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Vancouver House Listed For Digital Currency: Honest Mistake or Sign of a Growing Gray Market?

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:57 PM
Justin OConnell
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:57 PM

A house is listed for sale in Metro Vancouver for Bitcoin or Ethereum. It also appears on Craigslist’s Hong Kong real estate page. The 5,000 square foot house in Coquitlam, B.C. has been on the bitcoin market since April 2.

The ad features a new home and refers to Vancouver as “one of the hottest markets on the planet. Voted #1 place to live in the world.” The asking price – 2,099 bitcoins – is currently about $5 million in Canadian dollars.

CBC.ca dug to the bottom of the ad, reaching out to Realtor Mario Figliola, who has the house listed in a traditional manner for $2.6 million. He wants the ad removed, calling it an honest mistake made by somebody he knows who apparently has an affinity towards digital currency.

“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.”

Figliola added: “This person is not a Realtor. He was just trying to help out, I guess.” Figliola did not identify his friend.

Accepting bitcoin for a home is legal, so long as you’re the homeowner. But in so doing, the burden of due diligence falls on the home owner selling the home instead of the bank. A realtor cannot accept bitcoin for a home, as they are reporting entities under the Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act and therefore must know the identities of people involved in a real estate transaction.

“They have to be aware of the Criminal Code,” said legal expert Christine Duhaime, who specializes on 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.”

CBC.CA wonders if the listings placement in the Hong Kong Craigslist hints that foreigners are still interested in the Metro Vancouver market even though China has implemented stricter capital controls when it comes to money leaving the country. Investors, for instance, cannot take over $50,000 U.S. from China. Financial Times reports  more than 98 percent of recent bitcoin transactions have originated in China.

Vancouver and Canada’s real estate market has cooled off in recent months. The region implemented a provincial foreign buyer tax and China’s crackdown has apparently dampened interest. Over the last year, home sales have fallen by half. Prices have stalled.

Huffington Post  wonders if the ad is a sign that Chinese buyers are looking to purchase homes in the region on the downlow.

Featured image from Shutterstock.