership is already central to the metaverse
You can buy and sell virtual property on many of the metaverse platforms. It may seem fantastical but people are doing it.
The crypto real estate agent has already emerged, they understand NFTs, blockchain and the opportunity to sell real estate — virtual and real property — in new and exciting ways.
Not at all.
Settling the western United States in the 19th century was another herculean endeavor that seemed impossible at the time. To make it happen, the U.S. government went all-in, trampling the rights of natives, engineering the biggest land giveaway in history, rewarding railroad entrepreneurs, investing in eye-popping infrastructure projects and capitalizing the adventure by lining the pockets of investors.
An eager and adventurous public was seeking new fortunes or running from economic or personal dread elsewhere. The great migration caught the attention of immigrants, freed slaves, farmers, single women and misfits who risked everything — a story told over and over throughout history and all over the world.
America’s western expansion was a moment in time, somewhat like today, as we run from realities we cannot cope with or seek new places to call home — the great Covid geographic reshuffling.
Similarities: the Wild West and the crypto craze
They both represent a mad rush for opportunity, independent of established institutions with messy consequences. They both embraced a libertarian spirit that set in motion radical change.
Like the crypto opportunity seeker, the pioneer family is not a folk tale — seven million families settled the west. Of those, nearly four million took advantage of the Homestead Act of 1862 an unprecedented land giveaway.
Today, the government has laid the pipes for new adventures in the metaverse by allowing the internet to blossom without regulating it and by not taxing trillions of dollars in economic gains. Though Washington has started making some noise about regulating crypto, so far the sector has grown without government interference.
The benefits are spread unevenly and the dangers from cyber crime are real, but thanks to the internet, we have discovered new ways to live. It has given us a new voice, economic independence, new communities and breakthroughs in medicine, transportation and commerce. It evened the playing field for the media, spawned a new generation of entrepreneurship and gave us new forms of self expression.
Virtual communities are still new
The metaverse, an evolving virtual reality world, was first pioneered by gamers and the companies that make games. Clumsy today, virtual communities are being created with for-sale signs everywhere.
The wagons that first took settlers across the Rockies were clunky, as were the first rocket ships. Consider the early days of personal computers, the cumbersome DOS operating system with two hard drives, one for software and one for data? They worked well enough to change the world.
And every day, the virtual experience is improving. For $400, buy the HTC VIVE Flow Virtual Reality glasses, to get a taste of the future. They changed my thinking about the possibilities.
Superworld is a virtual experience where you can buy digital versions of any place on earth, the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge and a condo in Florida. The average user spends a few thousand dollars on virtual real estate purchases.
One gaming platform that replicates the city of London allows users to buy virtual property as NFTs. People have paid $100,000 and more for a single property, even though the project is not live. It’s like buying a lot in a subdivision, you are betting on the unknown.
Some virtual platforms will fail, but like real property, not every location pans out
Soon, the metaverse will not only mirror the everyday world, but enhance it with more information and new experiences.
Space exploration is enjoying a similar boost as the US government finances private space escapades, paying for missions like SpaceX to deliver payloads to space stations and plant satellites around the universe.
The real estate opportunity with outer space may not be settling planets but developing the multitude of space stations that will be built in the coming decades. At some point, millions of people will occupy these destinations, think Dubai in outer space. The luxury real estate industry will figure this out sooner than later.
The lunar-orbiting Gateway space station will host shuttles that fly in and off the moon. Thriving out posts are being established, like the settlement of sleepy San Francisco, before the Gold Rush in the 1800s. This time, they call it the Moon Rush, as countries ramp up plans to travel to the Moon.
If this does not scream real estate opportunity, you are missing the point here. I know of descendant families who bought vast chunks of seemingly worthless land in Northern California during the Gold Rush. Six generations have never had to work a day in their lives. Think Bitcoin at $25.
Outer space and the metaverse present a real estate quandary
With an infinite supply of property, the virtual world has no constraints on supply. Outer space, theoretically, has the same challenge.
But in the 1800s when the great settling of the west began, only 8 million people lived in the United States, on almost 2 billion acres. That was pretty close to an infinite supply of real estate.
Overcoming challenges to the creation of these two new frontiers requires technology, leadership and peoples’ quest for adventure, freedom and opportunities.
I’m betting on that. And I’m all in.