Think buying and selling homes for bitcoins sounds like a fad? To Shark Tank's Barbara Corcoran, it sounds like the future.
"It makes great common sense," Corcoran said in a recent interview with Money. "I’m being very optimistic because, as a long-term play, it’s perfectly suited for real estate transactions."
Bitcoin's involvement in real estate is uncommon, but not unheard of. Properties have reportedly been sold for cryptocurrency from Texas to Manhattan, and there are currently 140 units for sale or rent on Zillow that mention Bitcoin in their listings. Corcoran, who sold the New York City real estate agency she founded for $66 million in 2001, says Bitcoin home sales will only become more common in the future.
Why? "It’s peer-to-peer, with no central anything, and that’s why it’s so powerful," Corcoran says. Such transactions, she explains, allow buyers greater privacy. "The main idea is to eliminate the middle guy."
In fact, Corcoran predicts Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will eliminate the need for banks.
"I really don’t expect banks to be around 10 years from now unless they change their model," Corcoran says. "I don’t see why it’s going to be needed if Bitcoin does what I believe it’s going to do."
Not everyone believes cryptocurrency will catch on in the long run. Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett called Bitcoin "probably rat poison squared," while Vanguard's Jack Bogle has warned investors to "avoid Bitcoin like the plague." And, while Corcoran is optimistic about cryptocurrency in real estate, she says the concept does face some challenges.
For one thing, in a peer-to-peer crypto-sale there's no insurance or appraisal, she says, which makes people uncomfortable. And then there's the cryptocurrency's notorious volatility.
"I could agree, this week, that that unit is worth $3 million," Corcoran says. "If, by next Thursday, the bottom falls out and [the Bitcoin] is worth $2 million, that $3 million agreement is useless."
And there's one reason Corcoran says she's personally staying away from cryptocurrency.
"I lose my credit cards at least once a week, I lose my cell phone once a month," Corcoran says, "and I can’t even imagine being like that guy in England, what did he lose, $127 million because he lost his private key code?"
Still, Corcoran believes cryptocurrency will survive these bumps in the road -- and anyone who says otherwise is "guarding the old guard."
"That, to me, is the death knell of an old business," Corcoran says. "The big guys that control the marketplaces are always the last guys to see the train coming."